Logos Institute for Crisis Management and Executive Leadership Press is pleased to announce that the Chinese language translation of its book The Agony of Decision: Mental Readiness and Leadership in a Crisis has been published in Beijing.



The Agony of Decision is the first title published by Logos Institute for Crisis Management and Executive Leadership Press in July 2017.

The author is Logos Consulting Group president Helio Fred Garcia.

The Chinese publisher is Posts & Telecom Press, a leading publisher of business and non-fiction titles in China. The Chinese translation had been scheduled for publication in February 2020, but the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic delayed publication. Given the continuing recovery in China that began in the last few weeks, the publisher is now positioning the book as an essential tool for Chinese leaders in all sectors to be able to restore trust of critical stakeholders that was lost in the pandemic.



As with the English edition, the Chinese edition is available as a physical book, an e-book, and an audio book. The Chinese language title is 从危到机: 危机中的决策之痛与领导之术, which translates roughly into English as From Danger to Opportunity: The Agony of Decision-Making and Leadership in Crisis.

The Chinese edition is available at all major Chinese online markets, including Dangdang, JD, Taobao (Alibaba), and Amazon China (e-book available for download only in China).

The Chinese edition was translated from English by Xinyin Lu, deputy director of the Institute of Corporate Communication at the Academy of Media and Public Affairs at the Communication University of China, and by Dr. Steven Guanpeng Dong, Chair Professor and Dean of the School of Government and Public Affairs at the Communication University of China, the leading Chinese university specializing in journalism, communication, documentary filmmaking, and related disciplines. Dr. Dong also wrote the foreword to the Chinese edition.


Dr. Steven Guanpeng Dong, translator and author of the foreword.


Translator Xinyin Lu


The Chinese edition of The Agony of Decision has been endorsed by:

  • Yang Yujun, dean of the Academy of Media and Public Affairs at the Communication University of China, former head of the Information Bureau of the Ministry of National Defense of China, and former spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense of China. Both Yang and Dr. Dong are part of the Expert Committee for the COVID-19 pandemic in China.
  • Du Shaozhong, vice chair of All-China Environment Federation (ACEF), and former deputy director and spokesperson for the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau.
  • Wang Lianglan, former spokesperson for The National Medical Products Administration (the FDA of China)
  • Lv Dapeng, spokesperson for China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (NYSE: SNP, $1,217B market cap)
  • Wu Huanling, managing director of China Public Relations Association (CPRA), former vice president of General electric medical system (China) Co., Ltd.,

Dr. Steven Guanpeng Dong

The Chinese edition was made possible by Dr. Steven Guanpeng Dong, Chair Professor and Dean of the School of Government and Public Affairs, and Provost for Faculty of Professional Studies, Executive Education and Continuing Education at the Communication University of China.

Dr. Dong is also Vice Chairman of the China Public Relations Association (CPRA) and Vice Chair of Communication and Education, All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce.

He is one of the official advisors for transparent governance, strategic communications and crisis management for the State Council Ministries.

Dr. Steven Guanpeng Dong conducting a television interview at Communication University of China, 2015

Prior to his current appointments, Dr. Dong was a presenter for the BBC World Service in London and a morning news anchor for the China Central Television (CCTV).

Dr. Dong was among the founders of Journalism School and the founding Chair and former director of the Institute of Public Relations and Strategic Communications at Tsinghua University. He is also a very popular professor of strategic communications for the prestigious EMBA, EDP and DBA programs at Tsinghua University.

He was appointed the Shorenstein Fellow on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University in 2009, and most recently as an Eisenhower Fellow by the Eisenhower Fellowships in Philadelphia, USA.

In 2019, Logos Institute for Crisis Management and Executive Leadership awarded Dr. Dong its Outstanding Leader Award in recognition of his consequential professional achievement that sets the standard to which other leaders may aspire; his use of strategic communication to change the world; and having inspired and empowered the next generation of leaders through teaching, mentoring, for their advocacy on behalf of others.

Logos president Helio Fred Garcia presenting the Logos Institute Outstanding Leader Award to Dr. Steven Guanpeng Dong, May, 2019

The Agony of Decision: Mental Readiness and Leadership in a Crisis is about how leaders and the organizations they lead can maintain reputation, trust, confidence, financial and operational strength, and competitive advantage in a crisis. First, by thinking clearly; second by making smart choices; and third by executing those choices effectively.

But making smart choices in a crisis can be agonizing.

The difference between leaders who handle crises well and those who handle crises poorly is mental readiness: the ability some leaders exhibit that allows them to make smart choices quickly in a crisis. And this ability creates real competitive advantage. One of the predictable patterns of crisis response is that the severity of the crisis event does not determine whether an organization and its leader get through a crisis effectively. Indeed, two organizations, similarly situated, can see dramatically different outcomes based on the quality and timeliness of their individual responses to the crisis events.

And the ability to respond effectively in a timely way is a consequence of mental readiness. This book is for leaders of organizations who need to be good stewards of reputation, trust, and confidence; and for those who advise those leaders, whether in public relations, or law, or other business disciplines.

