How many of you have already used AliExpress.com or Alibaba.com? I have been listening to one of China’s wealthiest man, Alibaba‘s CEO and co-founder, Jack Ma’s interviews and talks through YouTube videos lately, I found him to inspire me in some ways. One, I like the fact he likes to watch ‘Forrest Gump’ movie over and over again. I mean, Forrest Gump movie teaches us to have a childlike faith and optimism in life. In this interview with CNBC, Jack Ma mentioned that he has watched Forrest Gump movie about ten times. When he gets frustrated, he watches the movie. According to him, the movie teaches him to be humble. It teaches him not matter what have changed in his life, he is still the same person 15 years ago when he only earned like $20 a month. I am the same way; I maybe not rich like Jack Ma, but I have some movies that I like to watch over and over again. Before I became born-again Christian, I used to watch movies like ‘Dumb and Dumber,’ or ‘See no Evil, Hear no Evil.’ They used to humble me and teach to fight in life, but also laugh to the core. But nowadays, I’m more selective with the movies I watch, or things I do when I get frustrated. It depends with the situation, but prayer, a good read, and uplifting music or teaching video, will also be my remedy for curing some of my frustrations moments.
What I am also inspired by Jack Ma is that he, like so many other highly successful people out there like Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Telsa Inc., they have proven that if you believe and are determined to work hard, but smart, you also can succeed. Jack Ma inspires me that you can come from nothing, from zero, to a billionaire. You don’t need to come from a rich family in order to succeed in this life. There is also more about Jack Ma to learn from. He also has broken some boundaries such as the necessity to being articulate in some universal languages such as English, Portuguese, French, and et cetera, or being multilingual. It doesn’t guarantee success, nor it is a measure of intelligence; it’s not always the case. But also having certain appearances, or be of certain color and race, or living in specific places in the world; all of these doesn’t not guarantee that you will automatically be very successful; not so with everyone. He has proven to some societies that such things are no longer valid.
But what has top most of all about Jack Ma’s interesting story during his humbling days is his enthusiasm to wanting to succeed. From Wikipedia.org, it said after graduating from Beijing-based Graduate School of Business, Jack Ma applied for 30 different jobs and got rejected by all. “I went for a job with the police; they said, “You’re no good,” Jack Ma told interviewer Charlie Rose.” I even went to KFC when it came to my city. Twenty-four people went for the job. Twenty-three were accepted. I was the only guy who did not get accepted.” In addition he applied 10 times for Harvard and got rejected. But that’s not it, the story continues. In 1994, Jack Ma heard about the Internet. In early 1995, he went to the US and with his friends’ help he got introduced to the Internet. During his first encounter he searched the word “beer”. Although he found information related to beer from many countries, he was surprised to find none from China. Further, he tried to search for general information about China and again was surprised to find none. So he and his friend created an “ugly” website related to China. He launched the website at 9:40 Am and by 12:30 PM he had received emails from some Chinese wishing to know about him. This is when Jack Ma realized that the Internet had something great to offer. In April 1995, Jack Ma, his wife, and a friend went around, asked for USD 20,000, and started their first company. Their company was dedicated to creating websites for companies. He named their company “China Yellow Pages.” Within three years, his company had made 5,000,000 Chinese Yuan which was equivalent to USD 800,000.
Jack Ma began building websites for Chinese companies with the help of friends in the US. He has said that “the day we got connected to the Web, I invited friends and TV people over to my house,” and on a very slow dial-up connection, “we waited three and a half hours and got half a page. We drank, watched TV and played cards, waiting. But I was so proud. I proved (to my house guests that) the Internet existed.” At a conference in 2010, Jack Ma revealed that he has never actually written a line of code nor made one sale to a customer. He acquired a computer for the first time at the age of 33. From 1998 to 1999, Jack Ma headed an information technology company established by the China International Electronic Commerce Center, a department of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation. In 1999, he quit and returned to Hangzhou with his team to found Alibaba, a China-based business-to-business marketplace site in his apartment with a group of 18 friends. He started a new round of venture development with 500,000 Yuan.
But, do you know, the struggle didn’t end there? The brand did not turn a profit for the first three years; therefore Jack Ma had to get creative. One of their main challenges was that they didn’t have a method way to do payments, and no banks would work with Alibaba Company. For the first three years, they had a lot of free members using their site, and they didn’t know how they would make money. So they developed a product for China exporters to meet U.S. buyers online. This model saved them. By the end of 2002, they made $1 in profits. Then each year they improved, and today, Alibaba is very profitable.
I mean, this is a man who never had a computer or knowledge of coding, but yet started his first company building websites for Chinese companies hiring other people from another country. You have to admit, Jack Ma is very impressive, and he knows how to motivate people who are smarter than him. To be able to convince others to come and play along is one of the strongest qualities of a leader, or an entrepreneur. Let me ask you a question; how many times so far have you been rejected maybe from job offers, or book publishers, maybe got turned down before you got capital to financing your first business venture? Is there something we can learn from Jack Ma? We too can succeed; we too you can break boundaries. We may be limited by our circumstances and situations, but God is not. And that’s all we need to know. Instead of doubting and complaining, we can say, “God, I don’t know how you are going to make this happen for me, or when you are going to do it, or whether is this You want for me, but I believe You are able to help me succeed. May Your Will be done in my life” This is what a childlike faith is like. You believe as if it is impossible to fail. With the faith like this, we can break those boundaries, break out of those boxes that we create for ourselves or others create for us on regular basis.
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