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Zak  Dychtwald

Zak Dychtwald

China Expert, Millennial Explorer & Cultural Futurist

Biography

Zak Dychtwald is a lifelong fan of interesting people, big ideas, great food, new adventures, science fiction and religious meaning. A writer, consultant, and public speaker, he has traveled extensively throughout five continents to explore what makes people and cultures tick while searching for glimpses into the future. Read More >

After graduating from Columbia University in 2012, he moved to China to explore the country and get to know China’s young people on their own turf.  Over the next four years, through living in tenements, hostels, and high rises, traveling thousands of miles throughout both the Eastern megacities as well as China’s developing interior, interviewing locals from Guangzhou to Chengdu to Shangri-La, Zak realized that the China we talk about in the West is far different than the new futuristic China he saw emerging.

When the world talks about China, the focus is usually on the past: old stereotypes, old politics, old traditions and the older generations. But China’s future is being determined right now by their Millennials. In their lifetime, these young people have witnessed: the Internet open up China to the world, a massive longevity boom coupled with a baby bust creating a 4-2-1 demography, and surging capitalist success directed by their “Communist” government. While their parents were consumed with survival questions around food, housing, and subsistence, young China is asking: Who do we want to be? How do we want to live? What should be the purpose of money? What will China’s role be in the 21st century? He covers this and much more in his critically acclaimed book Young China: How the Restless Generation Will Change Their Country and the World (St. Martin’s Press).

Through his writing, speaking, and consulting, Zak’s overarching goal is to enrich and advance the way the world understands China. He is the founder of Young China Group, a market insights firm based in Beijing dedicated to bringing a people-first understanding of young China to the wider world. At 30 years old, Zak has been invited to share his expertise for audiences on five continents at events such as the Aspen Ideas Festival, the Wall Street Journal CEO Summit, Google Talks, Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, and TEDx. A Columbia graduate, he is a fluent Mandarin speaker and passionate about developing on-the-ground understanding between China and the West. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Speaking Reel

TEDx: 3 Things the West Gets Wrong About Chinese Millennials

China’s Next Chapter | Aspen Institute Ideas Festival

Young China: How the Restless Generation Will Change Their Country

Speech Topics

Young China in a Post-COVID World: Consumer, Competitor, Collaborator

China was the first to be hit by Covid-19 and among the first to recover. Today, while much of the Western world remains mired in a half-on/half-off limbo, offices, restaurants, retail spaces, and even night clubs are filling up in China. Read More >

But not all sectors have rebounded equally, and the young generation’s out-look on consumption, work, and government has been impacted to its core.

In this keynote, Zak explores how young China – the engine of China’s consumer and innovation economies – has reacted to the punch of Covid-19 and how they are shaping up as global consumer, competitor, and collaborator.

THIS SESSION WILL EXPLORE: Read Less ^

  • WHAT IS SEEN AS “WORTH IT” IN A POST-COVID WORLD? HOW HAS YOUNG CHINA’S FINANCIAL OUTLOOK, RETAIL, TRAVEL, AND EDUCATION BEEN IMPACTED BY THE PANDEMIC? WHAT HABITS HAVE CHANGED IN THE SHORT TERM, AND WHAT SHIFTS MIGHT BECOME THE NEW NORMAL?
  • HOW RESILIENT WERE YOUNG CHINESE ENTREPRENEURS IN REACTING TO THE “NEW NORMAL” OF COVID? CASE STUDIES.
  • HOW HAVE ATTITUDES TOWARDS GOVERNMENT – BOTH THEIR OWN AND THE US – CHANGED AMIDST THE POST-COVID FALLOUT? IS NATIONALISM STILL A SOCIAL AND CONSUMER THEME? HOW HAS IT EVOLVED?
  • WHAT LESSONS CAN WE LEARN FROM THE “NEAR FUTURE” OF CHINA’S REOPENING FOR THE GLOBAL CONSUMER?