Graphic of The Ten Most Common Mis-Steps in a Crisis, from the Chinese Edition of The Agony of Decsion


In 2018 The Agony of Decision was named one of the Best Crisis Management Books of All Time (#2 of 51) by the leading nonfiction book review site BookAuthority. It is currently listed #3 of 100 All-Time Best Crisis Management Books. BookAuthority uses a proprietary technology to identify and rate the best nonfiction books, using dozens of different signals, including public mentions, recommendations, ratings, sentiment, popularity and sales history.


The Agony of Decision has been adopted in a number of universities and professional schools in the United States and abroad.

Garcia was planning a teaching and speaking trip to China in conjunction with the publication of the Chinese edition. But the COVID-19 crisis in the United States makes such a visit impossible for the foreseeable future.


Logos Institute Thought Leadership in China


Logos Institute for Crisis Management and Executive Leadership has been a thought leader in China for nearly ten years.

The Agony of Decision is the second book by Helio Fred Garcia to be published in Chinese. The first was his 2012 book The Power of Communication: Skills to Build Trust, Inspire Loyalty, and Lead Effectively.

In 2014 Power of Communication was published in Chinese by Pearson Education Asia Ltd in Hong Kong and Publishing House of Electronics Industry in Beijing under the title 沟通的力量.

In 1991, Logos president Helio Fred Garcia was invited to be an International Distinguished Scholar at Tsinghua University as part of an international exchange on crisis management among academics, business leaders, the government, and outside experts. Tsinghua is consistently named the top one or two university in China.

At Tsinghua, Garcia taught graduate students in the Institute for Public Relations and Strategic Communication of the School of Journalism and Communication.

He also taught at a number of Chinese government ministries, including the Ministry of Finance and the Chinese Food and Drug Administration. And he did a workshop for the chief spokesperson of all the ministries. He also keynoted conferences for a number of non-governmental organizations and associations.

In 2015, in conjunction with the Chinese language publication of The Power of Communication, Garcia conducted an extensive teaching and speaking tour of China.

He taught in both the MBA and graduate communication programs of more than a dozen leading universities, including Tsinghua University, Peking University, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Nankai University, Communication University of China, and Nanjing University He also delivered keynotes at major corporate events.

Since 2015, Garcia has been a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Corporate Communication at Communication University of China.

In addition to The Agony of Decision and The Power of Communication, Garcia is co-author (with John Doorley) of Reputation Management: The Key to Successful Public Relations and Corporate Communication, fourth edition pending July, 2020, third edition 2015; second edition 2011; first edition 2007 by Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group; Korean language edition 2016 by Alma Books, Seoul, Republic of Korea.  His two-volume book Crisis Communications was published by AAAA Publications in 1999.

Garcia’s next book, due in June 2020, is Words on Fire: The Power of Incendiary Language and How to Confront It.

On March 4, 2020, Logos Institute fellow Yinnan Shen launched a new elective, Elevate Multicultural Competence, for graduate students at Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, also known as Columbia Engineering.

The course is designed primarily for international students, who are susceptible to a common challenge of living abroad – culture shock – defined by Michael Winkelman as, “a multifaceted experience resulting from numerous stressors occurring in contact with a different culture.” 

(Yinnan sharing her story when she first moved to New York)

Yinnan moved to the United States in 2015. She has dealt with culture shock herself since then and has concluded patterns of what works and what doesn’t when living in a culture outside of one’s own. Equipped with both academic research and lived-through experience, Yinnan shared ways to effectively manage culture shock and adapt to the new culture, with an emphasis on striking a balance between the host culture’s expectations and the values and identities associated one’s home culture.

When what is expected from the host culture and what is acceptable to oneself are in conflict, Yinnan shared, it’s important to consciously make the decision of whether to adapt to the host culture’s expectations in specific situations. She created a two-question decision-making criterion to guide students when deciding whether to or not to adapt.

Yinnan also explained how the process of deliberate adaptation and striking the balance between one’s home and host culture can help build an individual’s multicultural competence, which in turn transforms one’s seeming disadvantaged background into a competitive advantage. 

The graduate students Yinnan spoke to were enrolled in Columbia Engineering’s Professional Development & Leadership (PDL) program. Roughly 80% students in the program are international students. The PDL program’s objective is to build the engineering leaders of today and tomorrow, by equipping its students with the skills and tools necessary to maximize performance. The program’s curriculum was developed in part by Logos Consulting Group president Helio Fred Garcia, who teaches ethics, crisis, and leadership as an adjunct associate professor of the PDL program. 

All of the 25 students who attended Yinnan’s class were international students, who at the end of the session expressed how much the content resonated with them, and how liberating it is to know they are not struggling alone and that there are ways to effectively deal with the challenges they are facing. 

A version of this post appeared on CommPro.biz on July 24, 2019.

by Helio Fred Garcia

I am an immigrant, an American by choice.

I choose to be an American because of all the places in the world – and I’ve been fortunate to have visited or worked in dozens of countries on six continents – this is one of the few places where your birth circumstances do not determine the rest of your life. And where the national aspiration, still a work in progress, encourages us to be our better selves.

I have been able to build a good life here. I married a wonderful person, and together we’ve raised two remarkable young women. I graduated from two of the finest universities in the land and am a professor at both. I’ve worked with or for some of the best companies in the world.

I pass as an American, and I carry with me all of the manifestations of white privilege.

But it wasn’t always so.

