Billionaire Jack Ma is the founder of Alibaba Group, as well as one of the most successful Chinese Internet entrepreneurs.
He is also the first mainland Chinese entrepreneur to appear on the cover of Forbes Magazine, and is often called the “godfather of China’s scrappy entrepreneurial spirit”.
Here are some of Jack Ma’s life and business lessons that each of us can learn from:
1. On the mistake he regrets the most
In 2001, I made a mistake.
I told 18 of my fellow comrades who embarked on the entrepreneurship journey with me, that the highest positions they could go was a managerial role.
To fill all our Vice President and Senior Executive positions, we would have to hire from external parties.
Years later, those I had hired were gone, but those whom I doubted became Vice Presidents or Directors.
Your attitude is more important than your capabilities.
Similarly, your decision is more important than your capabilities!
2. You cannot unify everyone’s thoughts, but you can unify them with a common goal.
Don’t even trust that you are able to unify what everyone is thinking; it is impossible.
30% of all people will never believe you. Do not allow your colleagues and employees to work for you. Instead, let them work for a common goal.
It is a lot easier to unite the company under a common goal rather than uniting the company around a particular person.
3. What does a leader have that an employee doesn’t?
A leader should never compare his technical skills with his employees’.
Your employee should have superior technical skills than you. If he doesn’t, it means you have hired the wrong person.
Leader stands out for 3 things:
- A leader should be a visionary with more foresight than an employee.
- A leader should have higher grit and tenacity, and be able to endure what employees can’t.
- The leader should have higher endurance and ability to accept and embrace failure.
4. Don’t be involved in politics
One should always understand that money and political power can never go hand in hand.
Once you are in politics, don’t ever think about money anymore. Once you are running a business, don’t ever think of being involved in politics. When money meets political power, it is similar to a match meeting an explosive – waiting to go off.
5. The 4 main questions the young generation must ponder on
What is failure? Giving up is the greatest failure.
What is resilience? Once you have been through hardships, grievances and disappointments, only then will you understand what is resilience.
What your duties are? To be more diligent, hardworking, and ambitious than others.
Do fools only use their mouth to speak? A smart man uses his brain, and a wise man uses his heart.
6. We are born to live and experience life
I always tell myself that we are born here not to work, but to enjoy life. We are here to make things better for one another, and not to work. If you are spending your whole life working, you will certainly regret it.
No matter how successful you are in your career, you must always remember that we are here to live. If you keep yourself busy working, you will surely regret it.
7. On competing and competition Jack Ma states the following
- Those that compete aggressively with one another are the foolish ones.
- If you view everyone as your enemies, everyone around you will be your enemy.
- When you are competing with one another, don’t bring hatred along. Hatred will take you down.
- Competition is similar to playing a board of chess. If you lose, we can always have another round. Both players should never fight.
- A real businessman or entrepreneur has no enemies. Once he understand this, the sky’s the limit.
8. Don’t make complaining and whining a habit
If you complain or whine once in a while, it is not a big deal.
However, if it becomes habitual, it will be similar to drinking: the more you drink, the stronger the thirst. On the path to success, you will notice that the successful ones are not whiners, nor do they complain often.
The world will not remember what you say, but it will certainly not forget what you have done.
9. Advice to entrepreneurs
- The opportunities that everyone cannot see are the real opportunities.
- Always let your employees come to work with a smile.
- Customers should be number 1, Employees number 2, and then only your Shareholders come at number 3.
- Adopt and change before any major trends or changes.
- Forget the money; Forget about earning money.
- Rather than having small smart tricks to get by, focus on holding on and persevering.
- Your attitude determines your altitude.
10. Advice on entrepreneurship
- A great opportunity is often hard to be explained clearly; things that can be explained clearly are often not the best opportunities.
- You should find someone who has complementary skills to start a company with. You shouldn’t necessarily look for someone successful. Find the right people, not the best people.
- The most unreliable thing in this world is human relationships.
- “Free” is the most expensive word.
- Today is cruel, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be beautiful.
11. The 4 don’ts of entrepreneurship
- The scariest things about starting up is the inability to see, to be snobbish, to be unable to understand what is going on, as well as to be unable to keep up with pace.
- If you do not know where your competitor is, or overconfident and snobbish about your competitor, or are unable to comprehend how your competitor became a real threat, you will surely fall behind him. Don’t be the “they” in this idiom: First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
- Even if your competitor is still small in size or weak, you should take him seriously and treat him as a giant. Likewise, even if your competitor is massive in size, you shouldn’t regard yourself as a weakling.
12. On starting your own company
What starting your company means: you will lose your stable income, your right to apply for a leave of absence, and your right to get a bonus.
However, it also means your income will no longer be limited, you will use your time more effectively, and you will no longer need to beg for favours from people anymore.
If you have a different mindset, you will have a different outcome.
If you make different choices from your peers, your life will then be different from your peers.
14. Jack Ma on opportunities
If there are over 90% of the crowd saying “Yes” to approving a proposal, I will surely dispose the proposal into the bin.
The reason is simple if there are so many people who think that the proposal is good, surely there will be many people who would have been working on it, and the opportunity no longer belongs to us.