Saturday, May 11, 2013

Broken Fact: Lane Sharman's Business Practice

The Original Story:
While enjoying a nice, and perhaps romantic, relationship with her boss Lane Sharman, Fu Ping nonetheless despised the latter's business practice of frequent and outrageous over-billing of their clients. On Pages 64-65 of Drifting Bottle, she detailed her dilemma and hurt in the face of the questionable ethics:
On my first service job, I behaved like an honest fool. That night, a secretary at a law firm called, crying for help. None of their computers was working. She was preparing briefs for the next day. I took off with my toolbox and found out it was an issue of power supply. Once replaced, computers were working again. 
I reported to Lan the next day. Unexpectedly, he got very angry. He did not say a word but walked away. I only learned from other coworkers that I was not supposed to have told the truth to the secretary. The smart consultant would pretend to examine everything, send the secretary home, and then fix the machines by morning. Then we would be able to issue a bill of $1,000 to the firm. The way I fixed it, we would only get $100. 
This kind of job was terrible to me. But I had to do what the boss told us to do for survival. If the company could not make money, it would also be our misfortune. 
More and more, Lan becomes happy with my work. But whenever he was the happiest, I was in the most pain. Those clients who paid high fees were mostly kind, trustful, or ignorant. I could not feel the happiness of success dealing with them, but only guilty and shame. Lan told me that I did not know how to separate work from feelings, which meant that I did not know how to enjoy life. Maybe he was right. 
The Debunking:
On April 4, 2013, Lane Sharman himself entered a comment on the NYT blog site:
This is Lane Sharman. 
I have to confess that I am very saddened to be accused of promoting dishonesty.
I have a long record of developing trusted relationships with people across all types of business. I practice the golden rule. 
I can defend myself on the basis of a long record of fair dealings with all people, from all walks of life and from all ethnicities. 
Thank you,
To which Fu Ping responded on April 10:
Lane, I am sorry your integrity is questioned by people who don't know you or me. Let me state publicly here. Lane is one of my heros and I love him dearly. My success today was significantly influenced by learning from him and by his compassion and support of me when I was a struggling new immigrant and a student.  
Taking content out of context from a Chinese book with censorship in China, disregard what I wrote in Bend, Not Break, to attack Lane's integrity is wrong.
I wrote the Chinese book, which is a collection of essays, using material of first 10 years of my life and observations in America in early 90s. The book was heavily controlled and edited by a Chinese state owned publication house and I was limited to what I can write. Anything not allowed in China then was deleted or altered.  
In Bend, Not Break, I openly admitted my ignorance and poked fun of myself for what I wrote in the Chinese book: (p131-132) 
If there is anything in the Chinese book that can be read as questioning Lane's integrity or honesty, that is entirely my fault. I was clueless about business and entrepreneurship at that time and I carried imprint by years of brain washing during CR. It only illustrates my ignorance.  
Lane is one of the most outstanding people who I had the fortune to work for long time ago, I learned a lot from him. His integrity and kindness are self-evident through what I wrote in Bend, Not Break and from people who know him.  
It's rather puzzling how Chinese censorship would have played a role in the paragraphs Fu Ping wrote in that book. Was Fu Ping claiming that the Chinese government made her do it?!

1 comment:

  1. 蓝说我不懂得如何分离工作与感情,
    Your translation:
    Lan told me that I did not know how to separate work from feelings,
    which meant that I did not know how to enjoy life.
    Maybe he was right.

    Question: Why didn't you translate the last four Chinese characters (我太多情, meaning I am too romantic)?