MANILA — Jack Ma, who set up the internet-based business of Alibaba 18 years ago and has since become the richest man not just in China, but in all of Asia, is in the Philippines. After getting an honorary degree Wednesday, he shared insights behind his spectacular success, and met with President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
Now, having grown a business built on e-commerce, online payments, and other online services, Alibaba’s market capitalization, at $448.84 billion, is bigger than the Philippine economy’s $330 billion.
The Alibaba Group chairman went to De la Salle University in Manila to receive his honorary degree of doctor of science in technopreneurship. On Wednesday afternoon, he met with the President in Malacañang Palace.
According to him, it was critical to focus on how technology can be harnessed for human progress.
“We are now entering the fourth technology revolution. It’s not the technology that changes the world, it’s the people who use the technology that change the world,” said Ma.
He underscored the importance of being simple in life and persevering, and to focus, not on other people’s shortcomings, but on how to improve oneself.
“Don’t think we are smart; we have to stay foolish with our dreams and we have to continue. Be simple, stay foolish, and no matter what, you should continue, do not complain to others, only complain to yourself. Check: what is the problem with me? People fail because they always complain about the others . . . and only those people who always check their own problems . . . survive. These people succeed.”
He dished out career advice to young employees: look for a good boss. When you are 20-30 years old, please find a good boss. A good boss is better than a good company. A good boss would discipline you and train you. If you are 30-40 years old, if you want to do something yourself, do it. If you are 40-50 years old, do something you are good at, don’t do something you don’t know anything about. But when you are 50-60 years old, focus on the young and happy people. When you are over 60 years old, spend time with the grandchildren.”
It is important for small businessmen, he said, to dream big. The big businesses, meanwhile, should also seek to change, even slowly, in order to be more relevant to people’s needs.
The former English school teacher had in the past shared how frequently he got failing grades in Math, and was repeatedly rejected as a job applicant. But, he said, one should not stop dreaming, even if it looks impossible.
One should work with people who have similar visions. And then he quipped, if one has a crazy dream, one should not share it with his grandfather.
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