Alibaba founder Jack Ma has grown his company to the point where it is estimated to be worth over 420 billion. Ma himself is said to be worth just over 36 billion. So with numbers like this, many would expect that beginning his endeavor Ma was a tech and marketing genius—this is not the case at all. Ma himself is the first to say that he knows nothing about either. Not to mention, he also is quick to point out he has very little legal knowledge as well. So then, what does Ma attribute his astronomical success to? In his words, it is his knowledge about people that got him to where he is today.
Ma's mantra: make your customers happy, plain, and simple. Also your team—you can't forget how important it is to keep your team happy. When these two things line up, Ma explains, then you will be happy.
Ma originally was set to become a teacher. He sort of just landed upon the idea of starting a tech firm upon visiting the US in the mid-90s. A friend of his introduced him to the concept of the internet back then. Ma had no idea what it entailed at the time. The very first word that he searched was "beer" as it was one of the easiest for him to spell. He then looked up China; however, he could find nothing on the subject.
Upon realizing this, he asked his friend about creating a page-oriented around the search term China. And in this very rudimentary start, Alibaba was born. It began life as an e-marketplace for information on China.
As the company grew, Ma touts his people skills as that which catapulted Alibaba to such great heights. He was trained to be a teacher after all. And as a teacher, according to Ma, your best product is your students. He took his teacher training and applied it to his interactions with employees, leading, educating, encouraging every step of the way.
It works both ways, Ma explains. They listen to you, but you also have to listen to them. Listening equals empowerment, and ultimately, you want employees to feel empowered. In this way, they will be motivated to work harder and perform optimally. Ma genuinely cares about his team and as a result, his team cares about him.
What it all does come down to for Ma though is the customer. Making your customer happy, making them love your brand—this is truly the key to great success.
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