Tencent executive SY Lau took his Cannes Lions talk Sunday as an opportunity to decry development for development’s sake and the failures of MNCs to catch on in China, while also offering his tips for how they can do better.
Lau, senior executive vice president and president of Tencent’s Online Media Group (OMG), pulled up BrandZ’s latest report that featured 14 Chinese brands in the top 100—compared with just the one in 2006. “China is taking her place at the table,” he said. “I’m proud of the potential of China and the role tech has played.”
In his 20 years in China, Lau says, he’s seen a string of MNCs fail even as local enterprises achieve success. He attributes this to their grasp of the human face. “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insanity,” he said. “You can have all the big data, but if your criteria remains the same nothing will change.”
Lau, who will receive the Cannes Lions 2015 Media Person of the Year award, offered three pieces of advice for succeeding in China.
- Think math men not mad men: While approaching the China market, be imaginative. “You don’t have to be an engineer to travel new frontiers of connectivity, but we do have to stretch ourselves with the right passions to amplify the power of imagination,” he said.
- Think of exploration not exploitation: Have the spirit of an entrepreneur. In Lau’s view China is an economic powerhouse, but it’s complexity is understated and returns are magnified.
- Have a global-citizen mindset: Finally, Lau advised companies to have a cooperative mindset, not a competitive one. Resources are not unlimited and we have to find better ways to allocate them. “Our success is not about wiping out competition but about maximising the potential of companies by nurturing the ecosystem,” he said.
Here’s an offstage video interview with La, from the Cannes Lions team: