I remember nine years ago, when I started AliPay. People said, “Jack, don’t touch the financing sector “’cause it’s illegal, you maybe imprisoned.”
I call myself like a blind man riding on the back of the blind tigers. Those experts riding horses, they all fell, we survive.
We have a lot of heroes but China movies’ heroes always dead. The American movie hero never die. If all the heroes die, who want to be the hero?
Evan: He’s a Chinese business magnate, who’s the founder of Alibaba.
He’s the first mainland Chinese entrepreneur to appear on the cover of Forbes.
After graduation, he applied for 30 different jobs, got rejected by all of them and also got rejected by Harvard University 10 times.
He’s Jack Ma, and here’s my take on his top 10 rules to success volume two.
And as always guys, if you hear a message that Jack has, that it really resonates with you; please leave it in the comments below. Put quotes around it so other people can be inspired as well. Enjoy.
Rule #1: Just Go For It
Narrator: Ma made it into college on his third try and became an English teacher with no computing or engineering background, he’s unlikely tech titan but her said he was captivated by internet from the moment he first saw it in 1995 when he came to the US as a translator.
I never touch keyboard before, I never use a computer before and I say “What is Internet?” He say, “Jack, you know, search whatever you want on the internet”. I say, “How can I search? What does search mean?” He said, “Just type.” I say, “I don’t want to type.
Computers so expensive in China, I don’t want to destroy it.” He said, “It’s not a bomb. Just Type.” So, I typed the first word called “beer.” At that time, very slow, come on the American Beer, Japan beer, the German beer but not China beers. So I was curious. And I type, “China.” No China. No data.
Came back to Hangzhou with $1 in my pocket, scared, worried. And I came back and I said, “I want to do something called Internet.”
Rule #2: Solve Big Problems
We are not a company that normally China call. We call ourselves a company running a platform. A company that is running an ecosystem. We are almost everywhere.
People say, “Jack, you know you’re in the B2B, B2C, “and you’re calling C2B on a finance and online payment, “logistic, cloud computing, you are everywhere.” Not because we are greedy. Not because we wanted to win. Because we have to do it.
“As long as it has solved the problem, “I like stupid things, you know.” Let’s make stupid things smart. Keep on improving everyday.” – Jack Ma
If we cannot, if we do not do it, China e-commerce in the years will collapse. I remember nine years ago, when I started Alipay. People say, “Jack, don’t touch the financing sector “’cause it’s illegal, you may imprisoned.” And I, we thought to ourselves, if we don’t do it, the China e-commerce will always like a check room.
Everybody say it’s a good thing. “I don’t pay, you don’t get the things.” So I say, “Well, put me in the prison. “Let’s make sure that Alipay, “the payment solution works.” And the people said the payment solution is such a stupid idea.
It’s an escort service. I pay you all the money and you get the things. You pay the money. If you don’t get the things you want, return the money. They said the stupid product and I say, “As long as it has solved the problem, “I like stupid things, you know.” Let’s make stupid things smart. Keep on improving everyday.
Rule #3: Change Yourself
When I start the business, it’s so difficult to me, a small business owner in China. It took me five months to earn $500. That’s stupid. No chance.
“We believe the future. We change ourselves, we never complete us.” – Jack Ma
I have no any idea about how to run a business. And when I go to register company called internet, the registering officer said, “No, there’s no such “a word Internet in dictionary. “How can you register an internet?” So he say, “You have to register another name.” I said, “What’s the name?” He said, “Computer consulting firm.”
And I have no idea what is computer. So my first company is Hangzhou Hope Computer Consulting Firm. It was tough without knowing anything about technology, without knowing anything about a computer. The past 15 years, we’re working.
I call myself like a blind man riding on the back of blind tigers. (audience laughing) Those experts riding horses, they all fell. We survive because we worry about the future. We believe the future. We change ourselves, we never complete us.
Rule #4: Inspire
Every five years, we have a review for our strategy. Our strategy is always to look at the 30 years and 10 years. Every strategic decisions we make, we have to ask one question. This decision we make solve society problem? Because we believe the bigger social problem you solve, the more successful you are.
So if we do, if this cannot solve any social problems, we dont’ do it. Second, is this project going to be successful in 10 years? If it’s going to be successful in 10 years, let’s do it. If it’s going to be successful in one year or one month, now would I say, “Forget about it.” Because why you can be successful in one year or one month? So we all have to prepare.
