business lessons


Jack is different from most of his Internet billionaire peers. He struggled in

math as a student and wears his ignorance of technology as a badge of honour.

His outsize ambitions and unconventional strategies won him the nickname

“Crazy Jack.” In this post, you will explore a bit of his past and his quirky

personality to learn the method to his successful life.

1. Believe in your idea beyond mockery and disapproval.

The first important business lesson to learn is this; do not expect everyone to believe in your idea, your business, your plans. Etc.

Imagine being mocked at by people who are more experienced than you, this deters the strongest of men.

But Jack was not, he knew the huge market in express delivery at the time, and he continued disregarding the mockery.

Have that un-deterring attitude towards scorns and mockery even if it comes from a source you hold high up.

You need is to believe in your idea, your own business, your path, even if made a laughing stock by another.

Believe first in what you know, this jeeps you on despite all raving odds. In business, you need a tough skin to survive- Build it!

The best of every man is still a man, do not allow the heights of others to limit you from exceeding that height. There is more out there. Endless. Unlimited. Untapped.


2.  Don’t wait for everything to be perfect, attempt.

The keyword is attempting.

You can start by attempting. You can expand by attempting.

You can try out “new and scary” by attempting(and suceed).

You can change course entirely by attempting. You can build that idea into a multimillion-dollar business by attempting. You can make a savoury lasagna by attempting. First, Attempt!

Where I come from, sometimes the instructions for high school and undergraduate levels examination read: Attempt question 1 and three others or Attempt four questions. I interpret this as; write down what you know or what you think you know. Even when you do not know 100%, write what you think is the answer.

Use this logic through life- attempt today. When it seems daunting, rather than holding on till God-knows-when, attempt! If you make mistakes- learn, if it booms- congratulations!

Realistically, you get a more beautiful view of a mountain when you begin your journey towards it compared to its blurry image through your window. Start by attempting! NOW.

business lessons

3. Your company will reflect your values as a leader.

As the founder of a large business, a small startup, the CEO of an organization, a team leader, you set the atmosphere.

Let me share a story I once read from Strive Masiyiwa with you: When Nelson Mandela was President of South Africa, he came several times to Harare. On one of those occasions, he decided to co-host a Business Breakfast meeting with his host Robert Mugabe at the leading hotel in the city.

When Nelson Mandela arrived, he was relaxed and jovial. He went to almost every person and gave them a high five. It was so warm, and beautiful. He beckoned everyone to sit, and he shared a few jokes as he went around.

Robert Mugabe was preceded by heavily armed soldiers who took positions at every corner of the room. Everyone was made to stand as he walked in.

An atmosphere of fear quickly filled the room. A few minutes later he walked in surrounded by Secret Service personnel, Robert Mugabe did not greet anyone, except Nelson.

This is an important business lesson to learn and master.

The leader in any vocation sets the tone. As a leader, what kind of tone are you setting? One of love and hospitality? Or one of fear? You hold that power at your disposal to set a healthy atmosphere, as this breeds good fruits. Both in your presence and absence.

4.  Appear related and don’t over-shine your attributes.

Jack once explained that he loves the lead character of the movie Forrest Gump because “people think he is dumb, but he knows what he is doing.”

This affirms that you do not always have to stick with the usual pattern or norms of doing things. You do not always have to fit into the approved societal context of business or life in general.

You do not always have to walk on other peoples’ paths.

Deviate out from the usual. Try the unusual. Try new strategies which are not in the books, develop your initiative and use it more. Even if it seems stupid. Take the risk.
business lessons

5.  Spend enough time with your family.

The feelings of regret are strong- stronger than the feelings of buying a new house or car or the latest iPhone immediately it gets launched.

The desire for great achievements and to attain feats can be compelling, and if not watched- consuming, consuming your time, your energy, your attention, which your family craves.

Do not neglect your family! They should always remain your priority over your business. Time lost with them is time lost forever!

