Alibaba CEO Jack Ma reveals the one thing that’s more important than working for a big company

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Alibaba billionaire and business sage Jack Ma is known for dishing out wisdom on occasion. This time, in front of a younger audience, he revealed a general timetable for gaining business experience as well as what young people who aspire to work for big companies should seek instead.

Here’s an excerpt from his interview:

Before 20 years old, be a good student. If possible, get some work experience.

“Before 30 years old, follow somebody. Go to a small company. Normally in a big company, it’s good to learn processing. You are part of a big machine. But when you go to a small company, you learn the passion. You learn the dreams. You learn how to do a lot of things at one time.”

“So, before 30 years old, it’s not which company you go, it’s which boss you follow. It’s very important. A good boss will teach you a differently.

From 30 to 40 years old, you have to think very clearly — you work for yourself if you want to be an entrepreneur.

“When you are 40 to 50 years old, you have to do all the things you are good at. Don’t try to drop into new areas. It’s too late. You may be successful, but the rate of dying is too big. So 40 to 50, think about how you can focus on things that you are good at.

“But when you are 50 to 60 years old, work for young people because young people can do better than you. So rely on them, invest in them and make sure they are good.

“When you are over 60 years old, spend time for yourself. On the beach, sunshine. It’s too late for you to change.”

Ma also revealed that his biggest regrets are being a famous billionaire, because it took his privacy away, and that he wished he could spend more time with his family.

How two penniless Korean immigrants launched an apparel empire now worth billions


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This is a story of success. This is the unbelievable rags-to-riches story of how Do Won “Don” Chang and his wife, Jin Sook, immigrated from Korea to California with nearly nothing, how Chang had to hold down three demeaning jobs at the same time to support his family, and how they opened up their first fashion-forward store, which, three decades later, has become a coveted international brand with 600 stores in the U.S. and overseas bringing in around $4.4 billion in sales each year.

That company is Forever 21, the No. 1 brand favored by millennial “it girls,” beating out heavy hitters such as Sephora and H&M in a recent Teen Vogue-Goldman Sachs poll.

From Rags to Riches

Chang, 57, and Sook, 53, moved to the states from Korea in 1981. Chang worked as a gas station attendant, janitor and coffee shop waiter to make ends meet. According to a Business Insider profile on the dynamic duo, they were broke, had no college degrees and spoke broken English. They had planned to go into the coffee business until Chang noticed something that would change their lives. Chang, in a 2010 interview with the Los Angeles Times, said:

“I noticed the people who drove the nicest cars were all in the garment business.”

They had only been settled in the Los Angeles area for three years before that observation became a reality. In 1984, the Changs decided to open their first clothing store, which they called “Fashion 21,” in a 900-square-foot space in Highland Park, which is about five minutes north of downtown Los Angeles. They took in a measly $35,000 upon opening, but sales jumped to $700,000 by the end of their first year. That success led Chang to go out on a strategic limb by opening up new stores every six months in different locations across the U.S. and renaming their chain “Forever 21.”

Somehow the husband-and-wife team found more success with each opening. Today, there are over 600 stores worldwide that employ more than 34,000 workers. The Chang’s personal net worth is estimated to be around $6.1 billion. That high net worth is perhaps due to the fact that the Changs own 100% of Forever 21.

The chain remains a family business, with Chang holding the CEO position while Jin Sook approves the company’s merchandise designs as chief merchandising officer. Daughter Esther manages the company’s visuals while daughter Linda is in charge of marketing.

Forever 21’s Recipe for Success

koreanWhy is Forever 21 so successful? The company keeps prices low. It lives up to its motto, “Shop Chic Styles for Less,” by continually updating its merchandise to remain fashion forward. As Chang put it:

“We keep changing. We are always thinking about [the] customer, not just for the company. That’s why we are successful.”

It’s hard to pull off, but Forever 21 has remained relevant and popular in a fickle environment where trends quickly go out of fashion, often just after they’ve taken off. Chang adds:

“Women’s fashion is very difficult because it is changing everyday. Fashion changes so fast, so time is the most important thing. If you are too late, you are too late. If you are too early, you are too early. So timing is very important.”

So is being grateful. Chang might be a billionaire now, but he’s always been grounded and aware of how he got here, as well as where he came from. He told the LA Times:

“Forever 21 gives hope to people who come here with almost nothing. And that is a reward that humbles me: the fact that immigrants coming to America, much like I did, can come into a Forever 21 and know that all of this was started by a simple Korean immigrant with a dream.”

Six Japanese business terms you already know, even if you didn’t realize it

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We’ve talked before about handy Japanese words and phrases we wish we could toss around in English. This kind of linguistic jealousy doesn’t flow in just one direction, though. Japanese businesspeople regularly make use of a number of English phrases, either because they’re more concise, precise, or just sound cooler to their ears than their Japanese counterparts.

Sometimes, though, knowing English isn’t enough to understand these loanwords, since their pronunciations can get pretty garbled in the transition from English to Japanese speakers. Feeling confident in your ability to translate English translated into Japanese back into English? Read on and see how many you can decipher.

As a quick primer on how the pronunciation of English loanwords gets corrupted, it’s important to remember two things about the Japanese language. First, there are a handful of sounds that just don’t exist in Japanese, most famously “l,” but also “v,” “si,” “du,” and “th,” to name a few.

