Day 3: Meeting the Binjiangers.
As my eyes slowly explore the possibility of opening, I become aware of the sound of car horns beeping. My eyes compromise with a half open state as the morning light pours through our window, and I can just about make out the main road thirteen floors below. I was in China. I guess that still hadn’t really sunk in. I roll out of my bed, stroll past a still very much asleep Kane in his bed and head for a shower. My mind switches to important considerations for the day ahead; where would I be able to get my morning coffee? Will the driver understand me when I ask to stop for coffee? As I start getting ready, I hear Kane stirring and moaning about it being too early.
Today would be the first step towards cementing our partnership with Global Primo. They are a company that help Chinese businesses market themselves to the West, and they have a gap where they don’t offer social media. Enter Giraffe Social Media. This trip would be to define that service, present to potential customers, train the sales team and just generally meet the whole team. I pondered the importance of the trip as I stare out of our window at a buzzing China.
Just as promised, our driver was waiting at the entrance to our hotel at 8:30am. I shake my head with shame as I repeatedly say coffee to the driver in several different tones of English. I really hate not being able to speak Chinese. In the end we just wonder over to the McDonalds across the road while our driver waits outside. As we drive to the Hongjin/Global Primo offices Kane and I start to speculate as to what awaits us. Will it be nice? How big will it be? What will the team be like? We literally have no idea what to expect.
As we pull up, the driver walks us into a relatively discreet looking building, and we enter a lift up to the first floor. We step out into a nice looking reception area, but we have no idea what is waiting around the corner. We get guided into the main floor of the office and our jaws hit the floor. It is amazing. Beautiful wood floors throughout, with Manhattan style glass offices. The first face we see is a beaming Lisa, who has a smile that can light up a whole room. She instantly clocks that we haven’t eaten – and generously offers to have something picked up for us.
Lisa walks us around the office, first we meet Jason the resident copywriter. Jason is from Texas and seems like a really good guy, we learn a little about what he does at the office and then move on. Next up is Adrien and Felipe who head up international sales, it is hard not to be impressed by the amount of different languages these guys can speak between them. I feel even more ashamed about coffee-gate this morning. We briefly get introduced to Jacky who is director of operations and then we head down to Devin’s office. Devin is the design director, not that we need to be told that as we look around his office. The floor is populated by canvas prints and framed photography, and he sits at his desk with music blaring from his Dr.Dre beats headphones and pulls his cap back to itch his blue hair. Devin chats to us about what he does and introduces us to the concept of the Binjiangers. Essentially, all of the ‘Westerners’ ride scooters on their lunch break to escape the office and grab some lunch. They call themselves the Binjiangers and Devin has designed a pretty awesome logo to put the cherry on top of this motorcycle gang. As Devin flashes the logo on the back of his lanyard I feel an instant sense of jealousy and a burning desire to be a Binjianger.
As we turn the corner with Lisa, we suddenly have the vastness of the office thrusted upon us. It is huge. We get to meet the rest of the team and they all seem to be lovely. It was one of the nicest aspects of our trip that everyone at the office was not just friendly, but so welcoming – making us feel instantly part of the team. It was so amazing that despite being so deeply immersed in the all encompassing culture shock that is China, we were made to feel so at home by all of the team.
Come half 11, the Binjiangers invite us out for pizza – an offer we’ll very rarely refuse. We head out to Papa Johns pizza, finally a little Western influence. The lunch is hilarious, everyone’s personality begins to shine through and we enjoy joking about Jason’s crazy, but brilliant ideas for new adverts for the company. “Picture this…”
We spend the rest of the day in a temporary office catching up on some work from the UK side, which is a real wake up call. It is apparently very easy to get caught up in the surreal world of China. Later in the afternoon, Lisa pops into the office and I run through with her what we plan to present the following day to both the sales team and the collection of Chinese businesses interested in the service. Lisa gives us some pointers and I take note so that I can change them this evening in time for tomorrow.
Kane and I leave the office at around 5pm and decide to venture out for some traditional Chinese food. We stumble upon a place right outside our hotel. After 10 minutes of pointing at a menu and a poor Chinese waitress looking at us in utter confusion, we just nod and say yes to everything she is saying and hope for the best. The food is a pretty mixed bag, some of it is delicious, other dishes are not great and worryingly foreign tasting. We pay our bill, head back up to the hotel room and spend the evening preparing our presentation for the following day. Finally at about midnight we decide to hit the hay, kill the lights and fall asleep instantly.