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Wo Men Podcast

Author: Wǒ Men Podcast

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Two Women. One Country. Modern China from the Inside.
76 Episodes
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While many companies have felt the impact of Covid-19, some courageous entrepreneurs in China are still willing to take risks and launch new ventures in this time of global economic fluctuations. Our guest today, Lysa Wei, is one of them. In 2020, Lysa started her own company bringing hard seltzer to the China market. Low-calories and sugar-free, hard seltzers have become one of the world’s hottest (or coldest, depending on how you like drinks served) alcoholic beverages in the world. In this episode, Lysa explains the opportunities and the challenges of starting a company in the Covid era. She also shares how to introduce a new alcoholic beverage to Chinese millennials who like to get their buzz differently from their parents or older siblings.
The LGBTQ+ community in China is largely out of sight, and awareness of ideas relating to sexual equality is still very low. Ying, who calls herself Iron, is a feminist, activist, and director of the Beijing LGBT Center. She is one of the most prominent activists promoting LGBT rights in China and has played a vital role in arranging mental health services for the LGBTQ community. For the first time, a national survey has been conducted to look at the lives of the LGBTQ community in China. Ying joins our show today to discuss her personal experience as a member of this community and how she developed her passion into a career. She also shares with us her views on the progress – and remaining challenges – for activists promoting LGBTQ rights in the PRC.
Traveling for Change

Traveling for Change

2021-03-0439:01

Many people have thought about quitting their 9-to-5 job to travel around the world, but few people carry out their plan. One couple made it happen and found a new career inspiration and life direction along the way. Faye and Celyn live in Beijing. Faye worked at a Chinese agricultural company. Celyn (celynbricker.com) was an artist who had always been interested in using art as a lens to look at social issues. They quit their jobs, left Beijing with just two backpacks, and arrived in Africa as the first stop. They planned to travel along the human migration route and record the highlights of their journey as a documentary. They didn’t have a clear agenda in terms of what stories they were going to collect, but it did not take them long before they found that climate change was a term that frequently appeared in conversations with local communities. Climate change interrupted people’s agricultural routines, caused conflicts between different groups of people, and threatened local religions' survival. It even contributed to the rise of the HIV infection rate in certain areas as climate change affected the kinds of economic opportunities that had previously been empowering women. Along the way, they also learned the wisdom to live harmoniously with nature. After returning to China, the couple decided to focus on climate-related art projects and founded Celu Studio to provide a public platform to learn more and take positive action. In this episode, Karoline Kan sits down with Faye and Celyn to learn more about their journey and their new platform for tackling one of the world’s most important and pressing issues.
Davos Dads

