Crucial Point

It is a popular Western view to say Crisis in Chinese is a simple combination of danger and opportunity.  But that is not exactly correct.  It’s a little more complicated.



Chinese philologist Victor H. Mair of the University of Pennsylvania calls the popular interpretation of wēijī in the English-speaking world a “widespread public misperception.” Mair suggests that  in wēijī is closer to “crucial point” than to “opportunity.”

Nevertheless, They can relate to either interpretation.

They struggled much of their young lives, very close to danger and no opportunity before the crucial pointwhen the opportunity was encountered and made, by hard work and being very smart TOGETHER.

The Danger has passed.  Now, China is the land of Opportunity for those who have the right combination and the right timing  — and…

They do.

China’s SOHO Limited is worth about 10 billion dollars.

He is Chairman of the Board, and she is the CEO.   Husband and Wife.


They both were born poor: in Mao’s China and far away from each other.  However, what they had in common was their parents were educated.  And to be educated in Mao’s China was very dangerous. It is estimated that in Mao’s China about 70 million (give or take 10 million or so) died as the results of his policies. For those educated it was a particularly difficult time.

Only the educated are free.
— Epictetus

She would travel half the world away to be educated in the globalizing developed world, he would stay in China as it would be transformed from Mao’s China, to Deng’s China, to Jiang’s China.

Pan Shiyi fell in love with Zhang Xin at first sight and believed that she was the one he wanted to marry. He proposed to her 4 days after they first knew of each other. 3 days later Zhang Xin said yes.

“We talked about the marriage for 3 to 4 days, and made the decision on the 7th day”.


Zhang Xin, Inventor Rational, (simplified Chinese: 张欣; traditional Chinese: 張欣; pinyin: Zhāng Xīn, born 1965) is a Chinese businesswoman. Presently, she is the CEO of SOHO China, the largest commercial real estate developer in Beijing, and as of September 2012, the chairwoman of Teach For China Board of Directors. [Wikipedia, revised]

Zhang sees herself much like the Inventor Rational, Steve Jobs.  She likes making innovative buildings.

Born in Beijing in 1965, Zhang Xin moved to Hong Kong at the age of 14 with her mother and lived in a room just big enough for two bunk beds. Her mother was a translator.  To save for an education abroad, Xin worked for five years in small factories that make garment and electronic products. As she has described, the ‘conditions there were similar to those in mainland China today’.

By 19, she had saved enough for airfare to London and supporting herself for English study at secretarial school. Later, she studied Economics at the University of Sussex. In 1992, she graduated with a Master’s Degree in Development Economics from Cambridge University. [Wikipedia, revised]

She worked for Barings to work in Hong Kong. She soon moved to Goldman Sachs and started working for the investment bank in New York City. In 1994, she switched to Travelers Group.  However, she felt something was missing, making money wasn’t her goal.

With their innovative, entrepreneurial spirit, Inventors are always on the lookout for a better way, always eyeing new projects, new enterprises, new processes. Always aiming to “build a better mousetrap.” Inventors are keenly pragmatic, and often become expert at devising the most effective means to accomplish their ends. They are the most reluctant of all the types to do things in a particular manner just because that’s the way they have been done. As a result, they often bring fresh, new approaches to their work and play. They are intensely curious and continuously probe for possibilities, especially when trying to solve complex problems. Inventors are filled with ideas, but value ideas only when they make possible actions and objects. Thus they see product design not as an end in itself, but as a means to an end, as a way of devising the prototype that works and that can be brought to market. Inventors are confident in their pragmatism, counting on their ability to find effective ways and means when they need them, rather than making a detailed blueprint in advance. A rough idea is all they need to feel ready to proceed into action.  [Please Understand Me II]

Pan Shiyi is very much a man of action. Pan sees himself in the mold of the genus, Promoter Artisan, Richard Branson.


Pan Shiyi, Promoter Artisan, was born in an impoverished rural village in Tianshui in Gansu Province in western China in 1963. His father was a teacher, and he has described his father as “the one who has influenced me the most” and “taught me how to live and survive in the worst environment”. He graduated from the Hebei Technical College of Petroleum Profession in 1982, later working at the former Ministry of Petroleum, until he decided in 1987 to venture to Shenzhen and Hainan to embark upon a career in real estate.

Pan Shiyi is known as a vanguard in China for spearheading a new generation of private entrepreneurship, exhibiting strong business savvy and seizing the opportunities made possible by Chinese economic reform and opening.The projects he has undertaken as Chairman of SOHO China have achieved tremendous commercial success, largely thanks to his flair for marketing and foresight in anticipating the needs of Chinese investors and small and medium-sized enterprises. He openly approaches life and work with optimism, levity, and candor, making him a public role model and a celebrity personality. [Wikipedia, revised]

He was smart enough and brash enough to convince Xin, to marry him in within a week of meeting her, when she was visiting China for Travelers Group looking for investments.  A crucial point, a crucial time.

There are lots of Promoters — maybe ten or so percent of the population, and life is never dull around them. In a word, they are men and women of action. When a Promoter is present, things begin to happen: the lights come on, the music plays, the games begin. Clever and full of fun, Promoters live with a theatrical flourish which makes even the most routine events seem exciting. Not that they waste much time on routine events. In work and in play, Promoters demand new activities and new challenges. Bold and daring at heart, and ever-optimistic that things will go their way, Promoters will take tremendous risks to get what they want, and seem exhilarated by walking close to the edge of disaster. Because of this, they make the very best trouble-spot administrators and negotiators, and they can be outstanding entrepreneurs, able to swing deals and kick-start enterprises in a way no other type can. [Please Understand Me II]

China was opening up.  Opportunity was there for smart entrepreneurs. 

AND, it was more complicated than that.


It wasn’t easy, they conflicted in their business approach.  She at a time thought of divorce.  She moved back to London for a time, before she would give it another try.  She came back to China. They made it work.


She develops innovative buildings and he promotes and sells them:  a very productive and synergistic dyad.

4 thoughts on “Crucial Point

  1. goodrumo March 20, 2013 / 3:19 pm

    I now have a burning desire to see Zhang Xin’s buildings, the designs, the results. Fascinating.


  2. auguries8 March 21, 2013 / 11:02 pm

    Reblogged this on auguries14 and commented:
    ‘Crucial Point’-Keirsey Temperament Blog


  3. wooster87 March 22, 2013 / 3:23 am

    Reblogged this on woosterlang87 and commented:
    Crucial Point-‘It is a popular Western view to say Crisis in Chinese is a simple combination of danger and opportunity. But that is not exactly correct. It’s a little more complicated.’ Keirsey Temperament Blog


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