SPECIAL NOTE: I am not Jack Ma, one of the 18 male founders of the world famous e-commerce company Alibaba!. But reading his story about his desire to RETURN TO THE CLASSROOM and be a humble poor teacher reminds me of my own life, and my pursuit of classroom teaching. I had 3 dreams in my life, having grown up a poor farm boy in a village somewhere in the jungles of Malaya (now Malaysia). After I worked hard to get scholarships to study in USA, and when I settled down in USA as an international student, I was obsessed with 3 dreams or ambitions or plans! 1. Be a TV late night host like Johnny Carson. 2. Be an author. 3. Be a college professor. During my difficult years in USA, I achieved my 2nd dream and have now written 6 books (2 are textbooks for students who want to study English in Chinese universities in China and the 2 books are only available in mainland China for university students). All the other 4 books are, my nephew told me, now available at Thriftbooks.com (all the 4 books in English). Amazon.com carries only 3 books (Growing up Chinese, This is China, and Crazy Americans). The author Stephen Ling. My 3rd dream came true, beyond all expectations, when I was invited to be a visiting professor in China 2008-2014 and I started writing my 6th book THIS IS CHINA during my last year in mainland China. For years as I lived and mingled with Americans (almost all my dear friends in America are white people) I was sad to discover that most Americans do not care about mainland China, land of my immediate ancestors (Grandpa and his family migrated to Malaya and Singapore around 1903 to escape extreme poverty, starvation and social unrest in China and I was born in Malaya). When I started my life in America, at first it was easy because I was a scholalarship student. Like everything else in life…I too was trying to define the American Dream for myself. I was lucky to be introduced to the world of grocery business when I was still a college student. Naturally after my master degree, I decided to MAKE MONEY MONEY MONEY, to achieve an aspect of my American Dream. Very soon, I was not happy with making money money money, and I realised I was not going after my real dream…to be a teacher, a college professor. Yes, I made lots of money, saved the money, bought my first little cottage in an expensive part of Austin while a college student…and invested to make money! Yes, I had to return to the classroom to pursue Journalism and Economics at the University of Texas…Soon, I worked briefly at a Catholic university in Austin, then moved to Washington state for the sake of the cool weather in the Pacific Northwest. I have been here since the end of 80s…the best place in the world, God’s paradise on earth. I love the climate in this part of the United States, not hot not cold, 12 months a year! What I am trying to say is this: I understand why Jack Ma wants to return to the classroom…if this is your destiny or fate, you cannot run away from it…I tried to run away to make money, but money is not what I wanted in my life. Since my 7 years as a visiting professor in mainland China, I continue to support students in China who want to further their education…one doing phd in Economics at Brown, USA, another phd in Mechanical Engineering in Polythnic U, Hong Kong, another phd in HIV or Aids research in a Japanese university, one a student pursuing to become an urologist in a medical school in central China, etc etc etc…my legacy in China because A TEACHER WILL ALWAYS BE A TEACHER…you cannot escape your destiny! And today I continue to help many students via the Internet with their spoken and written English…everything at our finger tips! Good luck to you Mr Jack Ma, I hope your dream school HARVARD UNIVERSITY will invite you to be a professor at this distinguished university, which you had alluded to many times, being rejected as a student! You have the money to take over the whole Business School of Harvard U, if you want! Now you have the means to start your own University in China to compete with Harvard U! What a thought, I am happy for you, Mr Jack Ma! Steve, USA, September 10, 2018 email@example.com wechat 1962816801
Would rather die on the beach than in my office’: how Jack Ma sees his retirement, in his own words
Ma famously said last year that his ‘happiest moment in life was making just 91 yuan (US$13.26) per month as a poor schoolteacher’
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 September, 2018 Yujing Liu SCMP
Chinese billionaire Jack Ma has shaken the global tech industry and beyond by revealing plans to step down from his role as executive chairman at Alibaba Group Holding, the most valuable company in Asia, in one year from Monday.
In a letter to staff members, Ma cited his reason as giving way to younger generations to take over the tech juggernaut, which also owns the South China Morning Post.
An eloquent and animated public speaker who has attracted a large following with inspirational speeches, the tech mogul has talked about his retirement plans with candour and humour at various events over the past few years.
The self-made billionaire has also spoken of his dissatisfaction with his busy life and his longing to become a teacher once again.
Here is how Ma envisions his retirement, in his own words.
“Die on the beaches, not in the office”
Ma has repeatedly talked about his hectic travel schedule since retiring as chief executive officer of Alibaba to become executive chairman.
“When I retired from the CEO position, I told the CEO team (in 2013) I should have more time playing golf on the beach.
“But I find, oh my God, spent 870 hours in the air last year, and this year, 1,000 hours,” said Ma, in an interview with American talk show host Charlie Rose at a conference in Detroit in June 2017.
“The thing is, I don’t want to die in my office. I want to die on the beach.”
While Ma is no longer in charge of managing Alibaba’s daily operation, he remains the company’s public face, travelling the world to meet heads of governments and preach on the benefits of globalisation and technological advancement.
Video clips showing a tired Ma dozing off at a conference made the rounds on social media in January.
Social media users found out he was sitting in the audience at a forum about artificial intelligence, after attending a public event in Hong Kong at 10pm the day before and meeting with the French president in the morning.
“Regret founding Alibaba”
As Alibaba has grown into one of the world’s most valuable companies, joining the ranks of Apple, Microsoft and Amazon, Ma has remarked about his mixed feelings towards the company he co-founded in 1999.
He famously said his “biggest mistake was I made Alibaba”, because of the enormous pressure and responsibility he has had to shoulder to steer the US$420 billion company with more than 86,000 employees.
“I was just trying to do a small business and [not] grow that big, take that many responsibilities and get so much trouble.
“Every day is like being as busy as a president, and I don’t have any power. I don’t have my life,” Ma said at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum in June 2016.
“If I still can have a next life, I will never do a business like this. I will be my own self; I want to enjoy my life,” he continued.
To head such a company also requires political awareness and calculation, as maintaining a good relationship with the government is vital to a large company’s success in China.
Ma has also become increasingly fluent in the Communist Party lingo over the years, having held lectures about the party’s principles and visited historic sites related to the party’s revolution in Yan’an, Shaanxi province.
Passion for teaching
Ma has brought up his longing to return to teaching multiple times in public. He said on a talk show last year that his “happiest moment in life was when I was making just 91 yuan (US$13.26) per month as a poor schoolteacher”.
Ma taught English at a college in China’s eastern city of Hangzhou for six years after graduating from Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute in 1988. He outperformed his peers with lively classes and humorous teaching, and was recognised as one of the “10 outstanding young teachers” at the school in 1994.
“I was never trained in commerce, never been an accountant or programmer. The only thing I do is to learn and share. I work as an entrepreneur in the same way as being a teacher,” Ma told a conference in November.
Ma often referred to himself as the “Chief Education Officer” of Alibaba, and said he would like the next generation of executives to replace him just like “a teacher always wants the students to exceed himself”.