Jack Ma (#JackMaXDLSU): Find a good boss, not a good company

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Screenshot of Rappler’s live stream of Jack Ma’s speech and Q&A at De La Salle University on October 25, 2017

JACK MA, founder of global giant Alibaba, is in Manila to engage with students and entrepreneurs.

 De La Salle University Manila invited him to visit and conferred with him an honorary degree on “technopreneurship” on October 25, 2017.

Watch a replay of the entire event here: https://www.rappler.com/business/186285-jack-ma-manila-visit-october-25-2017

Here are my running notes:

  • In the last centuries, if you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to have money, relationships (Guanxi). Today or in the future, we have to solve the problems by the dreams we believe in and the technology that we have. 80% of the business will be online.
  • Technology means a lot to Asia esp. in this century. We are entering the 3rd revolution (after Europe, America). We are (moving) from IT to DT, from information technology to data technology.
  • Every technology revolution happen every 50 years. The first 20 years are about the technology companies. The next 30 years are about the companies that use that technology to develop themselves. It’s not the internet companies that will win in the next 30 years, it’s the companies that will full use of the internet.
  • Last century, people focused on manufacturing industry. This century, focus is on service industry because manufacturing may not be the main driver for creating jobs. The AI (artificial intelligence), the robots will kill a lot of manufacturing jobs. Service industries will always be the key, and Filipino people have the best of heart in service. It takes centuries to build a heart for service, and no other country in the world what Filipinos have.
  • Lots of people who worry about technology because they are good at IT, yesterday’s technology. The new technology is a challenge to everybody.
  • Technology is the solution for inclusive and sustainable growth.
  • Trade will change. Lots of trade will not be done on the trade shows. They will be online. Soon, no more “Made in America” or “Made in China” or “Made in the Philippines.” It will be “Made on the Internet.” The supply chain will be changed.
  • The future business model is no longer B2C. It will be C2B, consumer to business. Everything will be tailor made. 80% of all businesses — and the businesses in your business — will be online.
  • I arrived late last night and I tried to test the speed of the Internet, it’s no good. (Audience laughs.) I encourage government, entrepreneurs and everybody to improve the speed of the internet. Otherwise, it will be worse than when, a hundred years ago, our cities were not connected to electricity. We have to make sure everybody is connected. When you’re connected, you can be mobile. When you are mobile, you are everywhere.
  • If you want to be successful, have a high EQ, which means you know how to work with people. I was the chairman of the students’ union of my university and of my city. I spent 70% of my time serving in the union, supporting young people. That gave me lots of experience in dealing with and helping people. When I started my company, I didn’t have to train a single day to do business, but knew how to deal with other people. It’s not only knowledge that students should learn. You should learn how to work with people, serve people, how to team up with others.
  • If you want to be successful, you should have great EQ, because that’s about knowing how to work with people. No matter how smart you are if you don’t know how to work with people, you will not be successful, you’ll just have a dream. IQ will make you not make stupid mistakes. And if you want to be respected, you must have LQ, the love quotient. Most students pay attention only to IQ, but not to EQ. And if you don’t have the LQ, you’ll go nowhere.
  • ON A SHARED DREAM. We started Alibaba in 1999. We made a lot of mistakes, and I told my team if we will not succeed, somebody else will. If it’s a group dream, we could go further. It’s been 18 years since. Alibaba was the dream of 18 co-founders.
  • ON BEING UNIQUE. When most people like it, I don’t like it. When most people don’t like it, i will think about it. Make yourself unique. There are 7 billion people in the world. There’s only one you. Doing business is about being unique.
  • When you have a dream, you ask: What do you have, what do you want, what do you want to sacrifice, what will you give up, and for how long? When you have a dream, you have to ask what you want to pay to achieve that dream.
  • When you’re starting your business and people will help you, you’re very lucky. When people don’t help you, that’s very common. Don’t be discouraged when people don’t help you. Why should people help you? You should earn the right to be helped.
  • If you complain, you must have a solution. If you don’t have a solution, don’t complain.
  • Doing business is like going to a battlefield. The survivor wins. (It doesn’t) matter how great you are if you’re dead.
  • If you want to be successful, learn from the mistakes the other people make, not because you want to avoid these mistakes but because you want to know how how to face them when they come.
  • When I invest in the business, I don’t just look at the founder, but also those around him. It is easy to make one person crazy, but if the whole team is crazy, that’s interesting.
  • Old economy (brick and mortar) should not fear (e-commerce) but should change immediately. Changes are speeding up. It’ll be tough if you don’t change.
  • It’s not competitor that’s killing you, it’s the future that will kill you. Don’t be scared about technology.
  • Small biz must have big dreams (I have x customers now, how to have more?). Big companies must have small steps (every year, I reach this, that.)
  • I’m not a fan of traditional MBA. Sometimes, stupid. Not everything can be standard.
  • We make the most advanced payment system in the world. Philippines, you have the opportunity to have the best #fintech in the world. You have (a lot of) mobile phone users. You have many islands. Impossible to have bank branches in all islands. Philippines should be a cashless society, no corruption, life is easier.
  • When we started Alibaba, internet speed was much worse than it is in the Philippines.
  • I’m a believer in blockchain technology. We are believer in free trade, globalization; lots of money transaction that we want to be efficient.
  • Companies like us should win our market via innovation.
  • A lot of people don’t like globalization, but it creates job. It’s young, only 30 yrs. old.
  • EWTP is the WTO 2.0. Encourage govts to support small biz. A lot of export processing zones are designed for big companies. We want to build a process, a platform so every small business can global sell, buy, pay, deliver.
  • Amazon is e-commerce company. Alibaba is NOT an e-commerce company but an e-commerce enabler. E-Commerce makes up only 20% of our business.
  • I don’t want a company that’s a machine for making money.
  • I don’t wear watch, ring, etc. How much money can one make? One can only eat how many times in a day.
  • The day when I retire, the company will collapse. I don’t want that when I’m 80, I’m still working in the company. You don’t want an 80 year old and still chairman. I want to be in a beach in the Phiippines, not in office.
  • When I retire, I will write book on 1,000 mistakes Alibaba made.
  • Business is about friendship-building. Friendship is trust-building.
  • Young people who want to do a lot of things are better than a young person who doesn’t have anything he wants to do. You have to do things you love to do. Pick up the things you love, you’re good at, what you know will last long, not what other people love, or think will last long.
  • Priority while in school and when in business is the same: to learn. When you do the business, you learn from the business. When you’re in school, you have to put the other knowledge into practice.
  • When you are 20-30 years old, find a good boss, not a good company. A good boss is better than a good company. A good boss will discipline you, train you, develop you. When you’re 30-40 years old, try to do something (for yourself). When you’re 40-50 years old, do something you are good at. Don’t do something you know nothing anything about. When you’re 50-60 years old, focus on helping young people. When you’re over 60 years old, spend time with your grandchildren.
  • Human being has wisdom, machines have intelligence, animals have instincts. Alibaba is focused on machine intelligence. Machines can’t replace humans but they are smarter.
  • (To La Salle:) Thank you for the doctorate degree, but I was considered a bad student. I tried 3 yrs to enter university, I was never in top 10. In traditional education, I’m considered a failure.


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