From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project:

A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again).
*Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Emperor's Teacher (5)—Talking Points-e

[a] Sleeping Dragon RF
I am devoting 2012 to one of the projects closest to my heart/mind (心). It is called The Emperor's Teacher, and deals with lessons that need to be understood by managers all over the world. "Managers?," I hear you ask? But I am a parent, a teacher, an employee, and, at home, a busy cook, bookkeeper, and sometime voter. I'm not a manager.                            Yes, you are. 
We are all managers, and we would do well to learn abiding lessons of how to make managing work. Some people in our midst (and in human history) have spent inordinate amounts of time trying to figure out how we might manage ourselves (since if you can't get your self right, you'll have a hard time with anything bigger...right?), our families (since a family is a whole bunch of interrelated selves in social communion), and the whole enchilada...all under heaven (天下). The latter term was used traditionally in China to refer to running the empire, but it had both moral and governmental innuendo that we would do well to consider in our own lives today. All three ideas (oneself, one's family, and all under heaven) are versatile enough to be read in secular or sacred terms, and, indeed, early Chinese cosmology had a plethora of ways of interpreting such matters. Interpret away. The concepts are big enough for all of us, as even Dong Zhongshu might have agreed.
[b] Window RF

My book, The Emperor's Teacher, introduces the greatest management book of all time (Sima Guang's Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Ruling), and then explains its key teachings to readers in the twenty-first century. This is challenging stuff for readers today (in East Asia and the West, I might add), just as it was ten centuries ago. No book is deeper or richer with lessons you need to learn to manage your career, your family, your football team... 
...or the corporation you lead. We all need it. My book takes you through the lessons found in a thousand year-old text. The "Talking Points" that follow in the next few posts will give a sense of the book as a whole. Close readers of Round and Square will know that I have already posted all of chapters one and two, and the first parts of chapters three on this blog (look for them below). I will post the entire "blog draft" on Round and Square in 2012. 
Front Matter:
Talking Points-a          Talking Points-b          Talking Points-c          Talking Points-d          Talking Points-e  
Table of Contents-a                                        Table of Contents-b                                        Table of Contents-c

The Emperor’s Teacher
Life Lessons from Chinese History
“Talking Points"—E   Breaking the Mold 
Not Just Any Project 

[c] Thatta way RF
A thousand different authors can write a book on the Art of War. Only a small handful can write a book on the greatest management work in Chinese history. Twenty years ago, as a college graduate with fluency in Chinese, I had a discussion with a Minneapolis banker.  He had become frustrated while working with several businesses intent on moving their operations into China.  At one point, he said that it would be much easier to teach me “the business” than to take his most talented banker and have her begin learning Chinese.  He was speaking of foundations, and that message goes to the heart of this book. The normal publishing expectations do not apply to a book like The Emperor’s Teacher, which breaks new ground in business publishing.

Translations abound for shorter books, and have spawned hundreds of works based on those translations. The Emperor’s Teacher and the Comprehensive Mirror provide a great opportunity to break the mold that has set in for China-focused business books, and it demands thinking beyond the box of the “pithy” texts that have dominated American management publishing. 
The resistance to this kind of process is fascinating in its own right. One agent's letter concluded "So you're writing a book about a Chinese author no one has heard of...and no one's heard of you, either. Good luck with that!"

In the ordinary publishing world, he might be right. The Comprehensive Mirror is not ordinary book, though. There is no possibility that a book on this greatest of Chinese management texts will begin with a wide platform or celebrity; the pursuit of this topic, however, will take care of that on its own. To paraphrase the Minneapolis banker, it is easier to have the obscure professor of Chinese history write this book than to teach someone even as gifted as, say, Ken Blanchard (The One Minute Manager)….Chinese history and culture. Ordinary dynamics don't apply.

Front Matter:
Talking Points-a          Talking Points-b          Talking Points-c          Talking Points-d          Talking Points-e  
Table of Contents-a                                        Table of Contents-b                                        Table of Contents-c

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