Lessons On Business and Life by Jack Ma 

Lessons On Business and Life by Jack Ma 

“A real businessman or entrepreneur has no enemies. Once he understands this, the sky’s the limit.”

When someone starts a company with $20,000 and ends up having a net worth of $28 billion, he or she must have done many things right.  That someone happens to be Jack Ma, undisputedly China’s most famous entrepreneur whose speeches and nuggets of wisdom regularly feature on viral rounds.

He came across the computer and rebooted his life at age 31, a time that tempts people to stay fixated on their career paths in a bid to hurry on the promotion.

As the founder and CEO of Alibaba, he has got important life and business lessons to share.  Learn these and you can’t possibly go wrong.

1. Get to Know Rejection


Every successful person worth his or her salt has a good relationship with rejection- the sort where you don’t like it, but you’re not afraid of it.

Rejected by Harvard for 10 times, being the only applicant who got rejected by KFC, and being the only one who didn’t get selected for the police academy.

Sounds like a loser alright, but only for as long as you stay defeated.

“Today is cruel. Tomorrow is crueler. And the day after tomorrow is beautiful,”  says Jack Ma.

Rejection is cruel, but have faith that there will be a “day after tomorrow.”

If you’re one who doesn’t handle rejection very well, this TED talk is both funny and wonderfully informative.

2. Hire Better, Hire Apt.


 Every entrepreneur who has had to hire somebody will understand how difficult it is to select the right employee.  There is the assumption that one needs to hire the most talented, but Jack Ma reminds us that “best fit” doesn’t always mean the brightest bulb in the room.  

“Hire the person best suited to the job, not the most talented. This can be a very painful lesson. There’s no point putting in a Boeing jet engine when you need to run a tractor.” 

At the same time, he is known for hiring people who have skills that are superior to his.

“Your employee should have superior technical skills than you. If he doesn’t, it means you have hired the wrong person.”

Put these together and what you have is the fine balance between making sure that your employees are better than you in the aspects that matter for the job, while not necessarily splashing out on the fattest carrots to lure the most talented people.

3. There Are No Enemies, Only Challenging Friends.


This can be applied to both business and life.  It’s hard to imagine that a successful businessman who pits himself against the biggest players of the industry is one who thinks that he has no “enemies”.  However, that seems to be one of Jack Ma’s business philosophies, which sound right out of a zen manual.

Aggressive head-on competition isn’t his cup of tea. Instead, he applies the philosophy of his Tai Chi practice to business.

“When I compete with eBay, people say I hate eBay.  No, I don’t hate eBay.  It’s a great company.  Tai Chi is like ‘you fight there and I’ll go over here.  You’re at the top, and I’ll go down’.  It’s a balance.  You are heavy and I’m small.  When I’m small, I can jump.  You’re heavy.  You cannot jump.”

Whether you’re an entrepreneur or not, you’re likely to meet your fair share of “challenging friends”.

Stay calm, and ‘tai-chi’ on.

4. Good Opportunities Are Often Not Obvious


According to Ma, if your idea-hatching process includes going for a round of unanimous approvals, keep this in mind. If nearly everyone approves of an idea, it’s worth a chuck in the bin.


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.” 

What this also mean is that the greatest opportunities come with doubt, opposition, and skepticism, and these are the ones that you need to truly grit your teeth and go ahead with.

5. Don’t Complain, But Look Out for Complaints.


Like many successful entrepreneurs, Jack Ma believes in not in complaining, but in looking for complaints that are actually golden opportunities in disguise.

You don’t have to own a company to take this nugget of advice.  At work or in life, look for pain points and turn them into problem-solving opportunities.

Not only will you cut back on the negative energy that comes from whining, you’ll end up creating something positive for yourself and the people around you.

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