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Zhang Xin
Zhang Xin
Co-founder and CEO, SOHO China

The worst advice I ever got was, "Don't work with your husband [Pan Shiyi]. Marriage and business don't mix." You can't imagine how many people told me this. But it's such a narrow view of relationships. In our case I think our [real estate] business success springs from our friendship.

When you have two people trying to figure out problems together, one brings out new things in the other and vice versa. Aren't human beings meant to be inspired in this way? With us, Pan works in a very intuitive way_ even though he's the man. I believe in women's intuition, but I am also a product of my Western training [Cambridge, Goldman Sachs]. And so we approach decisions in very different ways and play different roles. He tends to come up with big ideas_ then I'm the one who goes around trying to test them. He's brilliant at sales. I worry about construction.

If the business fails, well, that puts a strain on the marriage. But what if it succeeds? That can enhance the marriage. When it comes to business and relationships, I don't buy this idea of diversification. It neglects comparative advantage. The best way to lower risk is to specialize: Put the things that you love into one portfolio.

NEXT: Charlene Begley
Last updated April 30 2008: 4:31 PM ET
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