Welcome to America – Now Go Home, Or Else!

When I arrived from South America as a young child, I was a different from the other kids. I was an easy mark. Scrawny. With an unpronounceable name, a heavy foreign accent, and a very weak command of the English language.

I was the Other. And I was a target. I was tormented for years by a pack of boys who saw in me an opportunity to feel superior. I was constantly told to go back to where I came from. But what began with taunting and insult and name-calling metastasized into physical violence and sexual humiliation. I was beaten. I was held down by the boys, who took turns peeing on me and then ran off, laughing.

More than 50 years later I carry scars around my eyes where I was kicked with a heavy boot. Now that I no longer have hair, many other scars are noticeable, especially on the top and back of my head, where I was hit with sticks, with rocks, and in at least one instance, with a brick. I also have scars on my soul.

But I was also very lucky. I had a number of caring and gifted teachers who made me their project, investing time and love not only in school but also beyond the classroom. Because of them I came of age on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, as a Page, watching the House consider articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon. Since then I’ve met presidents and prime ministers, one king, several princes, one pope, and hundreds of religious leaders of most of the world’s faith traditions. I’ve advised hundreds of CEOs and public officials. I’ve visited the White House on business three times, under three presidents.

But in my seventh decade I still have a visceral fear of being alone with men with whom I don’t have a relationship of authority. I avoid sporting events; I don’t hang out with groups of men. I have only a handful of male friends. My therapist advises me that nearly 50 years after the assaults I still suffer from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder. I’m still the cowering little boy terrified of the bullies.

Semper Fi!

My father worked for nearly 30 years for the United States Army, teaching soldiers and soldiers-in-training. He and my mother, who never became citizens, are buried in the West Point cemetery. My Dad always told me that there is no greater honor than to teach people who wear the uniform of the armed forces of the United States.

When I was 21 I became an American citizen. I took an oath affirming that I would protect and defend the constitution and serve the nation. I have done so.

Although I have never worn the uniform myself, for almost 30 years I have taught and advised senior officers of the United States military – mostly Marines. I have taught dozens of generals and thousands of senior officers and NCOs, and also senior members of each of the other armed services. Almost all of this teaching has been on a pro bono publico basis. It’s my form of national service.

Teaching at the Marine Corps School of Infantry – East at Camp Lejeune, NC, 2019

Most of my career has been a form of overcompensation for being inarticulate and powerless. I have worked for some of the top communication consulting firms. For almost 20 years I’ve owned and run a crisis management and leadership communication consulting and coaching firm. Our work helps leaders become better leaders by harnessing their own power with humility and empathy, building trust by connecting meaningfully with others. I’ve written four books about how to use the power of communication for good.

But I’ve also been acutely aware of the use of communication to hurt, to harm, and to humiliate. And of how dehumanizing and demonizing language can lead some people to commit acts of violence.

The Tone from the Top

The Holocaust Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide defines “dangerous speech” as hate speech that, under the right conditions, can influence people to accept, condone and commit violence against members of a group.

And we’re seeing that kind of speech right now. On July 14 President Trump tweeted about four freshmen members of Congress, all women of color. One, Rep. Ilhan Omar, is a refugee from Somalia, who came to America when she was a child, became an American citizen, and has chosen a career in public service. The others are all American-born citizens. Trump’s tweet:

“So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done.

Of course, three of the four did not come from outside the United States. But whether they did or not, “go back to where you came from” is a familiar experience of many immigrants. It is even embodied in U.S. law, as a prime example of racism. The U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, on its website on Immigrants’ Employment Rights, lists it as an explicit example of the kind of language that may violate federal employment laws:

“Examples of potentially unlawful conduct include insults, taunting, or ethnic epithets, such as making fun of a person’s foreign accent or comments like, ‘Go back to where you came from,’ whether made by supervisors or by co-workers.

Donald Trump’s statement about these four members of the House of Representatives is merely the most recent manifestation an unprecedented phenomenon: the use of language by a president of the United States that inspires some people to commit violence.

Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, speaking of President Trump in February 2019, said,

“People really do listen to their leaders… The civility of our dialogue is deviating downward, such that individuals… feel emboldened and, perhaps, even entitled to take matters into his own hands and carry out acts of violence.”

All four congresswomen report significant increases in death threats against them. But we also see disinhibition that subjects immigrants – and those perceived to be immigrants – to insult, exclusion, and violence.

Ten days after Trump’s Go Back comments, one of my former students, from China, was spit on by a well-dressed man who shouted, “Stupid Asian, go back to your country.” When I posted that on Facebook, another student, from Peru, shared that the day before a client — a client! — asked where she was from, and then asked, “Why don’t you go back there, then.” Many more of my friends, colleagues, and students have since reported similar experiences, with a noticeable uptick this week.

I worry about the effect of Trump’s language, which may influence some of his followers to commit violence against his rivals and critics. But I worry more about the current generation of immigrants. However bad my experience was — and it was pretty bad — back then there was no president of the United States inspiring insult, humiliation, and violence against me and other immigrants.

* * * * * * *

Helio Fred Garcia is currently writing a book about language that inspires violence, including Donald Trump’s language. The views expressed in this post are his alone, and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization or individual.




