My New Friend In Shanghai

Last week, as part of the conference about young people in China, I personally met a number of Chinese Millennials. One of my new friends is Lawrence, who is 23 and a graduate student in Design. Along with three other students, three young professionals, and a German (Boomer) designer, we spent the greater part of an afternoon working on our assignment of “designing a new product.” I was the “mature” professional of the group, but these young people never treated me as like “old person.” They were very bright and really made me feel like tech dinosaur.

Lawrence studied engineering as an undergraduate and was the only guy in our group. We had a lot of fun together and he may be contributing to our blog in the future. I was especially intrigued by Lawrence because I have a 23 year old Millennial son myself. Here are a few of Lawrence’s insights:

  • He said he does not relate as a peer to his own parents like he was able to relate to me. Their relationship is always parent/child, never friend. He hopes, however, that he will have more in common with his own kids someday and a “friend” relationship with them.

  • Lawrence is from a smaller city in China but he moved to Shanghai for university. He does not plan to move back and rarely goes back to visit.

  • He was extremely impressed by the one young woman in our group, an automotive designer, who was able to manually draw our design concept. Like many young people, his design skills are technological and implemented entirely on the computer.

  • Lawrence does NOT see young Americans as “competition” in the future. He believes that Chinese young people will ultimately be very successful, but it’s not a competition or a battle. We can all be successful together, but he thinks the Chinese will probably be more successful than Americans.