Animal Spirits of Songdo: On the Virtues of Irrational Exuberance
When South Korea’s government decided they wanted to build an international city, one they hoped would become the trade hub of the world, they googled “Number One American Sales Men” to determine who they wanted to partner up with. The first contact listed was a man by the name of John Thompson. GALE, an all American International business, hired Thompson on a limb and they allowed him to work on real estate deals in a one-room office with one secretary and two telephone lines. During that time Thompson made the deal of his lifetime, he bought the space and GALE invested in The Empire State Building. Little did GALE know that so many years later, because of this deal, their company would be contacted by the South Korean government to build the most expensive project ever heard of on Earth; and little did we know, when first learning about GALE, that we would have the pleasure of visiting such a place.
For weeks my partners and I met and talked about this ‘dream city’. Each of us would spend time throughout the week researching a specific aspect of Songdo, and would then meet to discuss and share our findings. I was personally in charge of reporting all “LEED” and ‘green’ articles/ news that involved the construction and personalization of Songdo to the group. My two other colleagues gave details of all financial reports, projects, and the scientific findings. Dr. Robinson, my mentor and professor reported at group meetings all Korean articles that he would translate. Together, we kept each other very well informed about Songdo, and became aware of the value of visiting the city!
This trip and the journeys we overcame while visiting Songdo, South Korea allowed each of us to gain a whole new outlook on global political science, business, and cultural boundaries. This was a truly a once in a lifetime priceless experience and wouldn’t have been possible without CU’s UROP (Undergrad Research Opportunity Program).
We learned so much about business, in particular the kind of business that investors irrationally help fiancé even before seeing any sort of proof that the project will be a success, The Empire State Building for example; referred to in economic terms as ‘animal spirits’. Songdo was just this dream, an idea, a vision that everyone partook in enough to become real.
When we arrived in Songdo we made sure that a meeting with the Vice President of GALE was in place, because we knew what a central key the American company was to the creation of Songdo. We met with a New York gentleman that gave us a very thorough and impressive presentation of this city (his baby) and answered all of our questions during our visit. He even gave us a tour of the spectacular city, and in doing so really installed a sense of confidence in each of us. It made us realize that college kids and businessmen are not so different after all, and that passion was the key ingredient to success.
We can all confidently say that life has never been the same since Korea. This trip and projected allowed each one of us to visualize the world in a whole new light. We gained a new and more accurate perspective of what high profile business meetings and board rooms are like, how to overcome racial, economical, and cultural differences when dealing with job transactions, how to spot financial patterns of both private and federal business, and to quite literally speak a different language, and think in a different way.