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Jack Ma: Small is Powerful

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The Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group Jack Ma took part in the final plenary session of the 14th annual meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club titled “The World of the Future: Moving Through Conflict to Cooperation.”

Below are the excerpts from the script of Mr. Ma motivational inspirational speech. The whole script of the last session of the Valdai International Discussion Club, Sochi, Russia (Oct 19, 2017) may be read here.

“… When I hear so many worries and fears, that makes me feel that I am a very happy person because I do not have that much to worry about… Last year, I flew through the air for 867 hours, and I have been to many countries. I feel that the world is full of worries and fears. The area I worry about, an area a lot of people worry about, is technology. I think when we worry about technology and worry that the technology will destroy our future, I think that if we have more imagination if we have more confidence, we will feel much better.

In 1995, when I started my internet business in China, I was invited to join a group of experts, IT Expert Discussion, in Beijing, about 30 people. We sat in a room discussing how terrible the internet will be, what are the things we should worry about, any policy we should make. We had a whole night discussing the worries about the internet. Today, twenty years past, those things we worried about never came up. Those things we never worried about all came up.

I am very thankful for those worries because this gave Alibaba an opportunity. We did not have a lot of smart competitors join us. We grew so fast over the past 18 years, today we create more than 33 million jobs for China, and we ourselves made last year over $550 billion.

Where other people worry, we try to figure out the way how to solve the worries.

Today, many things have changed, but people still worry about the internet. They even worry more. It reminds me of the early days when people worried about cars when automobiles were designed. People worried more about car accidents, rather than the great things the car would bring to human lives. I noticed that people worry about data, privacy, people worry about security. I think that the worst thing we should worry about is the worry itself.

A lot of countries lose a lot of things because of worry. In Europe today, we do not see a lot of big internet companies. One of the reasons is that they worry too much, I think. The worry stops us from being more creative, being more confident, and stop young people from getting more opportunities… We do not have solutions for tomorrow, but our young people will have solutions for tomorrow… So trust the young people, trust our future… In all the universities I go to, everyone I speak to, people never worry about the future. They worry about us [the leaders]. They worry about stupid decisions we [the leaders] make for them. Most of the stupid policy decisions we made are all out of great intentions and are taken with kindness. This is something the young people worry about…

… We have 60,000 great, excellent young people from all over the world at Alibaba. In order to lead them, to lead those smart people, they need a stupid leader like me. They need to stay foolish, stay optimistic, and always try to find solutions for tomorrow. This is how I work with smart people.

Today, 1.8 billion people in the world are using the Internet. They speak, they check information, they communicate and do all those things you can do through the Internet. But they are not happy because today young people do not want to be informed, they want to get involved.

My grandfather got all the information through a newspaper. My father got information through the radio. I was getting my information from TV. We all were told to do this. But the Internet gives young people the opportunity to get involved. They want to be the masters of themselves. Very soon, we are going to have four to five billion people on the Internet. All the problems we have today will become bigger problems if we do not look at this with great optimism.

The other thing … we should really worry about, is … the education system. Whether you like it or not, the technology revolution is coming. Nobody can stop it. But the way we teach our kids, the curriculums we teach our kids, the subjects we teach our kids, will stop our kids from getting jobs. Because one thing is sure: the computers are going to be much smarter than human beings. If we keep on teaching our kids the way we taught over the past one hundred years, our kids will be losing jobs or will not be able to find jobs over the next thirty years. Computers can remember better, computers can calculate better, computers never have this kind of human anguish.

This is something we should teach our kids: to be more creative. We should teach our kids to be more innovative. We should teach our kids to be more constructive.

I want every government to pay special attention to the education system over the next 30 years. We worry about data technology, but data technology is something that might be the solution to solve the world’s sustainability, solve the world problem of inclusiveness. We are entering into a new world, but very few people really understand how powerful it is, how revolutionary it is. If you do not think positively, you will not have a positive result. If you think negative, you will surely have a negative result.

Today we worry, we feel pain about the Internet. But I am telling you: we are not even entering the growing pain of Internet technology. Every technology takes about fifty years. The first twenty years is about Internet technology companies. The next thirty years is about the application of this technology. The next thirty years will be the years when the technology of those companies will be used to do good. The car was not invented in America, but America made use of it. Electricity was not invented in America, but America used it.

