Jack Ma, whose real name is Ma Yun, was born on September 10th, 1964, in Hangzhou, China. From a very early age, he realized the simple truth that if he were to communicate with the world, he had to learn English, as the world wouldn’t learn Chinese.
It is unclear who exactly gave him his first English lessons, but the little boy would hang out in front of the city’s International Hotel in the hope of exchanging a few words with some English speakers. Later, he would ride several miles on his secondhand bicycle to the center of Hangzhou, where he would hold big posters offering guided tours of the city to western tourists.
A magnate, whale investor, and philanthropist, Jack Ma comes from a humble background. Yet, his perseverance and determination to succeed in life have made him one of the richest people in the world. Today, he is best known as the co-founder of the tech conglomerate Alibaba Group.
Jack Ma Facts
1. It took Jack Ma four years to enter university
Little Jack knew that knowledge is power. At the same time, he was well-aware that the English he’d picked up from foreigners at the hotel would not give him many advantages among his peers. What he needed were formal higher education and a college degree.
As he did not have the money to take private lessons, he started preparing himself for the admission exams alone, while doing odd jobs to support his existence. For three years in a row, he’d sit the admission exam of Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute and he’d fail every time. Finally, his fourth attempt was successful and Ma enrolled in the BA Program in English Studies, which he completed successfully in 1988, an interesting Jack Ma fact.
2. Fresh out of college, Ma filed 30 different job applications, and they all were rejected
The professional path of Jack Ma was rough, to say the least. Fresh out of college, he thought he’d gotten the advantage he’d longed and worked for so hard. Alas, he couldn’t have been more wrong!
During a motivational speech in Los Angeles, Ma shared with his audience the following curious incident: “I even went to KFC when it came to my city. There were twenty-four candidates for the job and twenty-three were in. I was the only guy to be sent home…”
3. Ma’s accidental discovery of the internet was his life-changer
It wasn’t until 1994 when Ma heard about the Internet by chance. At that time, he’d already opened his first company, the Haibo Translation Agency. At the beginning of next year, Jack was finally granted an entry visa to the USA and went on an exploratory tour around the country with a group of friends. His main goal was to learn more about the Internet.
While browsing randomly at the computer of a friend of his, Ma was quick to realize that China was terra incognita for the World Wide Web, an interesting fact about Jack Ma. However he tried he could not find any general info about his home country online. Mind you that was in pre-Google times.
So, Jack and his friend quickly threw a rudimentary website together and filled its sections with whatever information about China they could think of. They put it online the next morning and by noon it had already become extremely popular. Ma started receiving emails from Chinese businessmen who were asking him to publish info about their companies on his website. By April 1995, China Pages had generated a profit of $5 million.
4. Jack Ma’s favorite movie is Forest Gump
Considering that Jack Ma’s life is a classic example of a rags-to-riches story, it is not surprising that his favorite movie is Forest Gump, in which Tom Hanks uttered the famous line: ”My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
5. He owns only 6% of the company he co-founded
Although Alibaba is at last as big as Facebook, eBay, and Amazon, an interesting fact about Jack Ma is that his share in his brainchild is only six percent. This teaches us that having more does not always make a man happier. In fact, China’s richest man takes pleasures in simple things like wearing outlandish costumes and giving singing and dancing performances for his close friends in private.
6. Ma’s favorite superhero is Feng Qingyang
When he needs an emotional recharge, Jack Ma calls in his mind the image of Feng Qingyang – a legendary master of the sword from the secret Mount Hua Sect. Feng is one of the few remaining practitioners of the lethal technique known as The Nine Swords of Dugu.
7. Jack Ma thinks green
Having become one of the captains of the Chinese industry, Jack Ma realized he and his business partners had to make some serious commitments to protect and improve the environment in their home country. At Alibaba’s general meeting in 2010, Mr. Ma announced the company was going to allocate 0.3% of its turnover to supporting big environmental projects. During his emotional speech, Jack Ma coined the term “healthy money”. By this, he means money that is not only good for the individual but also bring benefits to the community.
8. Ma’s Wife Zhang Ying used to be Alibaba’s general manager for China
That’s not a very curious or unusual fact in itself. While Jack was building his business empire, his significant other was supporting him as best she could by doing a myriad of errands for her husband every day. At one point, she even became Alibaba’s general manager for China. However, Jack quickly asked her to step down, because he figured their three children needed her more than the company did, an interesting Jack Ma fact.
In addition to everything said above, Jack Ma is one of the most influential figures of our time. Some of his greatest motivational speeches are available on YouTube, but he also travels a lot and could be heard live in some of the world’s financial capitals. If you ever have the chance to see Jack Ma in person, don’t miss it!
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