My advice to the young people:
25 years old : Make enough mistakes. Don’t worry. You fall, you stand up; you fall, you stand up. Enjoy it. Just enjoy the show.
From 30 to 40 years old: You have to think very clearly, do you really want to be an entrepreneur, working for yourself?
40 to 50: Think about how can you focus on things that you are good at.
But when you are 50 to 60 years old, work for the young people. Because young people can do better than you. So rely on them, invest in them, making sure they’re good.
So, 25 years old, don’t worry. Any mistake is an income, a wonderful revenue for you.
In the future it’s not about the competition of knowledge. It’s the competition of creativity. It’s the competition of imagination. It’s the competition of learning. It’s the competition of independent thinking.
If you think like a machine, the problem will come.
In the past 20 years, we made people like a machine. In the next 20 years, machine will look like people.
So in the future, it’s not the knowledge driven. It’s the wisdom driven. It’s the experience driven. In the past it was the knowledge driven, the manufactory driven. In the future it will be creativity driven.
I think next 30 years the world is going to change a lot. The new technology is going to change every aspect of the world. The world should be focusing on not only the IQ, EQ, but also focus on LQ – the Quotient of Love. Because only when you care about the others, only when you care that the others will be more successful than you are, you will have the chance.
I failed for…funny things – a key primary school test for two times. And I failed like three times for the middle school…I tried… If you want to go to the university you have to take the examination, and I failed three times. When I graduated from my university, I applied for jobs for 30 times, got rejected. I went for police, they said: “No, you’re not good.” When KFC came to China, to our city, 24 people went for the job, 23 people were accepted. I was the only guy. And we went for police, 5 people, 4 of them accepted. I was the only guy they were not receiving. So to me, being turned down, rejected [was normal]. Oh, by the way, I told you that I applied for Harvard for 10 times, rejected.
I learned so much from the Hollywood movies, especially Forrest Gump. I love Forrest Gump. Why? Simple. Never give up. People think he’s dumb, but he knows what he’s doing. And I was very depressed … around year 2002 or 2003… in the United States… I was very depressed, when I could not find a way out for the internet. And then, I watched the movie in my friend’s home. Forrest Gump, when I see him I think – this is the guy we should learn from! Believe what you’re doing. Love it! Whether people like it or not. Be simple. Just like the word: “Life is like a box of chocolate, you never know what you can get.” Right? I never know I would be here talking to you. I never know. But today I made it.
I told my people in my apartment, 18 years ago: “Guys, we have to work hard. Not for ourselves. If we can be successful, 80% of the young people in China can be successful. We don’t have a rich father, a powerful uncle; we don’t have one dollar from the bank, or someone from the government. Just work as a team.” I worry about it today. A lot of young people lose hope, lose vision, and start to complain. We also had the same problem… It’s not a good feeling being rejected by so many people. We were also depressed. But at least later, we realised that the world has a lot of opportunities. How do you see the world? How do you catch the opportunity? …A lot of people today have a lot of complaints. They say: “I don’t have opportunity.” I complained a lot when I was young, and suddenly, I realised that complaint is not solving any problem. The opportunity is always in the place where people complain. There are so many opportunities in the world, because there are so many complaints! If you can solve one of the complaints, that’s the opportunity. I think if you continue to work hard, there’s possibility. If you don’t do it, nothing is possible. If you try to do it, at least you have the hope. Calm down. There’s always a way out, and keep yourself balanced.
Competition is fun. Business is like a battlefield. You die or I win. Even if you die, there will be another winner, right? So it’s better be fun. Yeah, tell them the story, and tell them that if Jack… I don’t think in this world there are a lot of people being rejected more than 30 times. If we [even made it]… you know, the only thing [is that] we never give up. We are like Forrest Gump. We keep on fighting. We keep on changing ourselves. We don’t complain. Whether you are successful or not. I find that when some finished his job, if he made a mistake and failed, if he always complained about the others, the guy will never come back. If he only checks himself…this guy has a hope.
So many people I talked to at that time for Alipay, they said, “This is the stupidest idea you have ever got.” But I said, “I don’t care if it is stupid or not as long as people use it.” Now we have 800 million people using this Alipay. Around year 1999, 2000, and even at the Yahoo time, a lot of people said, “This Jack is crazy. He’s doing something that we don’t understand.” A lot of venture capitalists gave money because there was such an American model already there, but they said: “Alibaba? We don’t see this kind of model.” They said, “Jack’s crazy.” -Yeah, this is the crazy guy.
I remember my first time in Time magazine, they called me “Crazy Jack”. And I think crazy is good. We are crazy but we’re not stupid. We know what we are doing. But if everybody agreed with me, if everybody believed that our idea is good, we have no chance… The money we raised we are very thankful. So, when our investors made a lot of money, I feel proud and honoured. Everybody has made it in a unique and different way. So, you must have a unique and different way [of doing things].
My advice to the entrepreneurs: Don’t be scared of failures, of setbacks. And don’t give up. When we started the business, we had 18 founders including me. Most of them are my students… Well, today people think: “These 18 people are the smartest people in China.” We don’t think we are smart. Honestly, we all graduated from the very poor schools. The only thing we did, we are very united. We all believe in the future. We are all optimistic. And we learn through mistakes. We never give up. If you graduate from the famous universities, please respect the people who graduate from the poor schools. Those people like us graduate from a poor university, please respect yourself. We made so many mistakes. People say: “You are lucky.” Yes, we are very lucky. We spent only 19 years to reach today’s size, but we have gone through so many tough situations, we made so many mistakes that people cannot even imagine. You have to go through so many tough experiences, and that will make you different.