“If You’re 35 And Poor You Deserve It”

So says Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba.com, which went public last Friday in the biggest IPO in history. His stock, whose largest shareholder is the Billionaire Burner-founded company Yahoo, had a healthy 38% “first day pop”, though it was soon eclipsed by Burner-founded market disruptor Urbanise (ASX:UBN) which managed +50% in its public debut yesterday. A big congratulations to those soon-to-be Billionaire Burners, who hit a home run with this project inspired by using technology to promote better Communal Living and digital Self Reliance.

Jack Ma is a charismatic young leader, and now the richest man in China. If his advice applies to you, you might not like it; and if you’re already successful, you’ll probably agree with him.

Go big or go home: otherwise, you’re wasting your youth.

Jack Ma looking happy at the New York Stock Exchange.

Jack Ma looking happy at the New York Stock Exchange.

this is the face of a man who just made $16 billion.

this is the face of a man who just made $16 billion.


Re-blogged from ZeroHedge:

You are poor because you have no ambition.

by Jack Ma

Jack Ma: Before I founded Alibaba, I invited 24 friends to my house to discuss the business opportunity. After discussing for a full two hours, they were still confused — I have to say that I may not have put myself across in a clear manner manner then. The verdict: 23 out of the 24 people in the room told me to drop the idea, for a multitude of reasons, such as: ‘you do not know anything about the internet, and more prominently, you do not have the start-up capital for this’ etc etc.

There was only one friend (who was working in a bank then) who told me, “If you want to do it, just try it. If things don’t work out the way you expected it to, you can always revert back to what you were doing before.” I pondered upon this for one night, and by the next morning, I decided I would do it anyway, even if all of the 24 people opposed the idea.

Jack Ma founding members

When I first started Alibaba, I was immediately met with strong opposition from family and friends. Looking back, I realised that the biggest driving force for me then was not my confidence in the Internet and the potential it held, but more of this:  “No matter what one does, regardless of failure or success, the experience is a form of success in itself.” You have got to keep trying, and if it doesn’t work, you always can revert back to what you were doing before.

As with this quote by T.E. Lawrence – “All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream in the dark recesses of the night awake in the day to find all was vanity. But the dreamers of day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, and make it possible.”

jack ma serious

Jack Ma: People lose out in life because of these 4 reasons:

  1. Being myopic to opportunity
  2. Looking down on opportunities
  3. Lacking understanding
  4. Failing to act quickly enough

You are poor, because you have no ambition.

Ambition is living a life of great ideals; a magnificent goal in life that must be realised.

In this world, there are things that are deemed unfathomable, but there is nothing in this world that cannot be done. The depth of one’s ambition determines the potential of one’ future.

By way of example:

The Story of Juliet Wu Shihong – one of China’s first-generation professional managers, who gained success by working her way up the ranks from a cleaner, a nurse, a marketing executive, through self-education and learning on the job.


Juliet Wu Shihong


She had been the general manager for the world’s most famous multinational IT groups’ Chinese branches (Microsoft 1985-1998; IBM 1998-1999). She is also China’s first successful international corporate executive to join the executive team of a domestic private firm. Wu was seen as a symbol of the new generation of business executives that China has produced in its economic reform and opening-up.


When Wu started off in a big company working from the lowest ranks, her daily job was to pour tea and sweep floors. Once, because she forgot her staff pass, the company’s guard stopped her at the door and denied her entry. She explained to the guard that she was indeed one of the company’s employees, and that she had merely left the building for a short while to purchase office supplies.


Despite her pleas, the guard still did not allow to enter. As she stood at the gate, she watched as those of similar age to her, but smartly dressed in business attire walking through without having to show their passes.


She asked the guard, “Why are these people allowed through without producing a pass?” The guard dismissed her coldly nonetheless.


That was the turning point for Wu – she felt great shame, her self-esteem trampled on.


She looked at herself, dressed in shabby clothes and pushing a dirty push cart. Looking back at those dressed in smart attire, her heart felt a deep ache from the sudden realization of the sorrow and grief from being discriminated. From that moment, she vowed never to allow herself to be shamed like this again, and to become world-famous.


