United Family Looks Forward to the Year of the Ram

Spotlight: United Family Healthcare’s Famous Sheep

Roberta Lipson

Chief Executive Officer, United Family Healthcare

According to Chinese tradition, people born in the Year of the Sheep, or Ram, are kind and compassionate, clever, but humble. Calm and steady. Sensitive and artistic. Ever since coming to China and learning my Chinese zodiac identity, I started noticing that often when I met someone to whom I had a special affinity, I would find out later that they too were born in the Year of the Sheep. That is why I was so surprised to learn that this was not the most popular zodiac sign for Chinese people. In fact, I learned there were also some negative connotations to this zodiac year and Chinese parents even sometimes avoid having babies in the Year of the Sheep.

I was sad to hear this, because I felt that there was no correlation with the negative aspects assigned to the Sheep year and my own experience, or that of my Sheepy friends. I took some time to see what famous people were born in the year of the sheep – the list is full of impressive and successful people:

Michelangelo, Mark Twain, Thomas Alva Edison, Muhammad Ali, Rudolph Valentino, Rachel Carson, Pierre Trudeau, Barbara Walters, Orville Wright, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Bruce Willis, Benicio Del Toro, Claire Danes, Jamie Lynn Spears, Matt LeBlanc, Chow Yun-Fat, Zhang Ziyi, Li Shimin (Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty 618 – 907), Cao Cao (King of Wei in China’s Three Kingdoms Period 220 – 280), Yue Fei (a patriotic general in China’s South Song Dynasty 1127 – 1279), and Empress Dowager Cixi.

Of course I am willing to concede that being born in the Sheep year won’t ensure you future inclusion on this celebrity roster. However, it might in fact help you to get there. Why? Because the traditional belief in the zodiac categorization tends to lower the overall number of babies born in China in that year. And so, those children lucky enough to be born in 2015 will have less competition when it becomes time to enter school, university, or to find good jobs. They will thank their parents for their practical and scientific consideration in planning their birth year.

There is also a saying in Chinese that “two sheep in the family will lock horns”. In fact, my first born is a sheep. Although we do have lots of interesting discussions about things that we have different ideas about – this is normal and healthy as children get older and get their own perspective on the world. However, despite this we have an extremely close and rewarding relationship.

My advice to perspective parents of Sheep? It is the same as the advice I have to parents of Pigs, Roosters, (I have one of each), Dragons, Monkeys, Horses, Snakes, and the rest of the zodiac: No matter which year your bundle of joy was delivered, treasure the opportunity to nurture a new life. Take seriously, but joyously the opportunity to share the wisdom gained through your life experience and pass it on to the next generation with love.

What’s in store for United Family Healthcare in the Year of the Sheep? We will be opening our new hospital in Qingdao, two new clinics in Beijing, one in Haidian, and one in Shuangjing, as well as a new clinic in Shanghai in the Jing An Si neighborhood.

Roberta Lipson is CEO of United Family Healthcare. She has 30 years of experience in the healthcare industry in China. Since she co-founded Chindex in 1981, the company has expanded from its business of capital medical equipment distribution to healthcare delivery. She is the creative force behind the United Family Healthcare brand, and its hospitals and clinics in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Guangzhou, Qingdao, Wuxi and Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia. United Family is the first foreign invested and managed private healthcare group in China. An active leader in the business community in Beijing, Ms. Lipson has served as a director of the U.S. China Business Council, as well as 4 successive terms on the board of the Governors of the American Chamber of Commerce – China (AmCham) and is Co-Chair of the Amcham Healthcare Forum. She also chairs the Board of the United Foundation for China’s Health and is a co- founder of Kehilat Beijing. Ms. Lipson holds a BA from Brandeis University and an MBA from Columbia University.

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