… The world is shifting from IT to DT. DT is not the Digital Time. It is Data Time. Digital Time is the upgraded version of IT Time. DT is totally different from IT… Data Time is a new theory. Data technology is the solution to solve a lot of problems we have today.

For example, people worry about privacy, people worry about security. We use data to use Internet technology, to use Internet financing… We have given loans to over five million small businesses. Every small business gets a loan from us not less than $5,000. The procedure is 3–1–0 [Alibaba’s Sesame credit scoring system]. They apply within three minutes. Within one second the money will be on the account, and zero people touch it. So the 3–1–0 approach solves a lot of problems for increasing financing.

This is what data brings us. IT technology makes us strong. DT technology is to empower the others. With IT technology, we compete with knowledge. With DT technology, we compete with wisdom. IT technology – we compete with muscle. DT technology – we compete with the brain. IT makes us know the world better. DT will know the human being better.

People always say, what is the difference between smart and wise? Smart people know what they want. Wise people know what they do not want. This is what we believe. DT is the human behavior. By learning the behaviors, we will understand ourselves better. When we understand ourselves better, we will know what we do not want… We should ensure that the technology is inclusive.

… One thousand years ago, global trade was determined by a few kings and emperors. Last thirty or forty years, globalization benefited only 60,000 big companies. What if we can support 60 million small and medium-sized companies that can grow global trade? What if we can help young people so that they can buy, sell, pay, deliver and travel globally?

We think that over the last century, massive, large-scale standardization is the key. This century, with personal-made, with small and medium-sized companies we may have a lot of things that are different. I want to say that with DT Time, the world will be different. We can make the world fairer. We will make the technology to empower more young people, more small businesses…

The other thing is that we should never stop the trade. When trade stops, war starts. Trade is something which builds trust. When we build trade, we respect the other culture. When we do trade, it means that we appreciate the other culture. So we should encourage more trade. We should encourage more young people, small and big business to engage across the board. I think that the world needs not only a G20, we also need a G200. The world should not only have a B20, but also a B200.

Of course, the way we do trade will be totally different. We are not going to do trade going to trade shows, trade fairs. Most of the business will be done on the Internet. In the future, the trade will not be done through containers. Trade will be done through packages. In the future business will not be B2C. In the future, the business will be C2B. This is what we believe in. We think in the future there will be no Made in China, no Made in America, no Made in Russia. It is going to be Made on Internet

Finally, I want to say that DT technology will kill a lot of jobs. But most of these jobs are stupid jobs. These jobs are not supposed to be done by computers, are not supposed to be done by human beings. Over the past one hundred years, we made people like a machine. Now we make machines like people. But the right way to do it is to make over the next ten-twenty years a machine like a machine and people like people. A machine will never be able to conquer human beings. Machines are smart, machines are stronger and faster, but a machine does not have a soul, does not have values, does not have a belief that people have.

So we should not make a machine think like a human being.
We should make a machine learn like human beings.

This is what I want finally to say: technology is scary. The first technology revolution caused World War I. The second technology revolution caused, directly or indirectly, World War II. Now we are in the third technology revolution. What if a Third World War happen?

If the human beings do not have the common enemy, we will fight among ourselves. The enemy should be poverty, the enemy should be the environment, the enemy should be a disease. I think that all those countries: China, Russia, USA, Europe, should share the technology, unite together to fight this war, and this is the war that, if we fight it together, young people will be much happier.

… Please pay special attention to the next thirty years. Please, pay special attention to those people who are below 30 years old, because they might be the leaders of tomorrow. They are the challengers, they are the changers. Please, pay attention to those companies who have less than 30 employees. If we pay attention to small, and small is powerful, small is beautiful, and if we pay attention to the young people, small businesses – I think that the world economy could be much more sustainable.”

Jack Ma’s “30-30-30” vision: 30 years, 30 years old and 30 employees, that will make the world much better.

ALIBABA GROUP [BABA] was founded in 1999 by 18 people led by Jack Ma, a former English teacher from Hangzhou, China. The company strives to last at least 102 years, meaning it will have span three centuries, an achievement that few companies can claim. Their culture, business models, and systems are built to last so that they can achieve sustainability in the long run.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author and are not not necessarily either shared or endorsed by iPatriot.com.

Leon Lunsky

Retired marketing professional. Engrossed on creating and developing company market share through effective business analysis and development, brand asset management, and customer relations management, supported by my extensive diverse engineering, marketing, and entrepreneurial experience.

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