Since then, she used every opportunity to enrich herself. Every day, she was the first to arrive at work, and the last one to leave. She made every second count, spending her time learning the ropes. Her efforts soon paid off; she was made a sales representative, and quickly progressed to being the regional general manager of this multinational company in China. Wu did not possess strong academic qualifications, and was revered as the ‘Queen of Part-timers’. Subsequently, she assumed the position of GM of IBM China. This is the Wu Shihong, the heroine in China’s business circle.


Juliet Wu Shihong

If not for the incident, Wu Shihong would not have had the ambition to become rich, and her life would have taken a very different path then.


  • You are poor because you do not have the desire to become successful.
  • You are poor because you lack foresight.
  • You are poor because you cannot overcome your cowardice.
  • You are poor because you lack the courage and determination.
  • With ambition you can overcome all inferiority and maximise your potential!
  • With ambition you can persevere, continuously learn new things and strive for perfection.
  • With ambition you can defy all odds, and create miracles when others daren’t.

No matter how poor your family is, do not doubt your own abilities and lose sight of your ambition.

  • When your family deems you worthless, no one will pity you.
  • When your parents do not have money to pay the medical bills, no one will pity you.
  • When you are beaten by your competitors, no one will pity you.
  • When your loved ones abandon you, no one will pity you.
  • When you have not accomplished anything by the time you are 35, no one will pity you.

Go big, or go home. Otherwise, you’re wasting your youth.


39 comments on ““If You’re 35 And Poor You Deserve It”

  1. Pingback: Jack Ma, From Tour Guide To Billionaire, The Inspiring Story Of Alibaba Founder | Viral Sumo

  2. Does Mr Ma mean:
    “A young (wo)man with more bullets than brains who storms in Mr Ma’s house, shoots him and then escapes with Ma’s money would have done great”?

    Strange man…

  3. This entire article rests on the premise that the pursuit of money is the most noble and worthwhile pursuit possible, and that poverty is a reflection not just of different, but inferior priorities. The truth is, in order to have huge amounts of wealth, you have to decide somewhere along the way that your time is more valuable than anyone else’s. His ideal–that everyone could be wildly wealthy by 35 if only they wanted it enough–is literally impossible for everyone to fulfill at once.

    For one person to have disproportionately high resources, others have to have disproportionately low resources. We all know this. There’s a shared, limited pool, and collectively we have enough to feed and care for every human (for the first time in history, or at least a long while) and yet we still act as though “Wolf on Wall Street” excess has no connection to or bearing on starving children, death by curable illness, and all of the wars perpetuating hell on earth for so many people.

    • You need to learn about money. It doesn’t work the way you think it does, it is not a limited pool that we all have to share. Money is debt, and debt is infinitely scaleable.

      Jack Ma is talking about “how to not be poor”, rather than “how to make money”. If you want to stay poor, whether that’s defined by lack of money or lack of ambition or lack of following your dreams, then feel free to do so. To assume that he’s the Wolf of Wall Street just because he took his company public is ridiculous, and indicative of the very real Class War problem Burning Man is now facing.

      • I wonder how Ma categorizes the 1000s of factory workers that his great success depends on. Seriously. Are they merely poor people who didn’t go big in their youth? Should they be criticized for being unambitious?

      • Debt is infinitely scaleable for the people who control the money. Resources are not infinite. They are finite, but enough–if we chose to distribute them sanely. People get to the top of the mountain and suddenly King of the Mountain is the best and fairest game in the world, suddenly it’s reasonable for one person to pay themselves enough disposable income to take care of hundreds of families while somewhere down their own chain of production, workers scrape by on poverty wages.

        No, you’re right. The struggle of millions of people across the world to be paid fairly for an honest day’s work is far less crucial a Class War than the weird looks people at plug-n-play camps get for coming to a festival based on participation, de-commodification and radical inclusion and refusing to participate, contribute in a non-monetary way, or allow the rest of the festival into their camps.

        • I can’t like your comment enough, joycebird. You wrote what I’ve been thinking much more eloquently and succinctly than I have.

