Jack Ma is the lead founder of the Alibaba Group, one of the world’s largest e-commerce businesses. He has been declared one of the world’s richest men with a net worth of US $42.7 billion and has been listed by Forbes several times as being one of the world’s most influential people.
Ma’s story is one that is truly inspirational and a testament to that fact that failure is the best teacher one can have in this lifetime. In his formative years, Ma was both inquisitive and observant. As a result, he was branded for his unique and often ’dangerous’ ideas. He was no stranger to disappointment and was once rejected from 30 different job interviews. In addition to this, he applied to Harvard Business School ten times and was rejected every single time. However, none of these setbacks stopped Ma from discovering and honing the potential he truly possessed.
As an adolescent, he taught himself English and became so fluent in it that he started doing unofficial tour guides for tourists around the city. Through these interactions, he learnt much about the world outside of China. Soon after graduation, he began teaching English at the local university and eventually started a translation business. It was upon his first trip to the United States in 1995 as a translator that he became aware of the internet. Ma was immediately convinced of the potential this avenue held for millions of small businesses in China. Soon after, in 1995, Ali Baba was formed, a company allowing exporters in China to post listings for products for direct purchase by customers around the world.
Today, the company enjoys 550 million active monthly users across its various platforms. Its market cap is worth more than $486 billion, making it one of the 10 largest companies in the world. In a recent announcement, Ma declared that the company aimed to create 100 million jobs and help support 10 million businesses on its platform by 2036.
A philanthropist at heart, Ma’s philosophy in business is one that most people can learn a lot from. “I use Thai Chi philosophy in business: Calm down, There’s always a way. Keep yourself balanced, and meanwhile, don’t try to kill your competitors.“Looking back, one can see that the Ma’s revolutionary foresight, exceptional leadership and unrelenting tenacity is what led him to where he is now.