Biz Features

Words of Wisdom Misattributed to Ali Baba’s Jack Ma

by . November 24th, 2015

Ali Baba’s Jack Ma’s now almost as famous as Zuckerberg. No surprise then that so many popular aphorisms are now attributed to him.

But like Abe Lincoln said, “Don’t trust everything you read on the internet”.

As we’ve discussed in earlier posts, entrepreneurship writers like myself implicitly sell a variety of lifestyle porn for people who fantasize about living their dreams of swanky toys and filthy lucre. In the process of creating this content, the truth often becomes a casualty.

I first became interested in Jack Ma around 2006, when I found out about Ali Baba as a source for cheap but gig-worthy musical equipment for a hobby of mine.alibabaalipay

International Business Times

Digging deeper, I was astonished to find out how immensely Ali Baba had grown in such a short time. Later on, Jack Ma would come to symbolize everything about the Chinese e-commerce industry, from its birth in a socialist system to its vibrance and vitality, all the way to it’s dominating grip on the world economy.

But Jack Ma is also in many ways an enigma to internet users who do not understand neither Chinese culture nor any of its major languages. This makes him an easy target by entrepreneurial lifestyle salesmen to misquote, either intentionally, or through lack of due rigor.

But the funny part is, most of these quotes seem to be good advice.

11 Types of People You Should Never Help:


People who are ungrateful.

People willing to forsake their principles for money.

People who use others for personal gain.    

People who backstab.         

People who turn on their principles for benefits.

People who don’t keep their promises but act pitiful when they need help.

People who won’t even complete small tasks but yet want to achieve big tasks.

People who place all their hopes on another person or external factors.

People you helped because of their promises but default on them.

People who have opportunities but still act poor.

People who take everything for granted and don’t show any gratitude. 

10 Types of People that are Most Suitable to be Partners:


Good friends you get along with.

People who share the same life values perspective. 

People you believe in and trust fully.

You are able to communicate with each other easily when problems arise.

Committed to the partnership as much as you are.

Are magnanimous as you.

Has similar aspirations as you.

Able to support each other fully.      

Displays a standard of professionalism.

Has the similar goals and beliefs.      

5 Types of People You should NEVER Partner With:


People who are not collaborative, unable to see the contributions of others and only care about their own results.

Those with no goals in life as they are only working for the sake of money and fulfilling their own greed.

Those without compassion for others.

People who are always negative, as they will demoralize you as well.

People who have no principles in life, cause they do not believe in dream and will not be able to withstand pressure nor temptations.

We corrected some of the so-called quotes for clarity and grammar issues. It would have been unlikely Jack Ma would have actually phrased them with those many errors given that he was an English teacher before he started to gain prominence as an internet entrepreneur.

Many of these aphorisms also have questionable merit, especially with the emphasis on sameness, rather than diversity. Here’s something he actually said:

“Intelligent people need a fool to lead them. When the team’s all a bunch of scientists, it is best to have a peasant lead the way. His way of thinking is different. It’s easier to win if you have people seeing things from different perspectives.”

Doesn’t necessarily mean the others weren’t said by him, but the nuances are different. It also doesn’t negate any wisdom that would have been in those quotes.

Why would anyone lie about these quotes?

We live in a complicated, mildly absurd world where we acknowledge “mob justice” as a bad while judging “social proof” as entirely different.

Social proof seems important to so many of us because most of us are uncertain and are faking it. We often have little else to go on. A writer like myself is a nobody compared to whoever the flavor of the month is.  So “social proof” gets faked.

For better or worse those people get misquoted because they are who they are. Jack Ma probably knows better, even if you’re basically saying the exact same thing.

But in any case, you do not want to be the next Jack Ma. You want to be the best you can be. But to be that, you must first know yourself.

Here’s the man’s take on it:

“It’s very difficult to know the outside world, but you know yourself. You know your need and what you want. If I know myself better, I can change myself to meet the outside world.”


Arthur Piccio manages YouTheEntrepreneur and has managed content for major players in the online printing industry. He was previously BizSugar's contributor of the week. His work has appeared multiple times on The New York Times' You're the Boss Small Business Blog. He enjoys guitar maintenance and reading up on history and psychology in his spare time.