  4. jack ma will fit in will with western elites now that he’s espousing neo-liberal bullshit. This self serving belief system would have relegated Christ, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Socrates, etc to the waste bin since they were not materialistically wealthy.

    When will he be attending BM?

  5. The bottom line is, are you happy in life? We all find this in different forms, be it money, power, family, love…I’m currently traveling Southeast Asia and never saw happier people than I have in Laos and in the mountain villages of Vietnam, who are dirt ‘poor’ to western standards but who is to judge? They have everything they need, even if that means they wear dirty clothes, live in a wooden hut with no real floor and have never dreamt of the idea of getting on a plane. Ambition is completely relative and should never be judged based on any one factor in one’s life because you don’t know what that person’s goals in life are, and context is key.

  6. Easy for him to say this stuff. The system is currently tilted to favor the most fortunate among us. Deal is, in a system where wealth distribution is quite polarized and a huge percentage of it is concentrated in a few hands, all the sloganeering preaching from one who is at the top does not do jack shit for the rest of us scrambling for the remaining scraps.

    • There are 3 billion people now connected to the Internet: http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm

      All of the world’s knowledge is at their fingertips. It may be “scraps”, but it’s much more useful scraps than anything that’s been available to the poor at any previous time in history.

      Life’s what you make it, and all of us have the power to make our lot in life different. Often, moving to a new place helps.

      • Yeah let the poor eat cake (or in your terms scraps). All of us may have the power to make our life different and for those of us who realize material acquisitiveness is not the only objective in life or even the main one it’s different. Unfortunately for those buying into the dominant societal beliefs, lusting for money, power,or even a decent standard of living there isn’t a level playing field. The middle class is shrinking world wide, income inequality is rampant, and the materially wealthy continue to add to their balance sheets having very little apparent concern for those beneath them unless they need the poor’s children to die in wars ostensibly promoting democracy but in reality for the purpose of seizing other country’s resources.

        This is neo-liberalism the reigning economic mindset of our time. A very self serving mentality for the well-to-do.

      • Bullshit libertarianism ignores the diversity of skills, sensibilities and talents needed for a fully functioning society to exist. Not everyone can or should be a Jack Ma. What of the many, many people working for him at the “lowest” levels who, without them, Jack Ma could not have his precious company? Are they just lazy and unimaginative? As much as bullshit libertarians and CEOs may want to deny it, there’s a highly symbiotic relationship between low-level workers and management. Can’t have one without the other.

        • which is why Silicon Valley invented Stock Options. There are plenty of low-level workers who became millionaires, at least there used to be. Who knows what happens in all these Millenial companies today, they probably hug each other and tell each other that wealth doesn’t matter, it’s getting along and feeling positive that’s important.

          • I don’t count highly skilled programmers as “low level.” Sure, the occasional admin assistant lucked out, but in general, those lucky stock holders have highly marketable skills, even though they weren’t management.

            I’m talking about blue collar, relatively unskilled labor. I’m talking about companies with 1000s of employees where, even if every one of them had stock options, the sheer numbers would not allow them to obtain much from that. (Not to mention how IPOs actually work, wherein mere employees are locked in just long enough to miss out on any opportunity for profit, while management is usually not so restrained.) Basically, I’m talking about the kind of company that Jack Ma is heading. So it’s odious to me to hear him spout off like this, all the while either willfully or ignorantly oblivious to the symbiotic relationship between management and unskilled labor. And the need for people doing that unskilled labor, work that is important and dignified.

            So in conclusion, fuck Jack Ma. He can go curl up with Ayn Rand and disappear into his own asshole.

  7. Classic example of survivor bias, the conditions he lists may be necessary to “success” (as he sees it) but they are not sufficient. You can probably easily find thousands of people who demonstrate all the qualities he lauds who have not made it (so to speak).

    I don’t begrudge anyone who worked hard at building a business and cashed in. I do begrudge their lack of understanding that luck played into it and how much they had a direct influence in their success. And I really begrudge them looking down on the less fortunate as deserving the fate they have.