Religions for Peace is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition, advancing common action among the world’s religious communities for peace. Logos Consulting Group has advised Religions for Peace as a pro bono publico client for more than 15 years, and Logos president Helio Fred Garcia has served on its Board of International Trustees for the past six years.

The global Religions for Peace network comprises a World Council of senior religious leaders from all regions of the world; six regional inter-religious councils and more than 90 national ones; and the Global Women of Faith Network and Global Interfaith Youth Network.


L to R: Bishop Gunnar Stalsett, Bishop Emeritus of Oslow, Church of Norway, and Honorary President of Religions for Peace; Metropolitan Emanuel Adamakis, Vice President, Conference of European Churches; Cardinal Raymundo Assis, Archbishop Emeritus of Aparecida, São Paulo, Brazil.


In mid-October 2017 Religions for Peace held its annual meeting of its World Council of religious leaders and its Board of International Trustees, as a strategy planning session for the next World Assembly of Religions for Peace, in 2019.

Dr. William H. Vendley, Secretary General of Religions for Peace, briefing the meeting on the current state of Religions for Peace.


The meeting was held in the American Academy in Rome, Italy.

The theme of the meeting was “Advancing a Moral Alliance Among the World’s Religions for an Integral Ecology,” using a phrase that Pope Francis coined in a recent encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’. The meeting began with a private audience with His Holiness, Pope Francis, in the Vatican.

His Holiness addressing the Religions for Peace World Council of Religious Leaders and Board of International Trustees in the Vatican


In his address to the Religions for Peace World Council and Board, His Holiness said,

“I express my esteem and appreciation for the work of Religions for Peace. You provide a valuable service to both religion and peace, for religions are bound by their very nature to promote peace through justice, fraternity, disarmament, and care for creation.

There is a need for a common and cooperative effort on the part of religions in promoting an integral ecology. The religions have the wherewithal to further a moral covenant that can promote respect for the dignity of the human person and care for creation.

Thanks be to God, in various parts of the world we have any number of good examples of the power of inter-religious cooperation to oppose violent conflicts, to advance sustainable development and to protect the earth. Let us continue along this path.”

Logos president Helio Fred Garcia meeting His Holiness, Pope Francis at the beginning of the Religions for Peace Board meeting.


The Vatican played a central role in the meeting, through the offices of Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, a part of the Roman Curia, the Vatican’s administrative body.

L to R: Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubaje, Grand Mufti, Uganda Muslim Supreme Council; Cardinal Jean Louise Tauran, President, Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the Vatican; Ayatollah Dr. Seyyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad, Dean, Department of Islamic Studies, Academy of Sciences, Iran; Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh, Chairman, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, UK, Kenya, India.


The two-day meeting featured substantive planning of critical issues to be addressed in the next World Assembly of Religions for Peace, held every seven to nine years, that brings together more than 2,000 religious leaders from all major faith communities in the world.

L to R: Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, Trustee, Professor, Columbia University, and Special Advisor, UN Secretary-General on Sustainable Development Goals; Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubaje, Grand Mufti, Uganda Muslim Supreme Council;Bishop Gunnar Stalsett, Bishop Emeritus of Oslow, Church of Norway; Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria; Religions for Peace Secretary General Dr. William Vendley; and Mrs. Christine Brown, Trustee, and Chair, Institute of Healthy Air, Water, and Soil, Louisville, Kentucky.


The planning meeting in mid-October, 2017 included working groups in three separate work streams:

  • Conflict transformation: the use of religious leadership and religious community to stop violence being conducted in the name of religion; to prevent conflicts from occurring in the first place; and to create social conditions for peace and stability in otherwise unstable parts of the world. Religions for Peace acknowledges the reality that religion is all-too-often being misused in support of violent threats to Peace – by extremists, by unscrupulous politicians, by the sensationalist media, and others. Through the years Religions for Peace has amassed a record of successful engagement in a number of conflict areas, including: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Burundi, Somalia, Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the Mano River and Great Lakes African sub-regions, Thailand, the Philippines, Myanmar, Iraq, Israel and Palestine, and Syria.

    Ayatollah Dr. Seyyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad, Dean, Department of Islamic Studies, Academy of Sciences, Iran, denouncing ISIS and others who hijack the identity of Islam to commit violence, and calling for all Islamic leaders to denounce violence in the name of Islam.


  • Sustainable development: equipping religious leaders and communities with the necessary resources and knowledge to address critical issues of health and well-being, education, climate action, and distribution of resources to reveal the potential inherent in all human communities. Extreme poverty threatens peace and human flourishing by depleting health, perpetuating existing inequalities, and jeopardizing access to basic human rights.

Jeffrey Sachs, Trustee, Professor, Columbia University and Special Advisor, UN Secretary-General on Sustainable Development Goals, addressing the challenges of sustainable development.


  • Protecting the earth: addressing climate change, safe drinking water, and other environmental challenges. Religions for Peace is faced with a clear moral imperative to respond to threats to the planet. For the world’s major religions, care for the earth is a religious obligation. Working with top climate scientists and development experts, Religions for Peace has developed and deployed climate sensitive advocacy and action training materials across its global networks as well as implemented multi religious initiatives in partnership with other concerned entities—especially the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the Vatican.

