Day One in China: Tiananmen Square and The Heavenly Temple

Because my hospital presentations don’t start until today (Tuesday), I was able to do some sightseeing yesterday.

First stop was Tiananmen Square, where highlight included:

Sentries who stand motionless for several hours at a time:

SentryChairman Mao’s Mausoleum (which wasn’t open on Monday)…

Chairman Mao Mausoleum

…and beautiful flowers (see this tweet for a panoramic view):

Lee by Beautiful Flowers

Then we went across the street, where I posed for a picture with Chairman Mao.


The view from above Mao’s photo was spectacular:

Tian an men Square

After this we went for lunch, where I had the universal beverage:

Universal Beverage

Because the Forbidden City also was closed on Monday, we instead went to The Heavenly Temple. Here are a few more pictures that show the intricacy and elegance of the buildings:

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests
The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests
Imperial Hall of Heaven
Imperial Hall of Heaven
Heavenly Centre Stone
Heavenly Centre Stone

The Heavenly Centre Stone is interesting in that it is surrounded by a ring of nine stones, which is surrounded by a rings of 18, 27, 36, 45, 54, 63, 72 and 81 stones. Then you take nine steps down to the next level, and the pattern continues.

Finally, I ended the day with my first Hot Pot experience, which I tweeted this morning:

Arriving in Beijing

I’m up early (5 a.m.) Monday morning and looking forward to a day of sightseeing in Beijing before our tour of visiting and speaking to Chinese hospitals starts tomorrow.

This is my first trip to China, and it already has led to several other “firsts” in my experience.

While I have previously been met at the airport by someone with a sign with my name on it to make connections with a driver, those signs have always been either handwritten or on an iPad display. This typeset and framed version was definitely a step up (click any photos for larger view):

Charlie and Wenfeng

My greeters, who also will be my guides today and for the rest of the trip, also presented me with an unprecedented arrival gift:

Sign and Flowers

I don’t think anyone has given me flowers before…much less upon arriving at an airport.

After about a one-hour drive to our hotel, which will be our base for the next four nights as well, the three of us had dinner during which I got expert chopsticks advice from Wenfeng.

Then we went out for an evening walk to the Olympic Park. We saw the Aquatics Center where Michael Phelps won his record 8 gold medals:

Acquatic CenterThe exterior changes colors every few seconds, which is beautiful and amazing…until you see the olympic stadium, a.k.a. The Bird’s Nest:

Bird's Nest

The entire end of the stadium is a massive LED display. And while I’m no stranger to having my image on a Jumbotron, this one makes Times Square look like a microtron.

This enabled me to provide the ultimate example of a backlit photo, which Charlie’s smart phone light was powerless to correct:

Ultimate Backlighting

Finally, we took a walk to the base of an observation tower which, when viewed from above, is in the shape of the Olympic rings. Hopefully we can get a view from the top (about 40 stories up) today:

Olympic Observation Tower

Looking forward to exploring with Charlie and Wenfeng today!

A SMUG Tour of China

I’m excited to begin a new adventure today as I make my first trip to China.

I’m accompanying Kent Seltman, co-author of Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic. Kent was formerly the Marketing Division Chair at Mayo Clinic, and he wrote his book with Len Berry as his swan song as he approached retirement. It has been translated into Mandarin and has sold 350,000 copies in China.

China TourKent has previously visited China 13 times, always taking a current Mayo Clinic employee with him. I’m delighted to accompany him on his 14th trip. We’ll be there from now until June 27 and will speak at 9 hospitals in China (click the map to enlarge).

According to the Chinese Firewall Test, I probably won’t be able to access Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or LinkedIn for the next couple of weeks.

On the bright side, SMUG does appear to be available from mainland China.

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 8.25.38 AM

I’ll hope to post updates here relatively frequently. Since my posts are tweeted automatically, SMUG will be my way of at least sending messages via Twitter.

Life-saving Benefits of Uber

Uber_Logobit_Digital_blackIn Why Uber Doesn’t have a Loyalty Program, I wrote last year about my experience with Uber and why it doesn’t need a frequent-rider program as the airlines do.

I cited seven things I appreciate about Uber, and concluded that it doesn’t need a loyalty program because its service IS a loyalty program.

This morning I read an interesting article that described why – despite the consumer-protection arguments made by opponents of Uber and Lyft – these services actually contribute significantly to public safety.

The widespread benefits of ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft make it difficult for policymakers to claim that the industry’s growth needs to be curtailed in order to, for example, lower traffic congestion or protect the profits of taxi moguls. However, if ride-sharing put the public in danger, that could be a legitimate reason to impose further regulations.

But when it comes to ride-sharing’s effect on drunk driving, the technology’s contribution to public safety is clear — it reduces the rates of DUIs and fatal alcohol-related accidents. These are some of the findings of a new paper by economists Angela Dills of Providence College and Sean Mulholland of Stonehill College.

The paper looked at 150 cities and countries from 2010 through 2013 and found that “for each additional year of operation, Uber’s continued presence is associated with a 16.6 percent decline in vehicular fatalities.” This is in addition to the 18 percent decline in fatal nighttime crashes after Uber entered a new market. For DUIs, Uber’s introduction led to a one-time 33 percent decline that was followed by an annual average decline of 51 percent in the following years.

These findings echo those from a January 2015 report issued by Uber and Mothers against Drunk Driving (MADD), which found that ride-sharing saves lives because people use the service as a designated driver instead of trying to drive themselves home after they have had too much to drink. As the report states, in an obvious conclusion, “When people have more options, they make better, safer choices.”

The survey results are also supported by other data. Uber’s entry into Seattle was associated with a 10 percent decrease in drunk-driving arrests. Controlling for outside factors, after UberX launched in cities across California, monthly alcohol-related crashes decreased by 6.5 percent among drivers under 30 (amounting to 59 fewer crashes per month). This decline was not observed in California markets without UberX. When drunk driving decreases, it benefits all motorists, not just ride-sharing passengers.

I just thought Uber was economical, hassle-free, safe and pleasant.

I had no idea it was a life-saver.

Read the whole story to learn why it helps to prevent crime, too.