“The bigger social problem you solve, the more successful you are.” – Jack Ma
And five years ago, we had a big debate about 10 years later, 20 years, what are the things does China society, that want to live, want? So we say, happiness and health. Two H strategy to happiness and health.
We believe, in the movie industry bring people happiness. Today, nobody’s happy. Rich people not happy, poor people not happy. At least when I watch movie, I feel happy about it, right? So I think we should partner with the Hollywood, especially like a lot of, we have a different way of living.
In China, the movie. We have a lot of heroes. But China movies’ heroes always dead. And American movie hero never die. If all the heroes die, who want to be the hero? So my movie, I want to make the hero live.
This is, I think, we should learn a lot; and it’s only about two years. So we have another eight years to go. I want to make our company, it’s not e-commerce. It’s something that giving people inspiration.
Giving people ’cause I learned a lot. For example, I will see that my favorite movie, Forrest Gump. Life’s tough. This is I learned and that inspired me. That is why when people call me crazy, stupid, the past 17 years, “You are crazy. “I told you something that won’t work. “You’re stupid, how can you do that model? “Amazon this model, eBay this model, “Why Alibaba this model?”
I told myself Forrest Gump said, “Go ahead. “Never care about what the other people.” And the other thing Forrest Gump said, “Nobody make money out of catching whales. “People make money by catching shrimps.” So, we serve small business.
Interviewer: Fair enough.
Rule #5: Build Trust With Your Customer
When we started the e-commerce nobody believed that china would have e-commerce because people believed in ‘guang-shi,’ face-to-face, and all kind of networks in traditional way. There’s no trust system in China.
“You are giving products to the person you have never met. And there are some guys you never that he’s going to take your products to that place, to that person. I want to tell the people that the trust is there.” – Jack Ma
Narrator: He had to overcome centuries of tradition by showing Chinese buyers and sellers that they could trust Alibaba with their money in this new virtual world. He did it by guaranteeing the transactions and creating his own payment system, an escrow account where Alibaba holds the buyers’ money until goods are delivered.
Every day we finish more than 30 million transactions. And that means that there, you are buying things from somebody you have never seen. You are giving products to the person you have never met. And there are some guys you never that he’s going to take your products to that place, to that person. I want to tell the people that the trust is there.
Interviewer: Because It’s all about trust
It’s all about the trust
Rule #5: Work Smart
Interviewer: Who works harder, the people at eBay or the people at Alibaba?
It’s sometimes you have not only have to work hard, you have to work smart.
Interviewer: So would you say you work smarter than eBay? You’d have to say yes, right? Well, so far.
Yeah, so far. So far.
‘Cause I think, you know, we are pretty lucky people and the people see you, “Yeah, you work very hard.” True, in this world, so many people work very hard but they’re not. I told my team, when we IPO, I asked a lot of people sitting there, I say, “You know, all of you guys, most of you got “millionaires and so rich; but 15 years ago, who are we?”
It’s so difficult for us to hire people 15 years ago. People who are not that bad. People can walk, still walk on the street, we hire them. Because no one believed Internet. No one believed Internet. And they joined the company. Those people who believed they were smart, they were headhunted by the other company. They set up their own company.
“It’s sometimes you have not only have to work hard, you have to work smart.” – Jack Ma
Those people, nobody go to headhunting them. They stay until they became successful. They are the key reasons we exist, we persist, we never give up. We believe the dreams together.
Rule #7: #Believe In Your Philosophy
Interviewer: One of the things that’s so fascinating to me, is that Amazon and Jeff Besos have pursued what might be described as a very asset heavy business model. They’re buying airplanes. They want to own the entire supply chain from beginning to end. And Alibaba has effectively an asset-like business. It is very much in terms of the retail piece of this, the opposite. You don’t want to own the warehouses. You don’t want to own the logistics companies. How do you think about that? Is Jeff Besos right? Or are you right? And is there going to be a meeting in the middle?
I hope both are right. And because the world can never have a one model. If the world has only one correct model, the world’s too boring. We need to have our own kinds of models and the people who do the model, should believe in the model.
“Our philosophy is that we think using Internet technology, we can make every company become Amazon.” – Jack Ma
And I believe in what I do. The difference between Amazon and us, Amazon is more like an empire. Everything they should control themselves, buy and sell. And our philosophy is that we want to be an ecosystem.