Logos President Helio Fred Garcia presenting a strategic path for religious leaders and communities to protect the earth.


Each working group developed a statement of problem, a proposed path forward to engage the world’s religious communities, and actionable steps to take between now and the World Assembly to show the impact that multi-religious cooperation can have on each of these challenges.

L to R Religions for Peace International Co-Moderators, Dr. Vinu Aram, Director, Shanti Ashram, India; Rev. Kosho Niwano, President-Designate, Rissho Kossei-kai, Japan.

These recommendations will now become part of the work coordinated by Religions for Peace’s International Secretariat, based at the United Nations in New York, and will be implemented through the six regional and more than 90 national inter-religious councils in the Religions for Peace network over the next two years. Results from that work will form the policy agenda for tenth World Assembly of Religions for Peace in 2019.

The Religions for Peace World Council of Religious Leaders, Board of International Trustees, and invited civic and foundation leaders, at the American Academy in Rome


By Iris Wenting Xue

Graphic Design is the communication framework
through which messages about what the world is now —
and what we should aspire to — reach us.
— Rick Poynor, British writer on design and visual culture

I love fonts.

So I was delighted recently when Ogilvy New York created “TypeVoice,” a website that allows users to generate their own font with their own voice. The technology of TypeVoice records a user’s voice through a computer’s microphone and uses volume, pitch, and other audio parameters as variables and delivers to the user a customized font.

I share a deep interest in fonts, especially when I am typing or reading online content. The typeface and spacing between letters and lines can have subtle but decisive impact on my perception – almost as if good typography puts me in a good mood.

Font is something that is everywhere and at the heart of everything we do. But font is also something that we easily overlook. But font is also one realm in which a small change can shake your world.

I am intrigued by the aesthetics of typeface. But more intriguing is the science behind typography.

Now, follow me and let’s start the adventure!


The Aesthetic of Fonts

Before reading the book The Miracle of Font (フォントのふしぎ) by font designer Akira Kobayashi, I could hardly imagine that font designer was a job. I experienced fonts as pre-installed in computer systems. In his book, the font designer, who studied and worked in Japan, Germany and the U.K., shows photos of fonts and insights on how fonts communicate around the world.font book cover

For example, when we see the logo of Louis Vuitton, we immediately associate it with luxury bags and fancy fashion shows.

But in Kobayashi’s eyes, the design of the logo helps the brand to build the high-end image with its kerning – a typography term for the space between each letter. See the comparison:LV font

During my research on logotypes, I found a blog post that describes on how luxury brands design their logos with meticulous attention to font and kerning, and know that a small change in either can cause a significantly different perception of the brand.

Why does the space between letters matter?

Kobayashi does not give us a final word, but he provides another example from ancient Rome. If you have visited the Pantheon or the Foro Romano (Roman Forum), you will be surprised that the ancient Romans did the same spacing between letters 2,000 years ago.

Kobyashi shows photos of the Roman inscriptions as follow:
Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 11.55.19 AM

From a font designer’s view, Kobayashi explains that the ancient Romans intentionally spaced letters apart from each other, and made the words at the bottom smaller than those at the top. So, when people stand in front of the inscription, all the characters appear to be the same size because of the distortion of our view caused by the horizontal and vertical distance in between the letters.

According to The Study of Greek Inscriptions by A. G. Woodhead, the letters of Greek inscriptions are closely packed horizontally, whereas a certain space is left vertically between the lines. This is artistically effective, especially when the inscription calls for variety in size.


The Science Behind Fonts

In Space Between Words: The Origins of Silent Reading, Paul Saenger describes the neurophysiological effect kerning on the reading process in his book:

“Experiments demonstrate that the placing of symbols within the space between words, while preserving separation in a strictly grammatical sense, greatly reduces the neurophysiological advantages of word separation and produces ocular behavior resembling that associated with un-separated text.
From the reader’s vantage point, the salient quality of intra-textual space is not its relative width in comparison with a letter, but the rapidity with which the eye can distinguish it from the spaces otherwise contained within a text, that is, the space between letters and within letters.”


So, the space between letters and the space within letters need to be intentional. Neurophysiologically, the kerning helps us read more easily, whether ancient inscriptions or modern logotypes.

Kevin Larson of Microsoft Advanced Reading Technologies and Rosalind Picard of Massachusetts Institute of Technology argue that good typeface leads to better cognition.

They prepared the same content, an article from the New Yorker, using two different typefaces. They showed one half of a study group the text in good typography and the other half the identical copy in poor typography. Participants were asked to perform cognitive tasks after reading the texts.


Those who read the good typography performed better than those who read the poor typography. In one task 4 out of 10 participants who read the good typography successfully solved the task, but 0 out of 9 participants who read the poor typography solved the task.


The Most Influential Font Around the World

The one font that influences the world the most is Helvetica.

Here is a brief list of the famous brands that apply Helvetica in their logo:


The word Helvetica itself comes from the Latin name for the pre-Roman tribes of what became Switzerland. But today it is really considered as a global font in modern font design. There is even a Helvetica documentary that explores how the typeface affects our lives.

As someone who cannot live without museums and exhibitions, I feel so regretful to miss the 50 Years of Helvetica exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Helvetica is also the first typeface acquired for MoMA’s collection.

