Ari Daniel Jadwin is Jewish-American, whose Chinese name is Ouyang Modi. He loves to call himself or be called "Ouyang Laowai" which can be easier for both sides. He graduated from Brandeis University, and in 2008, was an exchange student at Tsinghua University. He worked as a management consultant for PwC in Hong Kong. In 2009, he visited Chengdu for the first time. In 2013, finding the high-quality water in Lushan, Sichuan offered Ari a great business opportunity, which led him to begin his career in salmon aquaculture. He now is the general managing director of AquaSelect.
The story of this salmon-raising Jewish-American is known far and wide in China. He developed his aquaculture business in China because of his love for the traditional Jewish smoked salmon that he has eaten since childhood and started to smoke the salmon which he raises. He runs his business with philosophical thinking, exploring the rapid development of China, and unique opportunities of Chengdu and the open-minded nature of Sichuan people.
First comes water, then comes fish
Ari was more interested in philosophy than business in his early age. But after it all, he adopts philosophy to run the business. "Philosophy can be used to solve problems", he says in fluent Chinese. "You find the root causes of a complex issue and then move forward. The most important thing about philosophy is to teach me how to select the useful or useless information." Maybe it also explains why he was hired as the management consultant for a multinational Asian company in his twenties, helping solve diverse problems for various companies and coming up with feasible solutions. The philosophical mind is part of his life and tempers his consciousness.
What influences his mind completely? The answer is China. There have been fundamental changes in China that he wanted to be part of it. In 2013, during his trip in Sichuan, he was excited to encounter the high-quality water perfect for aquaculture. Ari then decided to try something new. At first, his family disagreed with his decision, but his performance has gained him recognition and support by his family over the years.
Moon remains same round abroad and in China
The moon in other countries is rounder is a saying to express the blind worshipping on everything abroad. Therefore it seems salmon from overseas tastes better. Ari told me that seven to nine foreigners from different countries were surprised at the excellent water quality after visiting the fish farm in Sichuan. In fact, the water quality is even better than some of Europe. They were also surprised to find that foreign media tends to exaggerate certain things about China. For Ari, it is normal for foreigners to hold some partial judgment of China. What makes Ari surprised is that "many Chinese friends cannot understand why a foreigner would choose to raise fish in China. I tell them that it's because of high-quality water." "Impossible" was their response to Ari, "You are a foreigner and you don't get it. Chinese people can only make poor-quality and cheap things."
Ari holds a different perspective. He likens New York, Boston and L.A. can be linked to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Chicago, his hometown, is similar to Chengdu because both are inland cities and are not forerunners of development. However, this allows the cities to create more sustainable development concepts while building infrastructures, such as with wide and smooth roads and protected green space. From his point of view, the success of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou might not be replicable in other places across China., because China's development previously depended on cheap labour and exports. However, China has now advanced from being associated with "cheap", and focused on innovation and driving domestic demand. Chengdu is on the forefront. It is a frontier unlike any other EVER the world or china has experienced. It is ancient city growing up in a time when China is a world power and when domestic consumers have far greater wealth. Chengdu's developmental future has nothing to do with "cheap.
The open-mindedness of the Sichuan people
Ari chose Chengdu to open his business not only because of its commercial opportunities but also for the fact that Chengdu hosts the largest number of Jews among cities in western China. For quite a long time, Jews have viewed as money-makers legendary. "A quite good way to analyse which places will enjoy strong forward momentum is to find out where the Jews are moving. Jews come where develops well; there are more Jews in Chengdu than Chongqing." Ari joked with a smile.
"Another reason is that Sichuan people are my favorite of Chinese," Ari speaks highly of Sichuan people. He went further with an example from the catering industry: "many of those who have their own unique local cuisine normally will dismiss the cuisines from other places; such as the people in Paris, Guangdong and Shanghai. Sichuan cuisine is absolutely the pride of Sichuan people, and they have every reason to be dismissive of other cuisines, yet the people here are still willing to try new foods."
Food enables Ari to feel the inclusive nature and open-mind of the Sichuan people and the mellow atmosphere of the city. Chengdu knows that she still has a long way to go compared with larger cities, and while making progress, she is also humbly learning from others. In Chengdu, the future of consumers and business owners alike is filled with opportunity and innovation.