Billionaire entrepreneur Jack Ma is known as the second richest man in China. He is the man who built online e-commerce giant Alibaba, which Entrepreneur describes as “one of the most successful, record-breaking companies to date.”
Ma is also known as the man who received 10 rejection slips from Harvard University! He is walking proof that failure (a lot of them!) isn't the end of the world.
The man, who is worth $38.3 billion, according to Forbes magazine, was in the country recently to receive an honorary doctorate in technopreneurship from De La Salle University. Now 53 years old, this dreamer and doer imparted what he has learned in life and business.
If you dream of your child to become extremely successful in whatever he chooses to do in the future, here are three takeaways from Jack Ma.
1. A "bad student" does not automatically mean he will have a failed future. Ma has always preached that intelligence is not the only marker for success, and he should know. He was “considered to be a bad student.”
“I failed a key primary school test two times, I failed the middle school test three times, I failed the college entrance exam two times,” he told Entrepreneur. He got rejected from Harvard University 10 times!
His secret? “If you want to be successful, you have to have great EQ (emotional quotient). No matter how smart you are, if you never know how to work with people, you will never succeed,” said Ma.
2. Just because your child performs poorly in school doesn't mean he doesn't want to learn. Ma wanted to learn English, so he taught himself at 12 years old. “Every morning for eight years, he would ride his bike 40 minutes to a hotel in Hangzhou, where he would volunteer as a tourist guide for visitors just to practice the language,” said Entrepreneur.
“The priority of whether you want to study or work is the same: learning. When you do the business, you learn from the business. When you’re in school, you have to put the other knowledge into practice.”
3. We've said it before, and Jack Ma agrees: Grit may be the biggest factor behind success. What is grit? Psychologist and researcher Angela Lee Duckworth is a pioneer in the study of grit explained, “Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it's a marathon, not a sprint.”
Ma understands grit extremely well. Before Alibaba, a venture with a capital of $2,000 had failed. And when Alibaba began it had barely broken even; in 2002, it only made $1 in profits.
“A young person who wants to do a lot of things is better than a young person who doesn’t have anything he wants to do.”
He shared with the DLSU students, “If you think it’s about three years you need to be successful, prepare for about 10 years. If you think you have about five years to succeed, prepare for 15 years. And if you think you need 10 years, you might succeed in eight years. You should have a long preparation, determination.”
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The fictional character Ma likes the most is Forrest Gump from the movie of the same title. He always liked how Gump struggled and worked hard. Ma told CNBC in an interview, “I've been watching that movie about 10 times. Every time when I'm frustrated I watch the movie.”
If you want to raise a future Jack Ma, stop believing that failure is a permanent condition. Instead, show your child that every rejection is an opportunity to do better and begin again.