I don't spend 15 minutes thinking about making money. What is important in my life is influencing many people as well as China's development.
—Jack Ma, CEO, Alibaba
We conclude Discover Your True North by addressing the challenging, often controversial topic of the role of business in our twenty-first-century global society. We are at risk of losing sight of the purpose of business. It is not only to reward shareholders in the near term but also to build sustainable entities that create value for all their constituencies.
Alibaba's Jack Ma has emerged as China's first truly global leader, the face of the new China: a free-enterprise entrepreneur working within the confines of a Communist government to build a more equitable society.
Ma was on fire as we talked over lunch the day that Alibaba launched the largest initial public offering (IPO) in history. Its stock price makes Alibaba the eighteenth-largest global company by market capitalization. Ma's goal isn't making money. Because of Alibaba's success, he is already China's wealthiest citizen, with a $20 billion net worth. Yet when he asked his wife whether it was more important to be wealthy or have respect, they agreed upon respect.
In person, Ma is warm, affable, open, and authentic. For all his success, he is extremely humble, preferring to talk about building a great company that helps customers, creates jobs, and serves society. “I'm just a purist. ...