The Mintz Dynasty – Jamie Bryan
From Fast Company (link):
Like many people, Dan Mintz takes the time to meet his business associates at the airport; unlike most, he does it in a chauffeured Mercedes S600, escorted by a Shanghai police car. The Benz pulls right to the belly of the 747 inching its way to the gate, and the Staten Islander emerges into the brisk evening air–a bundle of affable, regular-guy energy in black pants, a sweater, and sneakers–and bounds up a stairway specially positioned so that he can intercept his colleague, Chris Fenton, before he gets siphoned off down the jetway and into an interminable customs line. As the pair emerges, joking, from the plane, nine Chinese military police officers stand at solemn attention along the path to the waiting car. Fenton sinks gratefully into the backseat while Mintz, the founder and head of Dynamic Marketing Group, one of China’s fastest-rising advertising agencies, dispatches an employee with Fenton’s passport to claim his luggage and handle customs. “We don’t wait on lines here,” Mintz explains with a smile.
It is an impressive red-carpet show by any standard, but as guanxi goes, this particular display has become standard procedure for Mintz. Translated literally, guanxi (pronounced gwan-she) means “relationship building”; in practice, it means carefully cultivated clout, a culturally calibrated measure of respect, influence, and honor. It is a personal as well as political form of capital, and Mintz–who moved here a dozen years ago as a freelance commercial director with no contacts, no advertising experience, and no Mandarin–insists it’s the key to navigating the country’s booming business world and the corridors of government power that feed into it.