As I read Max Chafkin's article about Elon Musk ["Entrepreneur of the Year," December], I couldn't help drawing comparisons to titans like Henry Ford and Howard Hughes. Musk, like Ford and Hughes, seems to have an insatiable thirst for doing things his way. Like those giants, Musk has a "make it happen" attitude and contempt for common wisdom.
Not only does Musk have the ability to see things that others don't; he brings them to life. I can't help feeling that I'm living history and that our children will someday read about Elon Musk and his accomplishments.
I've been following Elon Musk's SpaceX and watched both of its launches online. I was jumping up and down, cheering, as the first stage separated and the second-stage engine fired up. It makes me proud to live in the United States, where you can follow your dreams even if everyone says you're crazy. Can't wait for the next launch.
As a South African and a professor of African studies, I keep a close watch on portrayals of Africa in the media. At first I thought Leigh Buchanan's piece ["The Believer," December] would be just another profile of a Westerner doing good in Africa.
But the story did well to make a larger point about the racial politics of winemaking in South Africa. Since 1994, South Africa's wine industry has grown to $3 billion, while black ownership of vineyards remains below 2 percent. And the majority of the work force thatis actually producing white-owned wine brands is black.
Brooklyn, New York
A Manufacturer's Nightmare
While reading about the toymaker Kridana's struggles with manufacturers in China ["Manufacturing in the Middle Kingdom," December], I was surprised that the company didn't encounter problems sooner. Managing a supplier relationship from another country is impossible. I'm amazed by how many firms are so willing to fly into China, place their order, and then leave, as if their supplier were a McDonald's (NYSE:MCD).
Outsourcing to China is not just a cost-saving measure. It takes planning, patience, and a constant on-the-ground presence to ensure the integrity of your supply chain.
If there's one lesson that needs to come out of all the recent product recalls from China, it's not that Chinese suppliers are inept. It's that companies need to invest the time and money to secure the integrity of their supply chains, no matter where their suppliers are.
China Strategic Development Partners
PR Goes Deskside
Your article on deskside briefings ["Deskside Story," December] struck me as yet another rant by a journalist seemingly always bothered by PR people. Boo-hoo for you. Go ahead: Do your job for one month without the help of a single PR pro. I dare you.
Deskside briefings certainly have potential to improve a company's relationships with key media targets. But hitting a home run in a deskside briefing isn't easy. Prior to the meeting, it's important to give your client a broad portrait of what could happen, including best- and worst-case scenarios. Clients need to realize that deskside briefings are just one part of the long-term process of building a better rapport with the media.
Senior account executive
Off Madison Avenue
In "You Are on the Air," in our December issue, we misstated the name of Adam Bold's radio show. The correct name is The Mutual Fund Show. In "Power Ranger," in our November issue, we misspelled the last name of Cindy and Jim Tatham.
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