Jack Ma defines real Success

and it is not what you think.

One of the things that is normally asked of someone as important, successful, and influential as Jack Ma would be “how do we become successful like you? How do we become #9 on richest person in the world? How do we become influential like you?”

This was something that was asked of Jack Ma when he gave a talk at De La Salle University yesterday to the students and other budding entrepreneurs. His answer though was not what you would expect.

Jack Ma, it seems, does not base success on how rich he is, how influential he is, or how popular he is worldwide. In fact, Jack Ma said that this is not what makes a person successful. Jack Ma believes that a person is only successful when he is happy doing what he does and when he gets to spend his energy and time doing what he loves. Success for him is being able to share his knowledge with students and people who want to learn.


Jack Ma also asks a lot of the hard stuff that we need to answer should we want to succeed in life. What are you willing to give up? What can you do that will change the world? What can you contribute to society? How crazy is your idea?

In an open dialogue with students last October 25 at the University’s Teresa Yuchengco Auditorium, Alibaba Group Founder and Executive Chairman Jack Ma encouraged De La Salle University students to continue finding opportunities despite constant failures.

Sharing that he was not a great student as he failed a number of times in his entrance exams, from primary school to middle school to college, he said that they should pursue the dream they are most passionate about. He likewise shared his insights and experiences about success and failures, the future of entrepreneurship, and his advocacy on social development.

“How can young people have opportunities? We should enable them by technology and we should improve the education system,” he said, as he noted the importance of constant learning and development.

He highlighted the importance of UN social development goals and mission and responsibility. He also shared some words of encouragement with the audience, which was comprised of students, educators, and leaders in the business sector.

Best known for his innovation in e-commerce, Ma has received numerous awards from prestigious global institutions such as the “2015 Entrepreneur of the Year” at the Asian Awards and the “2009 CCTV Economic Person of the Year Award:  Business Leader of the Decade Award.” In addition, Ma was named 30th Most Powerful Person in the World” by Forbes Magazine in 2014, “Business Person of the Year” by Business Week in 2005, and “World’s 100 Most Influential People” by Time Magazine in 2009.

As a leader and philanthropist, he has supported and served in various advocacy and socio-civic organizations which include: Being the Founder of the Jack Ma Foundation, Co-Chairman of Paradise Foundation, Special Adviser to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development for Youth Entrepreneurship and Small Business, United Nations Special Advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals, and Member of the Global Board of Directors of The Nature Conservancy.

During the event, which was also attended by faculty, staff, alumni, and donors, DLSU conferred on Ma the degree Doctor of Science in Technopreneurship, honoris causa. “This is a great university with a long history and a great mission, and the thing that I feel most excited about is that this university carries the SDG or the Sustainable Development Goals. As one of the UN’s advocates for that, I feel extremely happy for our school to continue this mission,” he said.

Other notable personalities who have received honorary degrees from DLSU in the past years include Nobel Laureate for Physics David Jonathan Gross, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry Richard Heck, former Timor-Leste President and Nobel Laureate for Peace Jose Ramos-Horta, Nobel Laureate in Economics Eric Maskin, Nobel Laureate in Economics Robert Mundell, Nobel Laureate in Literature Mario Vargas Llosa, Nobel Laureate in Medicine Torsten Wiesel, former World Bank President James Wolfensohn, and Nobel Laureate in Chemistry Ada Yonath.

Kathy Kenny


Digital marketer. Events host. Content writer. Pursuer of dreams. Music, movie, and book lover. Collector of snowglobes, ref magnets, pens, mugs, Care Bears, notebooks, and makeup. Wanderlust. Sapiosexual. Yawyan Advocate.