Born: October 15, 1964, China | Successful For: Visionary (Alibaba) | Zodiac Sign: Libra
Inner Keys to Success:
- NO EXCUSES, NO LIMITS: PUT SUCCESS INTO YOUR OWNS HANDS AND MAKE IT HAPPEN: Ma gained a desire to understand English so would ride his bike for 45 minutes to the Shangri-La hotel every morning just to converse with tourists and would even take them sightseeing. He began at 13 and did this for 9 years, claiming he not only learned English but he also learned the Western ways and their methods and techniques. Although he dreamed of attending a prestigious university, he failed an entrance exam twice and would eventually settle for a lower teacher’s institute. Jack Ma’s pursuit was effective and he started out his career as an English teacher. Teaching would end shortly as he claims “I knew I couldn’t be the best in China, so I decided to step into the business world”. He applied for a lead role at a KFC but was rejected, which led to Ma beginning a translation company in which he traveled to Seattle in 95’ and found out about something that absolutely blew his mind, the internet. So amazed with the web, he would then go on to build China Yellow pages which would be known to be the first Chinese internet company. Both the translation company and the Yellow Pages ventures flopped. For many years we was looked at as a mad man for being so awe struck over the internet, but with his persistent vision others would join. In 99, Ma, his wife and 16 friends pooled 60,000 US and began the Alibaba Empire which now includes over 9 major subsidiaries and is worth well over 20 billion. Alibaba.com is the eBay of international trade and Jack Ma, the founder admits to knowing nothing about technology or coding. "Today is cruel. Tomorrow is crueler. And the day after tomorrow is beautiful."
- BE A LEADER, BE SIMPLE: THE KEY TO ALL THE LOCKED DOORS: "If there are 9 rabbits on the ground and you want to catch one, just focus on one." Known as a very down to earth leader, Jack Ma gives very engaging speeches combing humor with inspiration. His leading ways are a result of his past career of being a teacher and he claims that if he was born during war time he would have been a great general. At Alibaba’s annual shareholders meeting, Ma, encouraged everyone to take matters into their own hands and take action in the form of starting businesses to solve the economic issues rather than waiting for government or business to help them. He refreshed everyone that big fortunes of the world were attained by people who saw opportunities where others simply didn’t. He states that in Taoism, the best form of leadership is actually not leading at all and that his responsibility is to give his team guidance and principles and shape the culture of the company. His business is built on simplicity as Jack Ma strongly believes in the power of simple as opposed to complexity. He was inspired by Forrest Gump and was intrigued by his focus. “He’s not talented, but he is very, very hardworking, and he's very simple and opportunistic."
- DON’T BE AFRAID TO CHANGE THE GAME OR REINVENT THE WHEEL: In an interview with Charlie Rose, Ma touched on his business model stating that most American companies focused on shareholder being their first priority, whereas Alibaba’s number one priority is customers. “Customers first, employees second, and shareholders third." A smart approach by Jack Ma that was certainly against the ‘usual’ ways of doing business. The stock option for Alibaba had the most restrictions and yet it was the biggest IPO in history! He stands tall in his own business ideologies saying "Alibaba is not just a job. It's a dream. It's a cause. Let the Wall Street investors curse us if they want." Prior to his tech invention, he claims to have never touched a keyboard, and didn't know anything about computers or e-mail. Unlike most online billionaires, he still admits to knowing nothing about technology and he only uses his computer for e-mail and to surf the web. He’s never afraid to do things differently and his success is a result of his unorthodox ways. Jack Ma has even thrown on hits from The Lion King to staff at company events, dressed himself in full rock star gear with a white wig and a leather jacket. He has dressed up as the Terminator, with Arnold Schwarzenegger on his arm. “Once in your life, try something. Try to change. Nothing bad can happen.” Jack Ma understands that passion and joy are a must for a winning formula, and changing the rules is a must. “Remember that your past successes may lead you to your future failure. However, if you learn a lesson from every failure, then you may ultimately succeed.”
"If you want to grow, find a good opportunity. Today, if you want to be a great company, think about what social problem you could solve."
– Jack Ma
Jack Ma is the first Chinese citizen to make the cover of Forbes magazine where he was described as the 1.62m-tall "Napoleon-like person". Surprisingly in his youth, he had wished that he was born during wartime saying "I could have been a general". Jack Ma and his adventures with Alibaba have also been the filming subject of Crocodile In The Yangtze, which was written, directed and produced by an American who spent eight years at the company. He also found a Taaji school with actor and martial artist Jet Li in 2013. Today Mr. Ma has shaken his home nation and runs many huge sectors of businesses particularly in the entertainment field. But it all happened because a simple honest man with a fun approach trusted his gut feelings. “I like to play cards. I’m not very good, because I don’t want to calculate, I just play by instinct. But I’ve learned a lot of business philosophy by playing poker.”
"The very important thing you should have is patience."
- Jack Ma
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