German typographer Erik Spiekermann jokes about how much the world loves to use this typeface: “Most people who use Helvetica, use it because it’s ubiquitous. It’s like going to McDonald’s instead of thinking about food. Because it’s there, it’s on every street corner.”

Helvetica has also been used globally in the transportation system. It is the official typeface of the New York City Subway (MTA).

Helvetica has also been applied as the corporate type of Lufthansa to unify its corporate image. The German airline applies the typeface of its logo to all forms of writing, from the menu on flights, to postcards to all publications and screens in the cabin. Even “Welcome” in its brochure and screen is written in Helvetica. In this way the typeface consistently represents the corporate image of Lufthansa.


Why did Helvetica conquer the world? Here I have three answers.

  • First, as the description in MoMA’s exhibition reads: “Helvetica communicates with simple, well-proportioned letterforms that convey an aesthetic clarity that is at once universal, neutral, and undeniably modern.”
  • Second, when the designer of Helvetica died in 2014, the Guardian newspaper explained, “In 1960s America, the new discipline of corporate identity consultancy used Helvetica like a high-pressure hose, blasting away the preceding decades of cursive scripts, pictorial logos, excitable exclamation marks and general typographical chaos, and leaving in its place a world of cool, factual understatement.”
  • My own answer is much simpler: Helvetica was designed in the time (1957) where the post-war world was craving a change. Its simplicity and clarity is just the opposite of those old decorative fonts. That is probably also the reason why there are so many anti-Helvetica voices today. This font leads the trend of clarity and simplicity in font design for 59 years. It might be time for another change.


How Fonts affect Business

Now we know the aesthetic and science behind fonts, and we know how much love companies can show towards one particular typeface. With the background knowledge, we can easily understand why the following backlash happen:

Half year ago, Google and Apple changed their fonts one after another.

Google applied a custom geometric sans serif Product Sans to remain its “simple, friendly and approachable” style by, “combining the mathematical purity of geometric forms with the childlike simplicity of schoolbook letter printing.”

At the same time, Apple’s new system iOS 9 came equipped with the new font San Francisco – the same font used on the Apple Watch.

If you check the online comments of these two font changes, you will find predominantly negative feedback. (Since most of them contain words that are too unpleasant to share, I would suggest you read Why You Hate Google’s New Logo by The New Yorker and Why Apple Abandoned The World’s Most Beloved Typeface by Wired.) (pictures of both changes)

In 2009, IKEA changed the font of its logo from Futura to Verdana. The intention, according to Ikea’s spokesperson Monika Gocic, was that, “it’s more efficient and cost-effective.” We don’t know how much IKEA saved, but we do know that the change caused public disapproval and protests demanding the furniture retailer change back to the original logo.


In 2010, Gap Inc. also changed the font of its classic logo from Spire to Helvetica, which also evoked huge backlash. One angry designer described the new logo as “a grilled chicken without salt and pepper” because the typeface was not aligned with the brand image. Within one week, Gap Inc. gave up the new alteration and have been using the original logo ever since. (pictures of both changes)



It is no surprise that such arbitrary changes caused a public backlash. As we have learned from previous scientific theories, a good typography can induce good mood and a bad typography can induce bad mood.

In the context of changing brand logotype, consumers are angry not because of how the new font looks, but because the old one, with which they have a strong emotional connection, is gone without reasonable explanation or timely heads-up. So, don’t blame consumers, it’s not their fault, it’s the amygdala that controls their reaction.





by Iris Wenting Xue

One year ago, I organized a four-week book tour for the Chinese edition of Power of Communication, visiting more than 15 prestigious universities and participating in many events in four Chinese cities.

Yonghe Temple

During the trip, I had one day off on my birthday while we were in Beijing. As a birthday gift to myself, I visited the Yonghe Temple (also known as Yonghe Lamasery), the largest and most perfectly preserved lamasery in China. It was built more than 400 years ago and was the imperial palace of the Yongzheng Emperor, the fifth emperor of the Qing Dynasty. After the Yongzheng Emperor’s ascension to the throne, the imperial palace became a Tibetan Buddhist lamasery.

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 4.03.47 PM

The Yonghe Temple reminded me of my old days in Tibet – admiring the way lamas debated each other to come to a clearer understanding of Buddhism. It also reminded me of watching crows lingering over the top of the mountains. The smell of the incense and the poor-quality air at the Yonghe Temple mingled together smoothly. I do not subscribe to a particular religious tradition, but I respect all faiths. As I stood there, I reflected upon how religion and history intertwine in the same way those scents mingled together.

One year later, I gave myself another special birthday gift. Last Sunday, I visited the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York. I decided to visit that place because there are some very significant Chinese notables buried there, including the former First Lady of the Republic of China (ROC).


My motherland China is famous for its five thousand years of history. My hometown Shanghai is famous as “The Paris of the East” during the 1920s and 1930s, the beginning of the ROC. I love everything about the old Shanghai and read many books by Ailing Chang, Leo Ou-fan Lee, Geling Yan, Kenneth Hsien-yung Pai and other writers who are either from that era or wrote a lot about that era. Everything from that era fascinates me. That is also why when I learned that the former First Lady of the ROC, the former Premier of the ROC, the former top diplomat of the ROC, and former governors of the ROC government and Central Bank are all buried in Ferncliff Cemetery, I knew I had to go.

