China's New Cultural Revolution
Thank you very much for turning the spotlight on China's emerging creative class ("The Next Cultural Revolution," June). Actually, though, China has been creative for thousands of years—as long as its history. China's Great Wall, for example, is not only the world's longest fortress but also one of the world's oldest architectural wonders. Compasses, gunpowder, papermaking, and printing are also among the greatest Chinese inventions, according to the British science historian Joseph Needham.
What a great piece! I had the opportunity to visit Shanghai and Beijing last year. Saw plenty of the new and creative, as well as the old and traditional in my too-brief tour. One could feel the energy there on every street corner and behind every set of eyes. This article captures it so well! Also, I absolutely agree with the last quote: "Everyone, it seems, is ready for a renaissance of creativity." Why not China? Good work, Mr. Chen.
Nevada City, California
I want to thank you for my 12-year-old son's newfound interest in global business. After seeing your June cover, he has asked me several times to read the article entitled "The Next Cultural Revolution." It appears he enjoys your magazine for the good articles.
Please consider your audience. I found the June cover to be highly inappropriate for a business magazine of this caliber. There is a dramatic difference between creative and trashy, and if I were part of China's creative class, I would certainly feel degraded by this portrayal. On page 72, you have a picture of a very creative and modern building that could have easily made a great cover. Then again, my son wouldn't have such an interest in your magazine.
Mark E. Vander Kooy
I am a big fan of your magazine, and I share it constantly with my staff colleagues. But as a Chinese-American, I take offense at the cover of your June issue. Your cover looks like something that belongs on the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated, or the cover of some men's magazine. Ziyi Zhang is a great actress, but putting her on your cover takes away from your feature story.
The virtue I admire most about Fast Company is its emphasis on social capitalism. To unreservedly exalt a regime that seeks to exploit the financial benefits of capitalism while actively repressing basic human rights erodes the higher moral ground you've done so well to build as a business magazine. To get a more balanced perspective on China and its serious issues dealing with personal freedoms and massive income disparity, a good starting place is the Amnesty International Web site.
I just wanted to say nice job on "Brave New Mouse" (June). I know it's tough for behemoth companies to finally accept change, but I feel Disney has started to embrace digital media and really get a core belief system based around it as the future.
Being from a video-game background, we've always been the ones who were labeled as the bleeding-edge change in entertainment. But I truly believe that—while, yes, games do have their place— digital distribution and some relatively modest changes in formats of noninteractive entertainment is where the brass ring lies.
Los Angeles, California
I just finished reading the article on Albert Cheng and the Disney-ABC Television Group. I thought it was a very well-written and candid piece on an exec of a traditionally noncandid company when it comes to interviews. It shows that even the Mouse House recognizes that times are changing.
Los Angeles, California
Nau Is the Time
I wanted to drop a quick message to let you know how refreshing and exciting it was to see the article about Nau ("Leap of Faith," June). What drives these triple-bottom-line businesses, as well as how they come about and what their strategies for growth are, is truly fascinating. The article was inspirational, educational, and a kick in the butt for all of us out there who want to do good and do well.
Thanks for your timely update on the challenging demands of chief marketing officers ("The Most Dangerous Job in Business," June). Taking issue with a guy who survived four years as a CMO may be risky ("clearly there is no better tonic than top-line sales"), but Burger King's Russell Klein misses an important higher-level goal of CMOs: "Maximum earnings is even better," and sometimes that requires a huge reduction in sales.
Victor J. Cook Jr.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Russell Klein is one of the very few major-brand CMOs who will publicly admit the importance of, and work to strengthen, top-line sales. Most CMOs do not equate top-line sales with brand health. In dealing with CMOs on a daily basis, I find it is not uncommon to hear them say they have no idea about sales figures or that a marketing idea designed to drive sales "does not fit our brand strategy." They continue to live in a world of their own, divorced from the rest of the business enterprise. Klein keeps his job because he is not in his own world. More CMOs should take his lead.
White Plains, New York
Marketing has always been a less-secure business career than most; this is nothing new. What is happening now is that increased emphasis on accountability, measurability, and performance is weeding out many who were adept at getting to the position, but not so skilled at innovation, leadership, or getting results. My hope is that this trend opens doors for a new breed of results-oriented marketers.
New York, New York
Laura Crawford may know how the Republican National Committee operates (Fast Talk, June), but she sure doesn't know the first thing about gun safety. Feet up, leaning back, rollback chair, indoors, and finger on trigger. Really?
John A. Brennan
Fantastic content! We drooled over your Next Sketch Pad segment in the June issue. I've been a devoted Fast Company reader since day one, when I studied product design at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. To see your spread on Frog Design's contribution to the TurboChef oven was a brilliant visual tribute to the inner circle of groundbreaking design taking place today.
Palo Alto, California
Alpha 'fraidy cats rule most marketing and PR organizations—confident, smart, persuasive, but actually insecure (Made to Stick, June). As the Heath brothers say, they "systematically snuff out anything that's distinctive enough to spark conversation." What's scarier? Wacky new ideas that connect with customers or being bland? The latter.
Cumberland, Rhode Island
Both Sides Now
How ironic is it that Bruce Barry is questioning free speech in the workplace while he works in one of the most speech-restrictive industries in the world, the American university (Open Debate, June)? Try making a pro-business, conservative statement on the majority of college campuses in this country to see his free-speech ideals in practice.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
In the July/August issue, the photography credits for "Water" were incomplete. The photo stylist was Olivia Sammons.
In "Can CEOs Cure Cancer?" also in the July/August issue, we misidentified SAS software developer Keith Holdaway.
In July/August's "Fast Cities," the performing arts center in Miami by César Pelli opened in October 2006.
We regret the errors.
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A version of this article appeared in the September 2007 issue of Fast Company magazine.