Jack Ma On Success: Being Smart Is Not Enough, You Need Empathy


Take it from Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, one of the world’s multi-billion dollar e-commerce giants: one needs EQ (emotional quotient) and LQ (love quotient) as well as their smarts if they want to make it in business.

“If you want to be successful, you should have great EQ, because you’d know how to work with people. No matter how smart you are, if you never know how to work with people, you will never be successful,” Ma said during a forum organized at a business school in the Philippines where he was the main speaker.

Ma has repeatedly said that he knows “very little about technology” but his principle of treating people well helped him launch Alibaba in 1999 and it has since been thriving.

“Most students pay extreme attention to IQ (intelligence quotient), but don’t pay attention to EQ. If you don’t have EQ, LQ, you won’t go nowhere,” the Chinese billionaire said to the audience composed mostly of businessmen and students.

He added that it’s also important to own up to your mistakes instead of placing fault on other people.

“A lot of people fail because when they fail, they always complain about others. Only those people who [admit]their problems succeed. If you complain, you must have a solution. If there’s no solution, don’t complain,” he said.

Ma believes that failure happens for the same reasons, such as when people become greedy, don’t work well with their team, or just plain have “too much money.” It is also important to him that the youth see through these mistakes of the generations before them so they will have the foresight to steer clear of those pitfalls.

Ma also reminded the students in the forum that when they aspire for something, they should be ready to ask themselves how much they are willing to sacrifice for it.

“If you don’t think about what you’ll give up, you’ll not have what you want,” he said.

At 53, Ma said that what keeps him busy nowadays is securing ways to keep the company secure and growing, for the benefit of his over 60, 000, and the more to come.

“If I can’t make that happen, that’d be the biggest mistake that I would make,” he said.


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