Jack Ma- His Story, Achievements, and Lessons for Today’s World

Jack Ma- His Story, Achievements, and Lessons for Today’s World
Jack Ma- His Story, Achievements, and Lessons for Today’s World

His birth name is Ma Yun, but his official name is Jack Ma. He is a Chinese technology and internet entrepreneur, philanthropist and business magnate. He is known especially for being the founder and CEO of Alibaba Group, which is a popular conglomerate of internet-based businesses.  He was born on the 10th of September 1964, and he is the richest man in China as at today. And of course, he is among the richest in the Asian world.  His net worth as at November 2017 is US$47.8 billion. Over the years, Jack Ma has become an icon in global entrepreneurship and business.  He is also among the most influential men in the world today. He is equally seen as a leading innovative visionary having a wise business philosophy.  The 2017 edition of Fortune listed him among “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.” In fact, he occupied the second slot on that list.

Today, Jack Ma is seen as a source of inspiration to many who see him as a role model. Over the years, he has been known to advise, enlighten and lecture several groups of people.

You may not believe it, but Jack Ma is also an actor. His first movie was titled Gong Shou Dao; it was a kung fu short film and showcased his love for martial arts. Revelation also came that martial arts had been part of his personal and professional lives all along.  He equally revitalized the ancient practice by being part of the forces that took it to the global stage. Famous martial arts stars, like Tony Jaa, Wu Jing, Jet Li, and Donnie Yen were all featured in this film.  The movie was also filmed in collaboration with Single Days, Double 11 Shopping Carnival.

He started practicing the Chinese martial arts since 2009 and learned about the arts from a very popular martial arts teacher and master, Wang Xian.  He equally employed the service of several martial arts teachers to teach at Alibaba.  Some of those he employed then were Jet Li and Wang. He mandated all his employees to attend the martial arts training be offered by these teachers at his company. He took this measure because he wants to be remembered, not just for being the owner of one of China’s largest online shopping website and internet company, but also as a Tai Chi master.

Maybe you can believe that Jack Ma is an actor, but can you stomach the fact that he is also a singer?! Yes, he took part in the singing festival the same year he produced the martial arts movie. His dancing prowess is also on record; he displayed his dancing skills during the 18th-anniversary party of his company, Alibaba Groups. Yes, Jack Ma has a very strong entertainment value.

His personal life

As hinted earlier, he was born in 1964, September 10th to be precise, in Hangzhou Zhejiang Province in China. He took a liking to the English language at a rather young age, and he started practicing how to speak the language from then on by conversing daily with those who were native speakers in his locality, especially at the Hangzhou international hotel, which is about 70 minutes bike ride from his home.  He would give the lodgers in the hotel a tour around the city free of charge just to learn the English language from them.  At a later stage, he became a pen pal with one of his numerous English teachers, who gave him the name. “Jack” because the latter could not pronounce Jack Ma’s Chinese name.

Jack Ma went to college, though he had to struggle through his studies; he could not pass his Chinese entrance exam until after taking it four times.  He went to the Hangzhou teacher’s Institute afterward and became a graduate of the institution in 1988 with a Bachelor of Arts honor in the English Language. He headed the student council when he was in college. He later became a lecturer of International Trade and English at the Hangzhou Dianzi University. At a later date, he registered at Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB) from where he graduated in 2006.

He got married after graduating from Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute, which was later changed to Hangzhou normal University. He met his wife in the school, and they got married shortly after his graduation.

After graduation, Jack Ma wrote applications to companies for employment up to 30 times. However, he got rejected by all of them. He was among the 24 applicants that applied for a job at KFC when it first came to his city. 23 out of them were given employment except for Jack Ma. Harvard also rejected him all through the ten times he applied for the school.

His attention was first drawn to the internet in 1994. He went to the United States in 1995 where his friends gave him his first introductory tutelage to the internet. After the initial introduction, he took his time to search for information about China online, but he could find none. Then, he and his friend decided to create a website that gives information about China. Few moments after creating the website, some people from China contacted him, wanting to know more about him.

At that point, he realized the hidden potentials on the internet.  Then he raised up to US$20,000 in 1995, along with his wife and a friend; they used the money to start their first company, which was dedicated to the creation of websites for companies. The name of the company was China Yellow pages.  His company made up to 5,000,000 Yuan after just three years of establishing it; this was equivalent to US$800,000.

Jack Ma employed the help of his friends to start building websites for Chinese companies. He could not acquire his own computer until he was 33 years old. Furthermore, he was at the head of the China International Electronic Commerce Center from 1998 to 1999. He quitted his job in 1999 and went back to Hangzhou to find Alibaba along with his team. Alibaba is now a China-based business-to-business online marketplace. He started the company with 18 of his friends, and its first office was in his home. He had to spend up to 500,000 yuan to start this company.


