How can English change your life? The story about a English teacher that become the richest person in China.

I loved this story and can be inspiring for many that are studying English. I hope that people like it. Make your comments below.


Jack did not become successful despite being only an English Teacher he was successful because he was an English Teacher (among other things). Being an English Teacher or rather developing a proficiency in English was a super critical catalyst to his current success.

Jack was born in Hangzhou, Zhejiang a historically noted destination in China known for it's serenity and beauty. A tourist destination.
Starting in his early teenage years Jack would give free english language tours to visitors to Hangzhou's West Lake. This was in the late 1970s early to 1980s when China had just opened up for business. Visitors to China were like Aliens from the future. Jack has daily access to them, could learn from them, here what it was like in the future (outside of China). It might sound funny today but China back then was a very different country on the advancement curve.
Jack kept in touch with a family from Australia who's kids he had gotten along with and in 1985 when he was 19 he was able to spend a long month visiting them in Australia. That trip rocked his life. He had grown up hearing that China was the top country etc. meanwhile seeing a real modern country for the first time opened his eyes but more importantly his mind.
Jack would go on to college at Hangzhou's Teachers University (Now Hangzhou Normal University) where he studied to be a high school English Teacher.
You can imagine how good his english had gotten after 10+ years of practice and learning. In 1995 at the age of 29 he took another trip that would change his life as a Chinese to English interpreter for a trade delegation to Seattle USA. In that trip he saw for the first time the Yahoo Portal and how it connected users to the internet. This forever changed his life and started what would be a long and critical relationship with Yahoo. After that trip he knew he wanted to start an online company in China.
Jack would start China Pages a directory service in China soon after he got back. They formed a failed joint venture with China Telecom one year later in 1996 when Jack was 30.
1999 was a critical year for Jack, now age 34. In 1999 he received funding from Goldman Sachs for his new company Alibaba. Remember this was the early days of eCommerce 1.0 and Goldman had predicted B2B (Business to Business) ecommerce to be a $4.5 trillion market by 2005. At that time I was a fresh grad and consultant visiting Silicon Valley tech companies with services we could sell to large US enterprises. Jack also looked at this market of similar companies and their business models. As I was driving toward Mountain View and visiting companies like Ariba (helps large companies save money on supplies) Jack's vision lead him to another direction. Back to China. Serving a different level of businesses. He had learned that the USA market was very different from China and that the needs of businesses were very different. While Americans B2B companies like Ariba were focused on servicing large enterprises and helping them save money Jack returned to China and set up Alibaba which helped small companies make more money. It was the right formula and the right thing to do based on where China was at that moment in time. It also helped that Zhejiang his home province was home to literally hundreds of thousands of manufacturing merchants.
A year later in 2000 at the age of 34 Jack received an additional and now famous $20M funding from Masayoshi Son cementing what would be another critical foreign relationship for Jack. Masayoshi Son's Softbank also ran Yahoo! Japan.
Today in 2014 Jack is 49 years old and set to IPO his Alibaba Group in the USA. In a way you can say that this is a home coming. A dream continuing where its seeds were planted.

Jack Ma was literally in the future before a billion other Chinese were. He also had an insatiable hunger to improve his lot in life and one top of that was a master communicator and salesman. Give the right person a head start into the future and he will deliver great change. And he was an English Teacher.

English was Jack Ma's key to the future. It was his "open sesame". Magic words that opened up the doors to greater treasures.

Jan 15, 2016 2:33 PM