Davos Dads

2021-01-2849:31

How do you do it? Where do you find the time? Women in leadership positions are frequently asked how they balance family life and their career. Which makes us wonder: why don’t we ask the same questions of male executives? Is it less of an issue for men, or are they just more reluctant to talk about work-life balance, fearing that it might not conform to the expectations of a strong boss focused on his work and leading his team? Perhaps what is needed is a safe space for male leaders to challenge these stereotypes and talk about their challenges juggling family, marriage, and a successful career. You wouldn’t think that the high-wattage conclave of World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos would provide that kind of cozy safe space, but that’s exactly where a group of “Davos Dads” gathers to share their family struggles and swap parenting tips. In this episode, we talked to David Aikman. David is the Chief Representative Officer of Greater China for WEF. This year, the annual meeting is hosted virtually, but David talks about organizing the “Dads group” at past meetings. David also shares with us his views on leadership and the experiences he has learned from nearly two decades working with some of the world’s top leaders.
Schools all over China have signs and banners exhorting students to hao hao xuexi, tiantian shang shang ("Study hard and make progress every day"). Being a kid -- or a parent! -- in China means a lot of pressure to compete and succeed and the educational system is built around the college entrance exams. Students sacrifice their childhood and freedom for hours and hours of homework and after-school programs to “win the game at the starting point” and secure a promising future. But are exams and homework the purpose of education? Quite a few people in China have been exploring alternative solutions and approaches. In this episode, we talked to Chen Zishu, a Harvard-educated student who brought her ideas and actions back to China. She tells us about her academic and professional journey and shares her observations about China’s education-industrial complex.
It seems like every email we have received recently begins with “In this challenging year…” Well 2020, your time is almost up. You only have a few days left before we turn the page to 2021. Every year at this time, we look back on the year that was and talk about our plans for the future. In this episode, Yajun, Jingjing, and Karoline discuss surviving a global pandemic, their thoughts on a new global order while also talking about their personal highlights (and low-lights) of 2020, including new babies, family health emergencies, lockdown blues, and the challenge of staying motivated while the world seems to be falling apart. Finally, the ladies share their new year resolutions because 2021 has got to be an improvement over 2020, right? Right!?!?!?
Over the past few weeks, the US election has dominated the news worldwide, even in China. Chinese people have been fascinated to watch an odd political soap opera unfold in the United States beginning with the election of Donald Trump back in 2016. Four years later, despite harsh rhetoric and aggressive policies directed at China, Trump still has supporters here. Today we ask the question: Why is Donald Trump still so popular in China? Joining us for this episode is Patricia, a Chinese lawyer who works in a multinational tech company. She Chinese. She is a woman. And she is a Trump supporter. If you’re wondering why, well…so are we. So we invited Patricia on our show to tell us her views about how she came to support Donald Trump and why she is still a fan.
China’s economy is getting back to normal. However, the outbreak of Covid-19 still changed many people’s lives forever. Some of them were fired while others spent months job hunting, and many more used the crisis to re-value the things they used to take for granted. Life almost one year after the first case of coronavirus is permanently different for many people. How has this changed their view of the world and their future? Karoline Kan speaks with Song, a 29-year-old man who used to work at some top international financial consulting firms and never met a challenge in his career. Song quit his job a few years ago to enroll in an international MBA program, hoping that experience would help him further develop his career. He was always confident in his educational background and working experience. Song never imagined an unprecedented public crisis would change his career path and how he feels about so many things in life and career. What to do now? Join a multi-national company or China’s state-owned system? Should he prioritize ambition or stability? In this episode, we look at the fragility of life for China’s middle class. How has the Covid-19 crisis changed people's hopes, fears, ambitions, and worries?
For many people worldwide, the protests in Hong Kong have been a news story in a year full of news. But the demonstrations and political crisis have deeply affected Hong Kongers dividing the city and even families. Michelle is from Hong Kong but living in Japan and has been arguing with her girlfriend – who is from mainland China – about the protests. What happens when different backgrounds, viewpoints, and media consumption starts to come between a couple? In our latest episode, Michelle explains to us why the Hong Kong issue is so complicated. Even in her own family, her parents, brothers, and Michelle all have different takes on the situation. Meanwhile, Michelle and her girlfriend try to communicate their different beliefs with patience, open minds, and open hearts. Michelle also shares the challenges a same-sex couple faces in Hong Kong and on the mainland and how she and her girlfriend have used persistence and wisdom to navigate a range of family obstacles as they build a future together.
2020 has been a challenging year. Many families experienced an incredible sense of loss, sadness, and desperation as they lost family members to Covid-19. Meanwhile, other families welcomed new life who brought love and hope during a difficult time. Our co-host, Jingjing, and our close friend, Annie, each gave birth this year and it was not easy. They suffered from both physical and psychological challenges that a new mother would not face in a typical year, including labor without an epidural due to a shortage of maternity staff in the hospital and risking exposure to the COVID-19 virus. They worried about how to ensure the safety of their new babies during a global pandemic. In this episode, Annie and Jingjing share their personal experience of giving birth in the year of COVID-19.
