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����A new breed of stars are in the making. The frontmen’s names are shouted by fans in the stadium. Their faces are printed on T-shirts. Their blog entries are pinned on the wall.
����Meet the super band, namely IT guru Kai-fu Lee, 49, e-commerce boss Ma Yun, 46, and training school tycoon Yu Minhong, 48, just to name the few main characters. As China moves into the economic fast lane, a technological and entrepreneurial elite is set to become more influential.
����But can these rich guys really provide nourishing food for young brains?
����Lee, founding president of Google China, spearheads the trend of Chinese entrepreneurs wooing learners.
����A Google search for the IT guru’s name usually returns to the title of “youth mentor”, which he favors, rather than scientist or president.
����“The method of Google is to exert a subtle influence on youth’s minds. A key step is the marketing of Lee,” said Guo Qi, a commentator in IT Time Weekly. “With his background as a professor and his Chinese ethnicity Google brands itself through his speeches and letters.”
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����Life mentors������ʦ
����Early this year, nine universities in Beijing recruited “life mentors” for students from the public. They said, ideally, candidates would be retired Party and governmental officials. They hoped these experienced pensioners would give students on important life issues.
����But, this time, universities just went off on a tangent. According to a China Youth Daily survey in July, over 80 percent of Chinese have read books about success. But statistics released by Ipsos early this year show that 69 percent Chinese believe that money represents success.
����Soft-spoken Lee has been creating a cultish following through his theory of “interest decides success” while vigorous Ma Yun stuns listeners with his “never give up” ambition. These all meet young people’s hunger for success.
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����Demand for economic development and job pressure have pushed IT elites and business tycoons to center stage, according to Wu Qing, sociology professor in China Youth University for Political Sciences. “It is hard to judge whether it’s a move forward or backward. It reflects a trend of the times,” he said.
����Therefore, most of these A-listers share similar life paths: overseas returnees striving to be successful back home. Thus their advice converges.
����Barometer of influence
����Celebrities who use self-help books and speeches to inspire youth are nothing new in the West. But young people can usually choose from a great variety of people.
����According to Tu Pan, manager in the US Education Center of EIC (the Education International Cooperation Group), US universities’ commencement speakers’ list is usually a barometer of who’s influential among young people.
����For instance, the speakers for Harvard University in the past several years were: actor John Lithgow, who wrote for children, newsman Jim Lehrer, known for his role as a frequent debate moderator during elections, and physicist Steven Chu, who then became US Secretary of Energy.

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