Jack Ma was selected among the “Top 10 Business Leaders of the Year” in 2014 by the China Central Television and its viewers.

He was also nominated as a “Young Global Leader” by World Economic Forum in September 2005. Furthermore, he was listed among the “25 Most Powerful Businesspersons in Asia” by Fortune Magazine. He was equally selected as a “Businessperson of the Year” by Businessweek in 2007.  He was also chosen in 2008 by the same organization among the 30 “World’s Best CEO’s.”

His accomplishments are numerous, and it may take an entire book to record them. He became a Doctor of Science in Technopreneurship, an honorary degree from the De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines. In the same year, he was ranked as the third in global tech innovation visionary survey in the KMG survey.

What can we learn from Jack Ma?

The life of Jack Ma is a lesson for all, and there is a lot we can take away from it. Continue reading to find out the specific lessons that his life can teach us all.

Do not limit your view

Jack Ma never limits his views. He is known to go beyond limitations to source for solutions where none seems to exist. According to him, individuals that fail are being myopic to opportunities. Maybe he is right. Maybe we only need to learn how to look deeper and search further to reduce the chances of failure.  Individuals need to start looking across the financial and professional landscape using a broad lens first before concluding impossibility. People should be ready to bend down and search every nook and cranny and lift every stone they can to find every hidden opportunity wherever it may be hidden.

See every opportunity as an open the door to greater things

The life of Jack Ma teaches that no opportunity should be seen as beneath you, menial or small. Whenever an opportunity shows up, do not see it as too small, but grab it with both hands and all your strength and also commit your heart to it. Make sure you put all your strength into it and do not treat anything that comes your way as small. If you keep to it, you can make something tangible out of it.

Seek to understand

Whenever you are in a new employment or career, you should try to understand as many things as possible about that employment. If you aspire to attain a particular position in your career, you should also try to learn as much as possible about that desired position. Find out why you want to attain that height and what you will be doing in that new assignment. Additionally, ask and find answers to what you have to do to get to that new height.

Act fast

Whenever an opportunity shows up, do not hesitate in taking advantage of it. The saying goes that “the race is not to the swift…” but there are times the race actually goes to the swift. Being swift does not necessarily mean running the fastest; it can mean bouncing back fast from failure. Summarily, do not hesitate when a new opportunity presents itself. If you hesitate, others may benefit from it before you, leaving you out in the cold.

Look beyond your prevailing circumstances

The training you feel you lack, your lost educational opportunities, where or how you grew up, or your current situation does not matter one bit; they cannot be strong enough to prevent your success in any of your chosen careers or endeavors. What matter are the hardiness, fortitude, and spirit that you put into that new endeavor?

Channel your ambitions properly

You should be single-minded in your ambition as a visionary. Never let go of your goal, work towards it and focus on it until you achieve it.

Put on courage

Potential backers for the Alibaba Groups gave him a cautionary feedback when he was about launching the company. However, he never let their discouraging stances get him down.  He remained resolute and bold, and the result is there for all to see today. He could remain resolute because he had a clear idea of what he wanted and nothing could bring him down. The lesson here is that you must not give in, no matter the circumstances. Never give up and never allow any fear or negative vibe to cut you short.

Take chances while you are young

Jack Ma stated that anyone who is not rich by 35 must have wasted his youthful days. When you are young, you should capitalize all your strengths, the power of imagination and energies to achieve your goals. This means you must give your ambitions all the pursuits it deserves until you achieve your

Get your team members unified

Everyone on your team must have the same goal and focus. This way, you can achieve your desires and expectations faster. Do not work as a single person; rather, be ready to work as a team member.  Expect at least 30% of your team members to disagree with your styles and ideas. Instead of shooing them off, it is better to work towards uniting them via a common mission, cause and idea.  Even if some still disagree, look for a way to harness the talents, gifts, and potential of each member of the team to achieve the set goals.

Make yourself replaceable

You should work towards reducing the dependency of members of your team on you. This is one factor that will help unify all members of the team.  Whenever you see an idea or skill in someone, you should cultivate and harness such ideas and values to the benefit of the team. Also, you should be ready to impact your ideas, values, and skills into someone that you trust so that another person can take over from you when you are not available, and the mission of the group will continue unabated to the benefit of all.


The descriptions from above show that we have a lot to learn from the life of Jack Ma. Yes, he got rejected by potential employers 30 straight times, but this never hindered or discouraged him. Today, he is among the top richest men in the world. Can you beat that?! It means whatever happens around you is not what can bring you down, but what happens within you!

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