The world lost several distinguished leaders this spring. We lost Nancy Reagan. We lost Harper Lee. We lost Umberto Eco. We lost “China’s Nightingale” Xiaoyan Zhou. We lost Egyptian journalist Mohamed Hassanein Heikal. We lost Japanese writer Satoko Tsushima (daughter of the renowned Japanese writer Osama Dazai).

died leaders

We are rarely able to decide the way we leave the world, but we can easily decide the way we want people to remember us. Even the space in which our bodies take our final rest connotes the way we will be remembered. For example, in the history of the ROC, some notables made their memorials very ostentatious, while others opted for more low-key resting grounds.

The three mausoleums housing the first ROC President, the first female Vice-Chairman of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and the first President of modern ROC in Taiwan were all built in an extravagant way:

  • In his oral will, Sun Yat-sen, ROC’s founding father, wanted his remains to be embalmed for public display, just as the Soviet Union publicly displayed Lenin’s remains. But the Soviet Union did not agree to share their embalming techniques, as they believe that only Lenin can be “immortal.” In the end, China built a 80,000 square meter mausoleum for Sun in Nanjing, which is now a popular tourist attraction.
  • Sun’s wife, Soong Ching-ling, also known as Madame Sun Yat-sen and one of the “Soong sisters,” had served as the Vice Chairman of PRC and survived heavy criticism during the Cultural Revolution. Her tomb is located in Shanghai and has also become a tourist attraction.
  • Sun Yat-sen’s successor, Chiang Kai-shek, who ruled Taiwan as President of the Republic of China and General of the Kuomintang until his death in 1975, is “temporarily” resting in the Cihu Mausoleum in Taiwan. It’s temporary because he wished to be ultimately buried in his hometown in Zhejiang province once the Kuomintang recovered Mainland China from the Communists. He was not buried in the traditional way, but entombed in a black marble sarcophagus. He may end up being this way for a long time.
  • (Left: Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum; Right: Soong Ching-ling’s Mausoleum; Bottom: Chiang Kai-shek’s Mausoleum)墓园

On the other hand, the former First Lady of the ROC, the other two of the three Soong sisters, the former Premier of the ROC, one of the most influential Chinese diplomats and core leaders of the former Chinese Central Bank are buried in a very low-key way in the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York:

  • Chiang Kai-shek’s wife Soong May-ling, who was not only a First Lady of the ROC, but also Soong Ching-ling’s younger sister and Sun’s sister in law, is buried in a private room in the Ferncliff Mausoleum. Her lifespan covered three centuries (19th, 20th and 21st). According to The New York Times, she is the only first lady during World War II who lived into the 21st century[1]. She did not want to be buried with her older sister Song Ching-ling in Shanghai nor with her husband in Taiwan. Rather, she wanted to be buried next to her eldest sister, Soong Ai-ling, who died before her and was already buried in Ferncliff.
  • The eldest Soong sister, Soong Ai-ling, who was also a sister-in-law of both Sun Yat-sen and Chiang kai-shek, rests next to Soong May-ling’s private room in Ferncliff. Soong Ai-ling seemed to be the most low profile Soong compared to her Vice Chairman sister and her First Lady sister. However, she was Sun Yat-sen’s chief secretary after her graduation from Wesleyan College – all Soong sisters are Wesleyan’s alumnae – and gave the job to her younger sister Soong Ching-ling, who later became Sun’s wife. Soong Ai-ling was also the matchmaker for Chiang Kai-shek and Soong May-ling. Soong Ai-ling is buried with her husband, Kung Hsiang-hsi, and their children, making her the only Soong who is buried with her husband and has children.
  • Soong Ai-ling’s husband, Kung Hsiang-hsi, is buried alongside her and their children in Ferncliff Mausoleum. He was the former Premier, former Minister of Industry and Commerce, former Minister of Finance of the ROC and former Governor of the Central bank of China. He received a master’s degree in economics from Yale University.
  • Kung’s brother-in-law, Soong Tse-ven, is one level down in the same Mauseloum building. Soong Tse-ven was also highly influential in determining the economic and diplomatic policies of the ROC government in the 1930s and 1940s. After graduating with a master’s degree in economics from Harvard University and a doctorate degree in economics at Columbia University, Soong Tse-ven returned to China and served in the Kuomintang-controlled government as the Minister of Finance, the Governor of the Central Bank of China, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He was the head of the Chinese delegation to the United Nations Conference on International Organization in San Francisco in 1945, which later became the United Nations. He was in charge of negotiating with the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in Moscow and in charge of negotiating with the 33rdS. President Harry Truman in Washington, D.C.
  • The second youngest brother in the Soong family, Soong Tse-liang, is also buried in Ferncliff Cemetery. He was not as influential as his sisters and brother, but he also served as the Secretary for Foreign Affairs in the ROC government.
  • (Upper Left: Kung with 

    Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten

    ; Upper Right: Soong Tse-ven on TIME’s cover; Bottom Left: Soong May-ling on NBC; Bottom Right: Soong Ai-ling graduated from Wesleyan College.)


