Every year I go to our offices in Taiwan and China to celebrate Chinese New Year with my colleagues. The Chinese calendar has a 12-year cycle where each year corresponds to an animal in the Chinese zodiac; 2014 is the year of the Horse.
Horse (馬) is pronounced as “Ma” in Chinese. There is a celebrity “Ma” in each of the countries that Logic has an office. Yo-Yo Ma is a Grammy Award-winning cellist in the U.S. He is a role model for my children who love classical music. Ying-Jeou Ma is the current president of Taiwan. Twice-elected President Ma and President Obama both went to Harvard for graduate school. Jack Ma is the founder of Alibaba Group, the eCommerce giant in China. Alibaba owns the consumer portal business Taobao (similar to eBay and Amazon), a B2B portal business, and AliPay (similar to PayPal). In 2012, two of Alibaba’s portals earned revenues of $170B, more than Amazon and eBay combined. In fact, Alibaba is currently the most valuable part of Yahoo, which holds a 24% ownership. Mr. Ma (Mr. Horse) is a common conversational topic for me in all three countries.
Not only do the Chinese often talk about Ma (horses) in our conversation because of celebrity Ma, but also we really use Ma a lot in our daily conversation. Horse is injected in most conversations because of its multiple implied meanings. Let me offer you a quick lesson in conversational Chinese:
The phrase “on the horse (馬上),” is pronounced Ma Shan and means “right away.” When you ask a waiter to bring you a spoon, he might say “Ma Shan” meaning “I will be on the horse” or “I will do that right away.”
“Horse Horse Tiger Tiger (馬馬虎虎),” pronounced Ma Ma Hu Hu, means “sloppy” or “careless.” We often tell our programmers that they cannot program with “Ma Ma Hu Hu,” meaning they must pay attention to details.
The phrase “success upon horse’s arrival (馬到成功),” pronounced Ma Dao Cheng Gong, means “arrival with success.” We often wish a team to succeed in whatever they are destined to do with “Ma Dao Cheng Gong.”
In this horse year, we are introducing Quantum Compliance, the EHS software company that Logic Solutions acquired two years ago, to the Chinese market. I have decided to use two Chinese characters 匡騰 as the official Chinese name for Quantum. Not only is this pronounced exactly the same as Quantum in Chinese, there is additional significance to the choice.
The first character 匡 means “correction.” The second character 騰 means “horse’s gallop,” and also implies leaping to success. I hope Quantum’s mission to provide software that helps companies monitor activities and issue corrective actions will ensure our customers’ success in EHS compliance.
I’m optimistic. If the Chinese government makes new year resolutions, this year’s is undoubtedly a commitment to fix environmental and safety issues. What is significant is that the Chinese government has tied the performance evaluation of every local government official to environmental concerns!
It’s easy to see why. During my short stay in China, I experienced horrendous air quality, witnessed poor handling of highly toxic chemical waste (sometimes even an utter lack of handling them), and read about two fires that caused hundreds of factory workers to die. All these issues have fueled an urgency to develop and enforce better EHS policy, and improve industrial facilities.
In fact, a local waste management facility invited me to bring my Quantum Compliance (www.usequantum.com) team of Yiwei Chen and Pat Brooks, to pay a visit to see how Quantum’s EHS software might help deal with industrial waste more effectively. Pat Brooks, Quantum’s founder, toured the waste management facility and held in-depth discussions with the management team.
Our conclusion was that only if they “Ma Shan” implement key measures and do not treat the EHS issues with “Ma Ma Hu Hu” attitude, then the EHS policy and solutions that we recommend will “Ma Dao Cheng Gong.”
I wish everyone “Ma Dao Cheng Gong” for whatever you wish to do in this year of the Horse. Happy New Year!