Entrepreneurs

Aaron Sansoni - Jack Ma Header

Think Like Spotlight: Jack MA

560 315 Aaron Sansoni

This month’s entrepreneur spotlight is one of inspiration and perseverance. It is the story of Jack Ma, a 54-year old Chinese businessman worth approximately US$34.7 billion. He hasn’t always been a success story, however. Jack Ma grew up very poor and suffered a great deal of rejection prior to his rise to fame.

Claim to Fame: Alibaba Group

Entrepreneurial History:

Ma began his career with a visit to the United States in 1995. It was here that some friends introduced him to the internet. Ma was immediately fascinated and perplexed. He couldn’t find any websites relating to China during his online searches. Recognizing an opportunity, he created one that would attract several investors in the span of a few hours. He set out to create a Chinese internet company but, unfortunately, this attempt (and the next one) would fail.

Four years later, in 1999, Jack Ma would host the meeting that began the company responsible for his success: Alibaba Group. The company would be the Chinese equivalent of a modern-day Amazon — an online marketplace of sorts. Ma and 17 of his friends worked hard and by October of 1999, they had raised more than USD$25 million to be used for the improvement of World Trade Organization challenges.

Alibaba would continue to experience growth throughout the early 2000s and actually became profitable in 2002 but they were not unchallenged. eBay had appeared on the scene and although Alibaba attempted to keep up with their own version called Taobao, the competition was proving fierce. Eventually, Taobao would attract the attention of eBay and an offer to purchase would be made. Jack Ma, a businessman at heart, rejected the offer choosing to partner with another investor instead.

Yahoo agreed to invest USD$1 billion in exchange for a 40% share in Jack Ma’s company. This move would prove to be the catalyst that propelled Alibaba into fame. Ma would remain CEO of the Alibaba Group over the next eight years. He stepped down in 2013 but remained an integral part of the company as he took on the role of executive chairman.

In 2014, the company went public which is significant for two reasons. First, it created the “largest offering for a US-listed company in the history of the New York Stock Exchange.” Second, it made Jack Ma the richest man in China, although this particular title would be temporary.

Jack Ma’s entrepreneurial story demonstrates the importance of perseverance and a positive attitude. He did not let more than 20 job rejections and 2 failed entrepreneurial ventures beat him. He kept going.

Today, Jack Ma is devoted to entertainment, philanthropy, and trade.

Aaron Sansoni - Don't Read Success Stories Header

Why You Shouldn’t Read Success Stories

560 315 Aaron Sansoni

Success stories are earning themselves a rather poor reputation on the world wide web. Many people devour them in an attempt to glean some sort of recipe or checklist for success. They are then disappointed to find narration instead of instruction and there is a perfectly good reason for this. Success stories motivate, but they don’t activate.

Motivation occurs when you are inspired to do something great. It’s activation, however, that teaches you how to take action. This is exactly why several success stories turn out to be a disappointment for readers. Sure, they are interesting reads. Sure, they motivate you temporarily. But, they leave with you no heading. No direction. No instruction. No idea what to do next.

Individuals that are truly ready to take control of their lives and improve their daily reality shouldn’t read success stories. They should read stories that teach lessons instead. When you log online or head to the nearest shopping center to choose your next entrepreneurial help book, keep the following 3 things in mind:

  1. Everyone’s story is different. You’ll never be able to replicate a success story in its entirety. Your circumstances are different. Your background is different. You are different.
  2. Inspiration is great but activation is better. Look for books that give you useful pieces of advice and small action items you can take to begin your journey. You don’t want a story. You want information you can use.
  3. Every good lesson requires notetaking. If the book you choose doesn’t automatically include a place for you to scribble down your thoughts and outline relevance to your own life, then it’s probably not meant for action.

So what kind of books should you read?

Whether your an entrepreneur, a businessman, or a salesperson, if you want to make progress you need to read sources that are designed to guide you. Look for books that include tools for progress and examples on how to use them. Find a book that allows you to draw parallels from the lessons that it spells out for you.

You already know that Think Like is different, and I encourage you to read it as an example of how a success story can be repurposed into something useful and activational. Once you have an idea of what that looks like, you’ll be better prepared to choose books that will help you make progress on your journey.