The Young China Opportunity: Myths & Realities Impacting All Global Business

China is nearly impossible to know from the outside, and most organizations are limited by stereotypes around ‘old China’ and a focus on government. In this keynote, Zak pushes audiences to get past the headlines and really get to know Chinese millennials on the ground level. Outnumbering American millennials by 5x, Young China is redefining every market they touch. Zak’s insight into the people, culture, and systems are a must-understand for global businesses and Investors. Read More >

WHAT AUDIENCES WILL LEARN Read Less ^

  • KEY MYTHS THAT BLIND INVESTORS AND MEDIA TO THE REALITIES OF CHINA’S BIGGEST CONSUMER CLASS.
  • HOW GROWING UP AT “CHINA SPEED” INFLUENCES SPENDING HABITS, ATTITUDE TOWARDS NEW TECHNOLOGY, FAMILY, SOCIETY, AND GOVERNMENT.
  • WHAT CHINESE MILLENNIALS WANT THAT IS DIFFERENT IN THEIR PRODUCTS AND WORKPLACE.

From Imitation to Innovation: How Will Young China Compete with the U.S.?

Can China’s young people be innovative? This is the question defining China’s future. Zak debunks the stereotypes of ‘Copycat China’ and provides a deep dive into China’s emerging innovative firepower. In this keynote, Zak focuses on the social psychology of innovation that could tip the scales in China’s favor in the coming decade. Based on his upcoming Harvard Business Review feature, Zak takes you to the trenches of the country’s tech and investment scene to look at how China is becoming a world-class innovator. Read More >

WHAT AUDIENCES WILL LEARN Read Less ^

  • HOW CHINA TODAY STACKS UP AS A GLOBAL ENGINE OF INNOVATION.
  • FOR CHINA’S MILLENNIALS, HOW A LIFETIME OF RAPID GROWTH LEADS TO A HYPER-ADAPTIVE AND ADOPTIVE INNOVATION ECOSYSTEM.
  • THE CUTTING-EDGE COMPANIES AND IDEAS THAT ARE COMING FROM CHINA TODAY.
  • INNOVATION EDUCATION AND SHIFTING SYSTEMS OF THOUGHT IN CHINA.
  • HOW CHINA’S GENERATION GULFS IMPACT WORLD PERCEPTION.

Are You China Ready? The Five Things You Absolutely Must Know if You Want to Sell to Young China

Among China’s Millennials, there is a tremendous thirst for Western products and services – from laptops to lipstick from snack foods to university degrees. However, this proud, aspirational, product-hungry Millennial market does not necessarily equate “product cool” with Americanization. A new hybrid of east/west, past/future appetites are emerging. In this unique presentation, Zak Dychtwald will outline the five things you absolutely must know if you want to sell your products and/or services to China’s 400 million young consumers.

Young China: How China’s Millennial Mindset Will Change Their Country, the World & Your Industry

We often obsess over American Millennials. What are they loyal to? What are their values? Who will they vote for? Will they even vote? What do they want to buy? And yet, when we think China, we often just think of the “China Market”—no nuance necessary. Read More >

Chinese millennials are already becoming the most powerful consumer class in the world, redefining every industry they touch. China’s 420 million millennials outnumber American millennials by five times. It’s time to understand the world’s consumers of today and tomorrow.

This session will answer, why does China have generation gulfs compared to our generation gaps? How is “Old China” different than “Young China”? How do American millennials stack up against Chinese millennials? What do they want that is different in their products? In the workplace? For themselves, their families, and their countries? How does a generation of single children understand community, family, technology, and leisure?  Read Less ^

The East/West Millennial Mindset

The worldwide millennial generation is the most globally connected, aware, and cosmopolitan in human history. Their unique way of seeing the world is transforming the way all generations think, interact, and consume around the world. In this speech, Dychtwald compares and contrasts the U.S. and Chinese millennial markets and defines opportunities in technology, consumption, and branding that will decide if your company sinks or swims in the 21st century.

A Boomer/Millennial Smackdown: Presented by Zak & Ken Dychtwald

Son and father - Zak and Ken Dychtwald (Age Wave, Boomer expert) - will together present a fun, mind-stretching and actionable analysis of how much money and time Boomers and Millennials have to spend and how they envision family, friends, work, money, success and purpose. They will explore what keeps each cohort up at night, the ideal role of tech in their lives and what they’re looking to do, buy and be at this point in their lives.