CEO Series

5 Ways To Become Like Jack Ma (Even If You Aren't Asia's Richest)

Jack Ma is indisputably one of the most successful entrepreneurs of today.

He’s smart, he’s funny, and as of 2017, he’s worth S$46.6 billion as Asia’s richest and the 15th richest person globally.

On June 8, his net worth surged S$3.88 billion overnight, a growth that exceeded all expectations of a 10% revenue growth, when Alibaba Group Holding forecasted a 45% – 49% growth by March 2018.

But while not everyone can be as obscenely rich, there are simple rules you can implement to being just that much closer to him.

1. Hire Your Future Boss

“The thing I learnt from being a teacher – you always wants your students to be more successful and better than you are,” Ma said.

“Look at the young man, if you think he’ll be your boss in 5 years, hire him.”

Meanwhile, if “your employee [doesn’t] have superior technical skills than you […] it means you have hired the wrong person.

Jack Ma is famous for having failed multiple times, and at things others succeeded easily at. Yet, he was able to build one of China’s, and the world’s, most successful companies.

Image Credit: Australian Financial Review

But it’s not just him, many of China’s Internet successes achieved it despite not having being ‘Top 3’ students in school.

While you could take it to mean that your grades aren’t the be all to end all, it does mean that you can ‘outsource’ your brains – simply by hiring people superior to you.

2. Support Your Own Creation If You Want Others To

When Ma first launched Taobao, his team pooled 21 of their own things to sell.

“We waited for 3 days but nobody came to buy [so] the next week we started to buy and sell products ourselves. Another week later, someone started testing on Taobao.”

Ma Yun in the early days / Image credit: Wallstreet Journal

“For almost 30 days, everything people sold, we bought them [so] we have a whole house of rubbish we bought online,” he shared candidly.

The same went for when he launched chat app Laiwang, with very public announcements that he was shutting his WeChat account.

In a leaked Alibaba memo, Ma also stated that if his employees did not invite “100 non-Alibaba affiliated friends” within a month, they wouldn’t receive bonuses.

3. Be Paranoid To Stay Relevant

In April 2017, Ma said that “in the next 30 years, the world will see much more pain than happiness”.

And all because of new technologies like A.I.

“Social conflicts will have an impact on all sorts of industries and walks of life,” he said, as he iterated how these technologies and longer life expectancies will result in heightened job competition. Traditional industries also need to “stop complaining about the Internet’s effects on the economy.”

In line with this, it’s important to not “believe that you’re good all the time”.

4. Embrace These New Trends

Social influencers lie at the heart of Alibaba’s momentous growth.

When Ma first launched Laiwang, he publicly invited Chinese celebrities and Sina Weibo influencers to open accounts.

On Taobao, these influencers also turned their followers into customers. This grew their mobile buyers 25% to 493 million (October to December 2016), and revenue by 54% to S$10.6 billion.

Image Credit: Medium

“Alibaba views themselves not only as a marketing place, but a place where people spend time,” said an HSBC analyst.

In Singapore, or any other country for that matter, social media influencers might take a lot of flak (this infographic shows how often they flout the rules), but the issue still stands, influencers are here to stay – so no matter your personal vendetta against them, embrace them.

5. Be A Survivor

“As entrepreneurs, today is very difficult. Tomorrow is even more difficult. But the day after tomorrow is very beautiful. Most people die tomorrow evening.”

This statement was a simple one, albeit one that carries intense significance. Entrepreneurship is all about weathering the storms, and fighting to live another day.

If large achievements are too far away to attain, reach for the low hanging fruit first, and slowly climb your way up the tree.

But never give up.

Featured Image Credit:The Hollywood Reporter

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