In success stories we take a look at some of the most successful people in history and breakdown their lives and tips to success. In this post we’re taking a look at the Chinese billionaire and true rags to riches story of Jack Ma.


NAME: Jack Ma

DOB: 15 October 1964

NET WORTH: 21.7 Billion USD

BUSINESSES: Alibaba Group


MENTOR: No high profile mentor

Early life

  • Had a desire to learn English as a child which enabled him to meet a pen pal. Due to his difficult original name, he was given the nickname Jack by his pen pal which has stayed with him today
  • Failed the university entrance exam 3 times and got turned down for a job by KFC
  • Eventually graduated in 1988 with a bachelors degree in English
  • Became an English and international trade lecturer


  • Encountered his first computer age 33
  • Started making websites for Chinese companies under the name China yellow pages.
  • Within 3 years he made the equivalent of 800,000 USD from China yellow pages
  • In 1999 he went back to Hangzhou with his team to found Alibaba in his apartment
  • Rejected an offer from Ebay to buy his company which proved wise. He later received a 1 billion dollar investment from Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang
  • September 2014 Alibaba raised 25 billion – the largest public offering in US financial history

Current life

  • Now the executive chairman of Alibaba Group
  • Alibaba’s online transactions have exceeded 1 trillion
  • Jack aims to overtake the eye watering profits that retail giant Walmart has achieved
  • Lecturer and keynote speaker
  • Wants to introduce 24 hour delivery system worldwide
  • Claims that life was simpler and far easier when he was broke

Top traits

  • Bilingual abilities
  • Spirited
  • Brave
  • Market intuition
  • Good public speaker
  • Good persuasion skills
  • Resiliency
  • Opportunistic

Tips for success

  • Don’t think about becoming rich overnight, be patient, stick with it
  • Be passionate
  • Be devoted
  • Be unique
  • Express gratitude towards customers
  • Be clear on strategy
  • Constantly improve
  • If you’re still broke by 35 then you deserve it

Best quote

Forget your competitors, just focus on your customers