On February 21, 1999, Jack Ma made a presentation to 17 of his closest friends in his Hangzhou, China apartment. He asked them to believe in him, and invest in his new business. Unfortunately, a review of Jack’s past revealed a string of hapless failures.
As a young man, Jack had failed in coursework and exit exams at school. He applied to his favorite universities numerous times, and was never accepted. Later, he applied to 30 different jobs, and was rejected every time… in one case, Jack was the only person not accepted out of dozens of people. Along the way, he attempted two different business ventures, failing at both.
Though most people might have been dissuaded by so many rejections, Jack was determined, and in 1995 he decided he would create China’s first eCommerce company. Despite all of his previous failures, there he was standing in his apartment, asking his friends to invest in this new company.
Jack spent hours describing his vision to friends, who were well aware of his failures, but they also saw his level of determination. In the end, all 17 friends invested a total of $60,000 in Jack’s new company… and for one reason: Jack trusted that he could make it hugely successful.
Jack, and his friends, were right. Over the next decade, Jack built what would become the world’s largest eCommerce company. Today, Alibaba is worth over $180 billion. But it would never have existed if Jack Ma had let any of his failures break his trust in himself. Instead, he let his belief that he would find a way define him.