Our philosophy is to empower others to sell, empower others to service, making sure the other people are more powerful than us. Making sure with our technology, our innovation; our partners, our 10 million small business sellers, they can compete with Microsoft IBM. Our philosophy is that we think using Internet technology, we can make every company become Amazon.
Rule #8: Think Carefull
I learned my English by myself when I was 12 years old. For whatever reason, I don’t know. I just fell in love with the language. Every morning, from five o’clock, I rode a bicycle, about 40 minutes to the Hangzhou Hotel, looking for foreign tourists to teach me English.
“Everything I learned, I’ve got to habit” – Jack Ma
I toured, showed them around the city, they taught me English. My English is not perfect but the things I learned so interesting because the things the Americans, the foreign tourists there in China, they told me are so different from the things I learned from my parents and my teachers. I was in the cultural revolution.
Everything I thought so different. Since then, everything I learned, I’ve got to habit. You have to think yourself break to think about it. Just one more minute. When everything points to yes, wait for one minute. Whenever it’s a no, wait for one minute. Think about it carefully. ‘Cause if you look at the world in a different way, you might win a different way.
Rule #9: Focus On The Efficiency
In the future, you will not make money by the service you offer, how good service you do. It’s going to be how efficient you are. Alibaba, we are company, right now, have 20. That’s not including the financial group.
We have 25 units, We have 25 units, 25 different business units. Maybe in the future, we might have 50. I don’t know. We have that many units and we are almost everywhere. We control our head counts by efficiency we have. We only have our 224,000 people. We only have our 224,000 people. I tell you a story.
“In the future, you will not make money by the service you offer, how good service you do. It’s going to be how efficient you are.” – Jack Ma
The thing I feel proud of, that two years ago, we start to have a budgeting meeting and I ask my team, “By year 2012, if we really want to double all the numbers “we have, how many people we need?” And people say 7,800 new people. I said, “No, no, no, check it again.” And then they said, “600,800 people.” I said, “No.” And they, my people ask me, “How many you want?” I said, “200.” They said, “No, impossible, 200.” My answer is for years we discussed we should hire more people for future.
I’ve heard this for 10 years. Now, let’s just do the efficient thing. And I told all the management, if we have net income-net headcount of over 200, even one people, we should have no bonus for whole year, for year 2012. And then we started the plan. Year 2012, we let loose 1,000 people. All the number doubled.
And I say, if we want to create more jobs for the others, let’s keep our head counts. Make sure because right now, we have over 500 million registered users on top of. No matter how many people we hire ourselves, we cannot be, always not enough people.
So we can focus on technology, focusing on making sure the platform is efficient, focusing on everybody make the difference in the platform. That would make the difference.
Rule #10: Enjoy your life
People say this is uncertain, uncertain world. Everyday is uncertain. The only certain day was yesterday. I’m not sure about that in the future, I can, I will dictate, I will be stupid. That’s why I should retire early when I’m young.
“I come into this world not to work. I want to come to this world to enjoy my life. I don’t want to die in my office.” – Jack Ma
That is why I’ve a lot of things that I dream I want to do. I want to do philanthropy, I want to be a teacher, I want to go back to school, I want to do the environment.
The world is so wonderful, why should you be the CEO of Alibaba all the time? I come into this world not to work. I want to come to this world to enjoy my life. I don’t want to die in my office. I want to die on the beaches. (audience laughing)
It’s a wonderful message.
Evan: Thank you guys so much for watching. I made this video because Royal Driver asked me to do a volume 2 on Jack Ma.
So if there’s another entrepreneur you’d like us to a volume 2 on, leave it in the comments. I’ll see what I can do.
I’m also curious to know what was the rule that you learned the most from today from Jack. What message did he have that really resonated with you, that you’re going to immediately apply to your life, to your business somehow? Leave it in the comments. I’m super curious to find out.
I also want to give a quick shout out to Noah Sachs. Noah, thank you so much for picking up a copy of my book, Your One Word, taking that picture, posting it up on Twitter. You have five books down and 45 to go, so good luck on that streak. Bill Gates reads 50 books a year as well so you’re in good company. Thanks for the love man.
So thank you guys all again for watching. I believe in you. I hope you continue to believe in yourself and whatever your one word is. Much love, I’ll see you soon.