The End of Copycat China is the name of Shaun Rein’s new book that will be available come October 20. I am flattered that Shaun has included me on the mailing list he uses to blast information to his friends and colleagues, and I wanted to draw attention to how he wants his fans to do the marketing for his new book for him. Over the last three months Shaun has sent out two lengthy email blasts and I find their content to be intriguing, and to confirm some of my own thoughts about Mr. Rein.
Perhaps most revealing was this paragraph:
If you or a friend are looking for a keynote speaker, consider me. If organizations buy 1000 copies of my book to give to attendees between October and December, I will waive my standard speaking rates at my speaker’s bureau (my current rates run from $35,000-$55,000 USD for a speech plus expenses in North America). Buying my book in bulk is a huge savings and a great gift idea for clients. I personally am forfeiting a lot of money in order to get word about the book out there.
Okay. Let’s take a step back for a moment. First of all, normal people wouldn’t say “I will waive my standard speaking rates at my speaker’s bureau (my current rates run from $35,000-$55,000 USD…).” Normal people would simply say, “I will waive my standard speaking rates.” Period, full stop. How gauche can you get, boasting to everyone that you charge $35,000 to $55,000 for a speech? This is your typical Shaun Rein insecurity, where he needs to impress. Poor Shaun, “forfeiting a lot of money” to promote his book.
But let’s look even more closely. Does anyone seriously believe that Shaun is paid $55,000 for giving a speech? That’s as much as Al Gore makes. I’m not calling Shaun a liar, of course, but something here doesn’t fit. $55,000 for a single speech by Shaun Rein? Is that possible? Do any of my readers who speak publicly make $55,000 per speech? I can’t help but feel skeptical.
Both email blasts include pleas for his friends and fans to go onto social media and to write blog posts to hype the book.
Please help share news about the release on email lists, social media, and other ways to help get word about the book out. A “like” on Facebook or LinkedIn or a retweet is hugely helpful… Getting word out via social media and word of mouth is hugely helpful and appreciated. Book reviewers are more likely to review books if they see a swell of support in social media so please take the time to post a link.
So why do I find this so interesting? It’s because Shaun follows only one person on Twitter, and, to the best of my knowledge, doesn’t even have a personal Facebook account. In other words, Shaun doesn’t want to hear what you have to say on Twitter. He doesn’t want to interact with you on Facebook. He doesn’t want you to share with him. He only wants to use Twitter to make pronouncements, stepping out of his ivory tower to preach to his choir. He never retweets but wants you to retweet posts about him. Shaun wants nothing to do with social media, but wants you to use it to his benefit. Is it not ironic that Shaun doesn’t want to hear what any of you have to say, and yet he is pleading with you to promote his book on social media?
It’s okay to ask people to help promote your book on social media. But this is “social networking” — social, as in sharing and interacting. It is not a one-way street, where you only use social media to promote yourself without the slightest regard for what others have to say. Shaun is simply not interested in anyone’s voice but his own.
And then there is his book description on Amazon (these are written by the author). Along with his usual self-aggrandizement, there is this:
Drawing from over 50,000 interviews with entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, private equity investors, private Chinese companies, and multinationals, this book describes how Chinese firms are increasingly focused on innovation rather than copying what worked in America and how consumers are evolving with their hopes, dreams and aspirations.
Alright. This dramatic claim cries out for a closer look. Try to imagine this: Shaun’s firm is comprised, I have been told, of five or so employees. And yet Shaun is saying his book draws on “over 50,000 interviews.” That would mean each employee of his company would have to have conducted 10,000 interviews. Let’s say he has ten employees now; each would have had to conduct 5,000 interviews. And how did they track down over 50,000 “entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, private equity investors, private Chinese companies, and multinationals”? Are there really 50,000 of these people in China who have made themselves available for interviews? Wouldn’t poring over 50,000 interviews and extrapolating data from them take years and years? 50,000! As a former journalist and PR guy, I know that scheduling just a handful of interviews takes a lot of time and effort. 50,000? Fifty-thousand? Impossible. Incredible. Inconceivable. Unprecedented.
One other line that popped out at me in his most recent mailing was this:
If you do not read the book, please consider posting a short review on Amazon. My publisher tells me that reviews on Amazon are hugely important.
I doubt this was intentional. It was most likely one of Shaun’s famous typagraphical erorrs or a Freudian slip. In any case, it’s pretty amusing. It brought to mind how, when my commenter Lisa criticized Shaun in a comment he immediately blocked her on Twitter and then went onto Goodreads and gave her wonderful book, Rock Paper Tiger, one out of five stars to pull down her Goodreads rating (he never read the book). At times Shaun shows the maturity of a five-year-old. He wants you to give his book five stars on Amazon, after maliciously abusing the star system and giving one star to the book of someone who dared challenge him.
I admit it, Shaun Rein bugs me. It bugs me that this smug, self-promoting man boasts of marrying into a rich, connected family and of going fishing with high-ranking CCP officials, constantly trying to market himself as the consummate, best-connected China expert. His famous sucking up to the Party is embarrassing; he sees only good, and when they do something really bad he intentionally looks the other way. (Read that post if you have doubts.) I have tried to be fair. I have said more than once that I admire Shaun when he sticks to stories on marketing in China. But his self-appointed role as the Chinese marketing wunderkind and perennial apologist for the Chinese Communist Party puts a red target on his back and makes him fair game for scrutiny and criticism.
Over the years I’ve pointed out many examples of Shaun’s shameless sucking up to the Party (if you are new to this site, you can find all the past posts here). Shaun has referred to me on Twitter as a “hater” and worse, and even called me out in his last book with a nasty swipe. But all I’ve done is take Shaun’s words and thrown them back at him. The truth is inescapable: Shaun is a cheerleader for the Party, a chronic falsifier of fact (50,000 interviews?), a deceiver of his readers and, I suspect, of himself. He can
pimppromote his book any way he wants, but he needs to know that people are watching and will not accept his pronouncements verbatim, as he would like.