    • I think his point is that poor people are often there because of the 4 reasons he outlines – all to do with choice, rather than fate.
      The Indians believe in a caste system, where if you are born as a shit-scrubber, that’s all you can ever be. I believe in the American Dream – which now looks like the Chinese Dream too – that with hard work and some vision, you can create any life for yourself that you want. Sure, fate plays a part, but even if you are down-trodden because that’s your fate, or you had a run of bad luck, you can rise above it and make something of yourself. Success doesn’t have to be in monetary terms, but put someone successful next to someone who’s a loser in life and it will be pretty easy to spot who’s who. Success is better.

      • The so-called American dream and now Chinese dream will doom the planet. Economic systems based upon infinite growth on a planet of finite resources cannot and will not ultimately work. This is one of the most glaring blind spots in the world today. Waste, pollution, inequality, irreversible global warming, and non-stop war will be the legacy as the avaricious powers that be fight over ever dwindling resources. We’re in deep shit and thinking that more of the same is going to fix the problem is idiotic at best.

        Unfortunately those infected with this insanity rule humanity, control the air waves, and have brainwashed the majority with their ignorance and stupidity. God help us.

        • Before Malthus ever came along with his stupid ideas about scarcity, which have turned out to be very convenient justifications for the Club of Rome to apply invisible mass population control technologies to “limit growth”, resources were so abundant on this planet that they literally grew on trees. Fruits and vegetables could provide food without any refining required. Shelter and warmth could come from trees, a renewable resource.
          We already grow enough food to support the world’s population almost doubling. Most of it gets thrown out. We already have sources of energy that are abundant and operate without polluting.
          Avaricious powers controlling the airwaves and brainwashing the populace seems to me a much bigger problem for humanity than lack of resources.
          The petrodollar system of perpetual war is more about NOT extracting the oil from the ground, than providing cheap energy to everyone or scrambling to get the last few barrels before it’s all gone forever.

  8. This does not have to be looked on as only in regards to money. Every man values “wealth” or being “Rich” differently. Wealth to one person might be love, health, friendships, etc. If you are “poor” in those following things, his tips are 100% right on. Re-read his tips in the following way “You are poor (in relationships) because you do not have the desire to become successful. You are poor (in relationships) because you lack foresight. You are poor (in relationships) because you cannot overcome your cowardice. You are poor (in relationships) because you lack the courage and determination”.

    “Ambition is living a life of great ideals; a magnificent goal in life that must be realised (sic)”. One should have great ambition and goals in having great wealth in whatever it is that they deem meaningful and if they do not, then perhaps yes, they lack ambition.

    • I can only imagine the deep puzzlement of this forum’s moderator at your statement and can see him , similar to an android on an old episode of Star Trek, vacant eyed and repeating infinitely ‘that does not compute, that does not compute,…’

  9. He is right, I am a pathetic piece of shit and now getting down to the last of my money. I see no point in working for slave wages (defined as earning only enough to cover my room and board, but nothing more, which is basically the same amount slaves get paid) and I do not see the point of this life any more. I did my time here, I exerted a lot of time effort attempting to make many good ideas work , but nothing ever worked out as it was planned, it seems odd to me, but it is my fault and I take responsibility for me apparently just being a fuck up, and I am weary of this, which is why when the last of my money runs out in a week or so, I am going to blow my brains out. I wish there was a place like in “Soylent Green” where I could do it easy, fast and sure, but there isn’t, so a 12 gauge will have to do. I have never taken any government aid and I have been homeless, and I never will. Thanks for the advice, he is right, I am a failure, fuck this world, see ya on the other side.

    • Monte please tell me your post was a grave over exaggeration to prove a point? My perspective is that if you are feeling this way in your life, perhaps you’re in the wrong society. The capitalistic environment is not for everyone, and there are much greener simpler pastures abroad!

  10. Truth hurts. Inward reflection isn’t fun, but it leads to change, whatever your definition of success. Jack Ma is right.

  11. So interesting to witness the explosion of the capitalistic mindset in China. This article is horrifying. It is the antithesis of everything Burning Man could be about. Yes, I say “could be”…as I realize this whole human experiment contains within it, each and every possible shadow side. The only driving force for Jack Ma is profit…at whatever cost to the masses…and all his proclamations and thin veiled quotes cannot override this reality.

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