The Soong sisters are not the only Chinese notables in Ferncliff Cemetery. The cemetery listed three Chinese in their Celebrites & Notables list: Madame Chiang, Soong Tse-ven and Wellington Vi Kyuin Koo. Koo was a very prominent diplomat of the ROC. He attended the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 as one of China’s representatives; he served as an Ambassador to France, Great Britain and the United States; he was a participant in the founding of the United Nations; he sat as a judge on the International Court of Justice in The Hague in the mid 20th Century.
Photo of the members of the commission of the League of Nations created by the Plenary Session of the Preliminary Peace Conference, Paris, France, 1919(Photo of the members of the commission of the League of Nations created by the Plenary Session of the Preliminary Peace Conference, Paris, France, 1919.Wellington Vi Kyuin Koo is the 4th standing from right to left.)

Koo’s daughter, Patricia Koo Tsien, a senior official in the United Nations and the founder of the Ad Hoc Group on Equal Rights for Women in the U. N. Secretariat, is buried next to her husband on the second floor of the Ferncliff Mausoleum. Another influential Chinese diplomat, Dr. Victor Chi-tsai Hoo, the first Chinese Under-Secretary of the United Nations, is buried in the same building.

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 5.15.13 PM(Patricia Koo Tsien in 1989. Source: Columbia Library columns)

The last unexpected name I saw in Ferncliff Cemetery is not as famous as any of the rest, but completes the puzzle of a well-known Chinese romantic epic. There was a legendary Chinese poet Xu Zhi-mo in the beginning of the ROC. He was legendary in part because of his romantic poems, and his friendship with the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore, but mostly because of his romance with three Chinese women. He had two sons with his first wife, Yu-Yi Chang, a woman he never loved but who he married at his parents’ direction. Xu finished his studies at Columbia University and flew to London, and fell in love with Chinese architect and writer Lin Hui-yin. His most renowned poem is about his feelings for her and their days together in Cambridge. By the way, Lin Hui-yin’s niece is Maya Lin, the designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Xu divorced his wife, but Lin only ever saw Xu as a friend. Xu later married another Chinese artist, Lu Xiaoman. This union was regarded as unethical because two divorcees getting married was not considered appropriate in China 90 years ago. Xu died in a plane crash in 1931. Lin Hui-yin died in 1955 and is buried in Revolutionary Cemetery in Peking because she contributed to the design of the Chinese national flag, the National Emblem of the People’s Republic of China and the Monument to the People’s Heroes located in the Tiananmen Square. Lu died in 1965 and is buried in Suzhou. Chang was not as famous as Xu’s other love interests, but she had another happy marriage after her divorce with Xu and lived much longer (she died in 1988). She is buried in Ferncliff Maseoulum. And her son with Xu and daughter-in-law are buried beside her.

(Lin Hui-yin,Rabindranath Tagore and Xu Zhi-mo)


I was surprised to see so many famous Chinese names in a cemetery in Westchester County, New York. But I am not surprised to see that a part of Chinese history is buried more than 7,000 miles away from China.

I still vividly remember the squawking crows in the cemetery in Hartsdale. I had never thought of the crow as a spirit animal associated with life and death until I saw them in Tibetan lamaseries, in Japanese Shinto shrines, and now in a cemetery in Westchester County.乌鸦神社

People rarely visit a cemetery on their birthdays. I did. And I am still not quite sure if all human beings are born equal, but I am pretty sure all human beings are equal in death. If you visit any public cemeteries, you will find that Christian crosses and Jewish Stars, Chinese names and English names are standing next to each other – sharing together this hallowed ground.



Ailing Chang (1920 – 1995)

Born in Shanghai, Chang is one of the most influencial writers in modern China. Her fiction is among the best Chinese literature of her time.  As University of Southern California professor Dominic Cheung says: “Had it not been for the political division between Nationalist and Communist Chinese, she would almost certainly have won a Nobel Prize[2].” Her second husband, Reyher, was among those who helped to extricate German playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht and his family from Nazi Germany[3]. Chang was found dead in her Los Angles apartment where she had lived as a virtual recluse, according to New York Times Obituaries[4].


Geling Yan (1959 – )


Born in Shanghai, Yan is a renowned novelist and scriptwriter. She is a member of the Hollywood Writer’s Guild of America and the Writer’s Association of China. She served in the People’s Liberation Army during the Cultural Revolution and later as a journalist in the Sino-Vietnamese War, achieving a rank equivalent to Lieutenant Colonel.


Kenneth Pai Hsien-yung (1937 -)


Pai is a famous writer, who wrote about the Old Shanghai, Taiwan, Chicago and New York. He was born Muslim, but attended missionary Catholic schools and embraced Buddhist meditation practices. His father was a well-known Kuomintang General. Pai won the Order of Brilliant Star award for ROC for outstanding contribution.


Leo Ou-fan Lee (1942 – )


Lee is a commentator and author. He was a professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong, Princeton University, Indiana University, University of Chicago, University of California, Los Angeles, and Harvard University. He was elected a Fellow of Academia Sinica (Chinese Academy) in Taiwan.


[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/24/international/asia/24CHIANG.html

[2] http://china.usc.edu/usc-gains-treasured-chinese-collection


[4] http://www.nytimes.com/1995/09/13/obituaries/eileen-chang-74-chinese-writer-revered-outside-the-mainland.html