How many times did Jack Ma Apply to Harvard?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba.

How many times did Jack Ma Apply to Harvard?

There’s word out that Jack Ma applied to Harvard over 10 times, but he was never admitted to the school. He was also rejected by 30 job opportunities, including manual work at a restaurant, before starting his billion dollar startup in Alibaba.

But the path to superstardom certainly wasn’t easy.

Jack Ma is a sharp, shrewd businessman with a grand vision and relentless ambition to see his idea to fruition. He learned English by riding his bicycle for 70 miles giving visitors a tour guide at hotels in Hangzhou.

A beautiful scenery of Hangzhou, West Lake

To be honest, he wasn’t given much in life. He recently had an interview with Elon Musk and many saw that he didn’t have the intellectual capacity to debate with the great Elon.

A lot of his words got lost in translation as he wasn’t able to express his thoughts in English very well. His viewpoints were controversial but you can’t expect someone of his magnitude to think like everyone else. Judge a man by his actions, not by his words. Words can fool you, but actions can’t.

We can tell you a man who has accomplished so much with so little certainly has an intelligence that is beyond even our understanding. Others said he came across as arrogant, but if you were in his position, you’d think most people would be too.

So how do you measure intelligence?

Is it your ability to do complicated math problems? Or is it your ability lead and empower others? Or is intelligence defined by your brain’s ability to withstand obstacles and challenges?

Jack Ma smiling and waiving in public.

The truth is that there are many different forms of intelligence. And you don’t necessarily need to be the greatest mathematician or engineer in the room to start a billion-dollar company. Nor do you need to get into Harvard to taste the fruits of success you’ve always dreamed of.

In fact, we would venture to say that most entrepreneurs came from the humanities. Because it forces you to think about the why and how behind how the world works, how human beings are incentivized to act and function, and why things are the way they are. And understand the philosophical, economic, and psychological forces at stake.

Not whether you’re trying to figure out why line 2785 of your code isn’t working in your text editor.

Harvard Business School didn’t admit Jack Ma. In fact, he was rejected from HBS 10x. Maybe HBS needs to create a better value system of admitting candidates because they missed out on an extraordinary entrepreneur.


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