The Covid-19 Pandemic has affected many people’s lives and had a detrimental impact on businesses around the world. But some industries have inadvertently benefited from the outbreak — such as pornography. Even though porn is legally prohibited in China, such restrictions don’t stop many people from looking for adult content, most of the time by using a VPN to bypass the country’s internet censorship. For this episode, we talked to Annie Huang, who shares why she uses pornography as a healthy entertainment option to help relieve stress. She also explains why women should consider their sexual desires as normal needs, rather than something to be ashamed of.
In a recent podcast episode, we discussed how Covid-19 changed the outlook when it came to China’s consumption boom. As a part of the generation that had taken supercharged economic development for granted and had never worried about financial stability, the potential impact of Covid-19 on the economy also requires us to rethink our finances. In this episode, we have invited Jackie You — a former investment banker who previously joined us to discuss following your heart — to share her insights and experiences with us. Jackie shares how people in China are adapting to a new economic reality, as well as some lessons that can be applied universally.
To many readers of English-language media, “news assistant” is an unfamiliar term. Yet the people operating in this role are often integral to many overseas outlets’ coverage of China. Also sometimes referred to as “news researchers,” they are Chinese citizens working as journalists for foreign media who often do far more than mere research and yet are rarely credited for their work. News assistants’ responsibilities can include research, looking for interviewees, arranging interviews, translating, and some “researchers” even interview and write the stories independently — but with no byline. The Chinese government has rules prohibiting Chinese nationals from being full-time journalists for foreign media publications, but over the past few decades, many Chinese writers and reporters have managed to take advantage of a loosening system or regulatory oversights to grow into experienced journalists and hugely talented — and hugely important — storytellers.
As China continues to recover from the Covid-19 crisis, some experts expected to see a strong consumption rebound in recent weeks. However, it didn’t happen. Instead, the amount of saving in the first quarter of 2020 surged in China. Many Chinese, including the post-’90 and post-’00 generations who are used to living paycheck to paycheck, have started to save money. Seemingly, the global pandemic has changed many families’ and individuals’ consumption habits and lifestyles — at least in the short term. For this episode of the Wǒ Men Podcast, our three co-hosts share their different views on consumption and money-saving and how Covid-19 has changed their outlook when it comes to personal finances.
While the world is suffering from the global pandemic of novel coronavirus Covid-19, Jingjing talks to Donna, a Chinese student studying in the UK. In this episode, Donna shares her perspectives on life under lockdown overseas, including how she ended up getting military food and her experience with racism in the UK.  
When her hometown went into lockdown, Yuli Wang decided to help send messages of hope and support from around the world to Wuhan citizens. Yuli Yang, a journalist born and raised in Wuhan, shared with us her #GoWuhan social media campaign launched right after the Covid-19 outbreak began making international headlines. She and a group of volunteers translated kind and encouraging Twitter and Facebook messages sent from all over the world to the people of Wuhan and published them on the Chinese social media platform Weibo. This campaign aimed to boost the spirits of the people living in the epicenter of the disease and has received more than 3.3 million views on Weibo. She also shared her views on why she feels that Chinese people are much more tolerant and comply with extreme measures employed by the Chinese government compared with other countries. This interview was conducted one week before the podcast was released. Just this past week, many things have changed. The number of infections from the novel coronavirus Covid-19 has significantly increased in Europe and in North America, and many countries have started to employ lockdown measures as well.
As China continues to deal with novel coronavirus Covid-19, it’s clear that this crisis wasn’t only a test of China’s governance and public health system. It was also a challenge to the resilience of many businesses in the country, particularly small and medium enterprises. What are the biggest challenges they are facing and what kind of measures can be taken to keep them in business? For this episode, we talked to Benjamin Devos, the owner and CEO of the first French bakery in Beijing, Comptoirs de France Bakery. He shared with us the perilous challenges his business is now facing and some of the tough decisions he has had to make after 15 years of running a business in China. A small community in Beijing has launched a crowdsourcing campaign to support the Comptoirs de France Bakery and the local business it represents. If you want to contribute, please hit that link for more details.
Life Under Quarantine

Life Under Quarantine

2020-02-2539:04

The novel coronavirus Covid-19 has taken hundreds of lives and caused disruption and psychological damage throughout China and — increasingly — across the world. With millions still under lockdown and self-imposed quarantine within China, and many Chinese unable to return home at an important time of year due to travel restrictions, Wǒ Men hosts Jingjing, Yajun, and Karoline discuss their personal experiences and perspectives of life during the virus.
Last week, before the break out of the coronavirus, much of the world’s attention focused on Davos, a little European ski resort town in Switzerland where this year the World Economic Forum celebrated its 50 year anniversary and welcomed more than 3,000 political, business and other leaders. Jingjing and Yajun, the two co-hosts of Wǒ Men Podcast, met up there and shared their experiences and highlights at the summit from both a participant and organizer’s perspective, respectively.
Podcast hosts Yajun Zhang and Jingjing Zhang come together at the start of 2020 to discuss their hopes, aspirations, and resolutions for the New Year.
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