Fifty years ago, a boy was born to a family of traditional musician-storytellers in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province of China. In 1972, when US President Richard Nixon visited China, this boy was merely eight years old. But little did anyone know that this visit will sow the seed in the mind of this eight-year-old to dream big.
The US President’s visit left the boy with a desire to learn English and he started to guide foreign tourists in his hometown in exchange for learning English from them. One of the tourists gave him the name ‘Jack’. The name stuck, and Jack went on to become a celebrity in China by creating the largest e-commerce company of the world. But more importantly, his success taught the ordinary people to dream of doing extraordinary things.
Jack Ma proved that in a Communist society, an entrepreneur can succeed. He’s inspiring, visionary and unique. Be it the mass wedding, which he organizes for his employees, or the transparency about his plans, Jack’s inimitable approach to things make him stand out. His humility to accept mistakes and learn from others is a big lesson to all aspiring entrepreneurs in the world.
Jack wants to write two books about his experiences of two decades in Internet and e-commerce, one ‘Alibaba 1001 Mistakes’ and the other ‘How to make your company smaller’. This speaks a lot about the modesty of the richest man of China whose personal wealth amounts to a whopping (approx) $24 B.
Jack’s interactions over the last few years to bring out the 33 pearls of wisdom which can teach you more about life and business than many books combined together:
"You need the right people with you, not the best people."
"No matter how tough the chase is, you should always have the dream you saw on the first day. It’ll keep you motivated and rescue you (from any weak thoughts)."
"We’re never in lack of money. We lack people with dreams, (people) who can die for those dreams."
"I call myself a blind man riding on a blind tiger."
"Never ever compete on prices, instead compete on services and innovation."
"Instead of learning from other people’s success, learn from their mistakes. Most of the people who fail share common reasons(to fail) whereas success can be attributed to various different kinds of reasons."
"Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine."
"Help young people. Help small guys. Because small guys will be big. Young people will have the seeds you bury in their minds, and when they grow up, they will change the world."
"I try to make myself happy because I know that if I’m not happy, my colleagues are not happy and my shareholders are not happy and my customers are not happy."
"If you’ve never tried, how will you ever know if there’s any chance?"
"If you don’t give up, you still have a chance. Giving up is the greatest failure."
"I don’t want people (in China) to have deep pockets but shallow minds."
"You never know how much can you do in your life."
"You never know that the things you’re doing are that meaningful to society."
"You’ve to make consumers smart. An e-commerce portal doesn’t sell a product at cheaper rates, instead an offline shop sells it at a costlier prices."
"You’ve got to make your team have value, innovation, and vision."
"When you are small, you have to be very focused and rely on your brain, not your strength."
"Today, making money is very simple. But making sustainable money while being responsible to the society and improving the world is very difficult."
"If we are a good team and know what we want to do, one of us can defeat ten of them."
"A leader should have higher grit and tenacity, and be able to endure what the employees can’t."
"A peace talk is always difficult, always complicated."
"You should learn from your competitor, but never copy. Copy and you die."
"It doesn’t matter if I failed. At least I passed the concept on to others. Even if I don’t succeed, someone will succeed."
"Intelligent people need a fool to lead them. When the team’s all a bunch of scientists, it is best to have a peasant lead the way. His way of thinking is different. It’s easier to win if you have people seeing things from different perspectives."
"If the customer loves you, the government will have to love you."
"Never ever do business with the government. Be in love with them, never marry them."
"When we have money, we start making mistakes."
"We should never finish a 20 year program in two year."
"It’s very difficult to know the outside world, but you know yourself. You know your need and what you want. If I know myself better, I can change myself to meet the outside world."
"We appreciate yesterday, but we’re looking for a better tomorrow."
"Without internet, there would have been no Jack Ma, and no Alibaba or Taobao."
"Life is so short, so beautiful. Don’t be so serious about work. Enjoy the lives."
"Opportunity lies in the place where the complaints are."