Attend their graduation, their games, be home early for dinner, watch a movie together on the couch, be intimate with your spouse, go to the park together, go to church together, spend time with your siblings, your parents. Create those memories! Be available for your own. They need you as much as your business needs you. Always remember this.

Learning to make adequate time for your family is an essential life lesson you should hold dearly.

6. You might fail numerous times, but keep going.

As cheese is part of a cheeseburger, failure is part of life. Even the smartest people, the best, have failed at one point in their life. For Jack, his series of failures highjacked him early in life.

Jack never gained admission to a prestigious university in Beijing or Shanghai.

But in 1984, when he was nineteen, he raised his math score sufficiently to win acceptance to a local university, the Hangzhou Teachers College, after two failed attempts on taking the gaokao exams.

There is no guarantee that failure would not arise, whenever it arises ensure you rise above it.” Jack did not find commercial success with Hope (his first company).

But his first venture gave him direct exposure to the entrepreneurial revolution that was transforming Zhejiang and his first tentative steps as an entrepreneur himself.

Let me share an insight I got from reading: Money won’t make you rich by Sunday Adelaja;

Find inspiration in your obstacles. (Like Jack did). Obstacles will come your way as soon as you determine your goals. Learn to see impediments to progress as stages of success. Everything you overcome will bring you closer and closer to your dream. It is like a ladder in that the higher you climb, the more effort it takes. Every step seems like a test or trial, but it brings you closer to your end-game. Teach yourself to have this positive attitude towards your goal.

Sunday Adeleja

Jack once again set about applying for jobs to make ends meet. He sent out eleven job applications but all were met with rejection.

Jack likes to tell the story of how even KFC turned him away, the only one of twenty-four candidates they didn’t like.

Imagine the extreme rejection. Be courageous as you walk through life! Do not be afraid to accept the challenges that life throws at you. One of Jack’s favourite quotes is:

“Today is brutal, tomorrow is more brutal, but the day after tomorrow is beautiful. However, the majority of people will die tomorrow night. They won’t be able to see the sunshine the day after tomorrow.” Ensure you see the sunshine the day after tomorrow!

business lessons

7.  Always get professional counsel.

Be swift to realize when you need help; career help, business help, financial help. Etc. Do not absorb everything with the mentality that you can handle it. Seek professional assistance in the right places, early in time.

There is no glory in unending suffering, uncertainty, confusion. Be confident enough to admit that you need help then go after it swiftly. The more time wasted, the more damage done to either you or your business. It is “strength” to admit that you need help. Do not wallow in your misery- reach out!

When I play scramble for an elongated period, my brain slows down on identifying new words speedily compared to when I started.

The letters begin to synchronize with my mind which causes a delay in identifying the words. However, someone who has not been staring down at the screen identifies those words eluding my mind quicker.

We can apply this same logic to business, certain times you need fresh eyes and minds of people, of professions to stare down at the problem you are encountering. They may identify the problem- immediately!

Take advantage of the knowledge and experience of others in your field.


1. Apply prompt and firm action to contain and avert any damage to your business.

2. Jack received backlash against the Alipay dispute but he did not back out. Be bold about your decisions even if the majority would question them.

3. At some point, things will get rough. When that happens, holding on to the values which got you started in the first place is one way out.

4. Know how to instil guts into your team or your workers.

5. There will always be risks in business, developing a keen sense of discernment lessens the chances of disruption.

The story of Jack Ma leaves me fascinated, fascinated by his resilience, his focus, his charm and joviality, his craziness, his hospitability and definitely his guts! There remain several business lessons to learn from the Jack Magic. Start with implementing these I have provided for you and see.

Explore your creativity with classes in illustration, photography, design, and more. Start a Free Trial today.

Until next time.

I put together Jack Ma’s business stories with lessons to help you learn from the experience of a successful entrepreneur to make your successful business journey somewhat easier.

I believe in you woman and what you can achieve.

DISCLAIMER: All numbered words are excerpted from; Alibaba, the house that Jack Ma built. By Duncan Clark.

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