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Jack Ma

Seven more lessons for a successful career (and life) from Jack Ma

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 July, 2017, 8:55pm
UPDATED : Friday, 14 July, 2017, 8:55pm

Jack Ma shared more of the thinking that has made him the richest man in Asia, as he delivered speeches on successive days at Alibaba’s She-Era 2017 and Global Netrepreneurs conferences in Hangzhou in July.

Here are seven takeaways for a happy life and career. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.

Eight lessons for a successful career (and life) from Jack Ma at Alibaba’s Gateway ‘17

1. There will always be haters

There will always be those who don’t believe in you, Ma said - and the people who do won’t necessarily speak out.

“People who do believe in you won’t say anything to support you, but those who don’t will always jump out to say so,” he said. “That’s human nature.”

Elaborating, Ma added: “When you’re right, no one will support you. When you’re wrong, everyone will criticise you.”

2. From up high, things look clearer

Ma compared running a successful business to climbing a mountain, and said he started from the mountain’s foot just like everyone else.

“When you’ve climbed up thousands of kilometres, what you see from your vantage point is very different from what you could see at the base,” he said.

The problem with that? “The people at the base may not believe what you say you can see from above.

“In fact, the clearer you see things, the more afraid you feel - not for yourself, but for those in the industry, who are on the wrong track and need to make changes.”

3. Don’t be fixated on past successes

Here’s what’s holding you back - your past successes, Ma said. Today, there are great opportunities, but “if you are too fixated on the old ways of thinking, especially the successes of the past, you’ll suffer”.

He continued: “Yesterday’s successes often hinder progress.

“Successful people are the most difficult people to change.”

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4. Think globally - or you don’t stand a chance

A short and sharp message from a man, who preaches globalisation: embrace it, or else.

Ma said: “Right now, if your company doesn’t think globally, you don’t stand a chance. It’s impossible to ignore globalisation today.”

5. Don’t put everything into your business

According to Ma, a big business doesn’t equal a good business. “The bigger one is, the more tiring it becomes,” he elaborated.

“Many small entrepreneurs put everything they have into their businesses, and when their happiness is determined by how well they do, the pressure they face is immense.”

Try this instead, he said - make your employees happy, your customers happy, and be happy yourself. Those are the businesses that are sustainable and can live long, Ma said.

“Hold on to your dreams, this is a good company.”

6. Love your business - because no one else will

Setting up a new business is very difficult, Ma said - it’s like a newborn baby.

“Other than you, no one else thinks she is beautiful,” he explained.

“But she’ll become more beautiful as she grows, and with time and effort, it’ll become great.”

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7. Some business opportunities can’t be counted on

Do you entertain at night for business? Ma has a few harsh words: “Business opportunities obtained through one or two glasses of wine cannot be relied on.”

His own experience is vastly different. “Believe it or not, since I set up my business in 1999, I’ve never entertained – I go out only because my friends are going and I’m happy, not because I’m chasing an order.”