"Barefoot" Banker Strikes Gold

Weijian Shan, a managing partner of U.S. private-equity fund Newbridge Capital, learned some unexpected lessons about business in China's Gobi Desert. During the Cultural Revolution, Shan, a Beijing native, was banished there for six years. By day, he sweated under the blistering sun, tilling the soil and herding cattle—or healing villagers as one of Mao's famous "barefoot doctors." At night, he listened to Voice of America on a small radio, studied an English dictionary and hoped for something better. "When you have a job in the Gobi with absolutely no hope and no future, you learn to be patient," Shan...

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