As part of my political exploration and participation in the Microsoft “Voices for Innovation” (VFI) political trade association and its closely related PAC, I’m invited to the best free lunches on the block. Seriously – VFI works with the PAC to bring in super speakers to Microsoft Redmond. This is my third such lunch event and the featured speaker this time was Sidney Rittenberg.
Sidney Rittenberg, 91-years young, featured here (http://www.theatlantic.com/james-fallows/) in a passage in the Atlantic, grew up in Charleston, SC, and went to Chapel Hill. He went to Stanford and learned Chinese and Japanese. He focused on Chinese and served the military in China in WWII. After the war, he stayed and worked for the Chinese government for many years, until 1980. He spent 16 years in solitary confinement in Chinese prisons when he found himself on the wrong side of the “Gang of Four.” He shared this somewhat sad story with a sense of humor that was infectious.
Upon return to the U.S. in 1980, Rittenberg has consistently been in demand from U.S. corporations seeking to do more business in China, such as Microsoft itself. Still an active consultant and trainer, he and his wife travel to China once or twice per year.
After sharing his background, Rittenberg then shared his philosophy that he is concerned that we’re in a crisis where humankind can actually destroy itself. The crisis he discussed was: “Can we face the facts about what’s going on, and adjust to it?”
Wanna learn more about Rittenberg? His book, “The Man Who Stayed Behind,” can be found here: http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Man_Who_Stayed_Behind.html?id=_vTLJpWj-0wC
Wanna learn more about Microsoft VFI? Read on here: