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Jack Ma: 7 Tips and Pieces of Advice on Finding Your Opportunity and Being Happy

Por María Eugenia Guidara |


Jack Ma is one of the richest men in China and the whole world. Founder of Alibaba Group, one of the most important e-commerce consortia in the world, this multimillionaire didn’t have a wealthy father or a good education.

Nevertheless, his tenacity (among many other virtues) transformed him into what some call “the Bill Gates of Asia”. And to this, he responds: “Bill Gates and I have nothing in common. There is only one similarity. It’s that both of us are very attractive men”.

This is Jack Ma. We are going to know him in more detail, (also including accusations which were the issue of some time ago); and we’re going to share with you the 7 most inspirable tips and pieces of advice that we’ve gathered from Jack Ma so you learn how to find your opportunity and be happy.


Jack Ma’s History: His Origins, the Alibaba Empire and the Mass Pirating Scandal

He is 52 years old. He is the most powerful man in China and the first millionaire from this country which made it onto the cover of Forbes.

In almost all his known conferences and interviews, Jack Ma insists on telling how he learned English on his own. He was 12 years old and was working every day in a hotel in his city to offer guided tours to tourists in exchange for conversing in English with them. Isn’t that cool?

Rock-Star-retailer-Jack-Ma's-Alibaba-generated-more-online-revenue-during-Singles-Day-than-Black-Friday-and-Cyber-Monday Combined.

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Maybe you’re thinking that Jack Ma always gets what he wants. This isn’t true. He tried to enter three prestigious Universities in his birth city, Hangzhou, but failed. What’s even worse, he applied to Harvard 10 time and failed all 10 times. By force of frustration, he completed his studies of being a professor in an Institute from his city which is considered to be third or fourth in ranking.

After stumbling with jobs that didn’t mean much and in which he earned very little money, Jack Ma found his opportunity during a trip to the United States. It was the Internet.

It was 1994. The Internet was just taking its first steps. Jack Ma knew nothing about computers. Nor did he know how to use a keyboard, but he knew from that moment on that he had to do something with the Internet.

His idea formed immediately: a lot of people in China would like to sell their products abroad, but they don’t have anywhere to do it.  The large traders were going to the best exhibitions of the world, but the small companies didn’t have this option.

And what should they do? They complained! There, in these complaints, Jack Ma discovered his grand opportunity and was encouraged to create a work team to make an online sales platform for the small traders. A lot of people were against this.

 “They all were saying: this guy thinks different, crazy thoughts and things that could never work”. Jack Ma quote


In this atmosphere was born what then later turned into Alibaba Group. For three years, Jack Ma’s company didn’t earn a single dollar. The only goal was to survive.

  • 1999: Jack Ma founded the website, “a business to business portal for connecting Chinese manufactures with buyers abroad” (Wikipedia). Once again, there was a large lack of confidence. The most skeptical were saying that Jack Ma’s business model was appalling.
  • 2001: Jack Ma searched for his first financing for a value between 3 and 5 million dollars. Nobody wanted to invest.
  • 2005: Jerry Yang, the cofounder of Yahoo, invested 1,000 million dollars in Alibaba. From this point on the company didn’t stop growing.
  • September 19 2014: Alibaba launched on the Wall Street stock market. The actions of the Chinese conglomerate sky rocketed incredibly and placed Jack Ma among the ten richest men in Asia.

At the closing of this historical day, Alibaba had a value of 231,440 million dollars, an amount superior to Facebook ($200 million USD) and Amazon ($153 million USD).

From a startup founded in Jack Ma’s apartment with 18 employees and 60,000 dollars, Alibaba has been converted into the ecommerce giant with more than 3000 workers. In 2015, Forbes calculated Jack Ma’s fortune to be 20,700 million dollars.


All outstanding up until now. If Jack Ma’s wealth didn’t slow down in accumulating, neither did his problems. In 2015, the Chinese government published an absurd number. “More than 60% of what is sold through the platform is pirating”.

This sentence is from a published note on Forbes Mx about this hard battle against pirating (millions of false products and even false stores) which the company still faces despite trying to combat it.

But for Jack Ma stumbles aren’t falling. After everything “how many times did he stumble in life and finished triumphing equal? No one more displayed then him to advise you.


What Would Jack Ma Say to You if he Knew That You Were Dissatisfied With Your Life?

1.- Jack Ma Career Advice: If you don’t Find a Good Job, Create it Yourself.

“Complaining doesn’t help anything”, says Jack. And continuing: “all the successful entrepreneurs (Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Jack Welch, Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg) are optimists with a future. They never complain. They always try to resolve the problems of the rest”. Don’t complain without any future expectation; always think in an optimistic way

“A real failure is to stop fighting”.

2.- Jack Ma Advice: Look for Your Opportunity Where People Are Complaining.

It’s what he did himself. He saw the small traders complaining about not being able to sell their products abroad and he used the Internet to resolve this problem. It worked, right?



3.- Jack Ma and His Team: Keep clear what you want to do and have a good work team that believes in the project as much as you.

For Jack Ma it’s fundamental to work with people who believe in the Project. For this reason, it’s also key that you tell them exactly what you want to do. Believe in your dreams and convince the team that it’s possible to reach them.

“It doesn’t matter what the investors think, it doesn’t matter what your parents think, it doesn’t matter what your friends think, you believe it, your team has to believe it and work on it day and night”. (Jack Ma quote)

4.- Jack Ma Advice for you Startup: an innovative spirit and a hard worker

Novelty in a business model is fundamental. For Jack Ma, capacity isn’t everything. The decisions that are taken with an innovative sense are the most important.

Again, try not to be negative and think: how could I make this different? Or is there anything that can be done differently?. It’s necessary to think about this well to then start doing it.

As for the hard work, even in 1999 when the Alibaba Empire was still just a Project, Jack Ma told his team: “If we have that kind of 8am-to-5pm spirit, then we should just go and do something else”. 

 “The ideas function for others and the work functions for its self.”


5.- Your business model has to be based on providing help to someone else. It’s only when other people are successful and happy that you will be able to consider yourself successful and happy.

The example is in sight. The small traders have always thanked Jack Ma for giving them the opportunity to sell their products abroad. Currently, the Alibaba Group’s sites (taobao, alipay, tmall y Alibaba) have more than 100 million buyers a day. These sales benefit an approximate 50 million small companies.



6.- Don’t think about the opportunities that are already spent.

For Jack Ma an opportunity always exists. You only need to know how to discover it.

Regardless, for this Internet Empire the Network has a lot more potential to utilize. “The Internet is a bubble that keeps getting bigger and bigger. But when will it burst?”

The internet is a bubble that keeps getting bigger and bigger. But when will it burst?

In one of the many conferences which offered to thousands of people interested in hearing about his peaks, Jack Ma released an interesting explanation of the evolution of the Internet. He said that the past 20 years are known as IT, Technology Information. IT makes a company grows and becomes stronger.

Currently, we are entering a new era. In words of the speaker:

 “We are leaving the era: I have the information and you don’t. And stepping into the era: you have the information and I don’t, I don’t need the information. The new era is sharing, it’s responsibility, it’s passion for the future. Now all of us are equal because we all start on the same starting line”.

Jack Ma advise taking the max from this new Internet era. Here, thousands of opportunities for exploring can be found.

7.- Jack Ma Tip: If you decide to start your own business, you need to know that you are giving up a steady income.

There are always margins of risk. It’s most likely that for a period of time you won’t gain money from your business. But it you truly believe in what you do then, you don’t have to worry.

 “Today is complicated and you suffer, tomorrow is going to be worse, but after tomorrow everything is going to be great.”


Here they are the best tips from Jack Ma. Perhaps we missed one that says never forget to candy as a gift to your clients. Anyway, just a little humor. As a matter of fact, for this monster of business, the clients are always first. Second, the employees. Third, the shareholders.

We are done and hope that this post is a good boost for you. As you have seen, Jack Ma is an overwhelming personality. The Forbes magazine catalogued him on one of their covers as “unstoppable” and it’s true.


Above all, his optimism is astonishing. Do you know that he said in one of his previous conferences? That small companies will be the true leaders of global economy. He really is optimistic! What do you think?


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