Near Yellow Mountain

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Living here, working there

When I started writing this blog 18 months ago, I was beginning to think about what I would do next. After more than a decade of a very interesting and challenging work and life in Japan and China, it was hard for me to picture myself back in the US. I was quite sure it would be hard to adapt to the role my employer wanted me to take in the US. That has proven to be true.

 My wife and I were new “empty nesters” as we returned to America - a transition on top of another transition. Living in a house without kids was also a tough adjustment. In time it became somewhat normal but I still miss kids in the house.

The US changed dramatically in eleven years we were gone. In my opinion, most of the change was not for the good. People here still talk about "communist China" but as I returned to the US from "communist China"; I got the feeling that in certain ways,  "land of the free" was becoming more like the "land of Mao". As someone who has always been proud to be American, the change was disconcerting.
Despite the changes, I am happily living in the US. I like the house and city I live in. I love the simplicity of getting around, ease of buying the things we need and not having to worry if a language mistake is going to result in 7 flat screen TVs being delivered to the house. 
Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, I am not happily working in the US. I find my office frustrating - good people working in an environment becoming increasingly dominated by politically correctness and an absence of autonomy. Too many people living lives of quiet desperation. 
On Monday, I make my 15th trip to Asia since returning to the US. From a lifestyle perspective, I have disconnected from living in Asia but from a work perspective, Japan still seems like home. For various reasons, circumstances have dictated frequent business trips to Asia often generating questions from my Asian friends inquiring why I moved back to the US when I spend so much time in Asia. As my company tries to build a "new" corporate organization in Asia, I understand my days of making frequent trips to Asia has a finite life. My employer would prefer that I did not travel so often to Asia but every time a problem comes up, I find myself on a flight over the Pacific. I enjoy escaping the office.
A headhunter called me a couple of weeks ago about a role with a start-up company in an industry related to what I currently do. The main challenge is to build a team in Asia.

As we have only had preliminary discussions, I am not sure what if anything will come of this opportunity but the idea of building another team in Asia is a happy thought.