Jack Ma, Alibaba founder and the richest man in China, knows how to make his businesses grow. For that, he says, you need to hire the right people.
So, what’s his secret to finding just the precise fit for a company? Hire people who are smarter than you.
At a global economic forum, Ma said that when you hire people who are smarter than you, the company will grow and you will be happy. “Quality number one is that he [the candidate] should be smart. If he is stupid, well, when you’re stupid it cannot be cured. He should be smarter than I am. When I hire people, I hire someone smarter than me and I think ‘In 4-5 years he can be my boss. I would like to work for him’.”
The second most important quality is a good personality. “You should like their personality. [Look for] someone who is positive and who doesn’t give up easily. I look for simple characteristics. I don’t ask for a diploma to see which university they graduated from. That is not that important,” he said.
Degree of separation
In fact, Ma said that none of his core team members hold degrees from wellestablished universities. “People look at the founders of Alibaba and think we are legendary. They say, ‘Wow – you are Alibaba founders, you must be super good’. Honestly, most of us could not find jobs in our early days. We are not that smart. None of us graduated from some great university. But the thing is, we are ready to learn. We believed in the future and if we learned and worked together, and improve, we would get there [sic].”
And finally, past companies or positions don’t impress Ma as much as a good dose of hard work. “The best thing to do is find the right people, work together, train and develop each other. Then you can build a good team. Don’t think ‘Wow that guy used to work in Google or Alibaba or Facebook – he must be good’. Not necessarily,” he concluded.