Second, with a few exceptions such as “cha,” “tsu,” and “shi,” and combinations with “n,” you can’t have two consecutive consonants in a single syllable, meaning that each consonant always comes with a vowel sound attached to it. Combined with the complete lack of certain sounds we mentioned above, this is why, for example, technology giant Apple gets pronounced “Appuru” in Japanese (the double ‘p’ indicates a delay a fraction of a second long before the second syllable, in case you were wondering).

Okay, no more hints. It’s time to get this quiz started!

1. agurii

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Starting off with an easy one, this is “agree.” For example, when asked his opinion regarding an offer, your Japanese coworker might give his stance as agurii. Sadly, this one can cause confusion amongst lower-level Japanese English speakers as “agree,” “ugly,” and even “angry” all sound remarkably similar to their ears.

2. komitto

If whoever’s calling the shots is ready to agurii, he’ll probably let his counterparts know that he’s ready to komitto, or “commit” to the project. Once again, the double consonant here denotes a pause a fraction of a second long before that particular syllable. Try tokomitto that rule to memory, ne.

3. konsensasu

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Of course, a cornerstone of Japanese workplace harmony is making sure everyone in the organization is on the same page, which is why business deals tend to take longer here than in many Western countries. Odds are, even if the person you spoke to in the meeting seemed enthusiastic about your offer, before he can komitto he’ll have to go back to his office and make sure there’s a konsensasu (“consensus”) among the rest of his coworkers.

4. regyureeshon

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Of course, no matter how good the proposal sounds, it’s always necessary to make sure your business dealings are all above-board. To that end, you’ll want to research any relevant regyureeshon, or “regulations” (which loses its terminal “S” because Japanese vocabulary doesn’t differentiate between singular and plural nouns).

5. konpuraiansu

Of course, just reading and familiarizing yourself with the regyureeshon isn’t enough. You’ll also need to check the items of the contract against them to make sure everything is in a state of konpuraiansu (“compliance”). Why is compliance written in Japanese with an “n” and not an “m”? Like we said, all Japanese consonants except “n” come with a vowel attached, so if they’d used an “m” , or rather a “mu“, the already vowel-packed word would have ended up being komupuraiansu. Yikes.

6. besuto efooto

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Finally, if everything checks out, once you sign the contract and it’s time to get to work, it’s imperative that every member of the team give his or her besuto efooto/best effort.

After all, in the modern, competitive marketplace, that’s the only way to succeed in business, or bijinesu, as the Japanese call it.

Heard any other borrowed business words in office Japanese? Let us know in the comments section below!

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are cutting Into Samsung’s profits

Image of The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are Cutting Into Samsung's Profits

Tech giant Samsung announces that it expects to receive weaker than projected profit margins for the third quarter. Reporting an operating profit of just under $4 billion USD for the current quarter, which is a significant drop off from the $7 billion USD earned last quarter, Samsung blames a decline in average selling price of its mobile phones as a key reason to the drop in earnings.

This speculation comes at a time when the company faces stiff competition from other tech firms — such as Chinese startup Xiaomi — that offer Android capabilities through much cheaper alternative mobile devices. Key competitor Apple has also just released the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, contributing to increased competition amongst Samsung’s larger-screened high-end phones.

Luckily for Samsung, its lead in memory chips is expected to aid the blow from poor mobile phone sales. With Christmas and the gifting season fast approaching, stay tuned to see if profits fickle as the year comes to an end.


Former Apple employee Sam Sung has sage advice for setting yourself apart in business

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Sam Sung made headlines back in 2012 when his Apple business card went viral on the internet. People simply found it hilarious that an Apple employee could bear the name of the company’s biggest competitor.





Putting his fame to good use, Sung decided to put his last business card up for auction on eBay, with all proceeds going to charity. The card was recently sold to the highest bidder at $2,653. The money will be going to The Children’s Wish Foundation, an organization that focuses on helping children with serious illnesses.

Currently, Sam Sung works marketing and operations at Holloway Shulz & Partners. He also is an advisor and mentor at The Graduate Advocate, a company that offers graduates-to-be and new graduates free advice on networking, resume writing, and business strategies.

I recently had the pleasure of catching up with Sam Sung over email. Here, we discuss what truly matters in succeeding in business and how millennials can set themselves apart in this tough job market.


In your Linkedin profile, you state that you care about reputation more than revenue. Care you elaborate?

The industry I’m in is typically known for being very competitive and driven only by commissions. I like to do good business at a good price and treat people well. I do my best to follow up with candidates, especially if we’re not moving forward with them. Full disclosure is a good policy too. I also turn away business if requested to discriminate on age, gender, ethnicity, etc etc. some businesses out there think they can get away with it if they partner with a 3rd party recruitment firm. That shit does not fly with me.


After your stint with Apple, you went on to work at Holloway Schulz & Partners. Tell us a little bit about what you do over there.

Essentially I’m a recruiter – or headhunter as some people call it. This involves partnering with companies who are searching for specific talents or skills in the market but can’t find them or require some extra manpower. We also work with people who are currently in positions who are passively searching for new opportunities.


What made you want to auction off your last card for charity? Where did your passion for philanthropy come from?

The idea came into my head after the card fell out of a book I was reading. My dad was the one who inspired me; he used to sponsor local soccer teams so they could buy their uniforms and during the recession he partnered with our local MP to arrange complimentary meals to struggling families on Christmas day.


You graduated with a BA in marketing, how useful was your college experience for you when it came to applying it to real life situations?

My degree definitely gave me a solid foundation and I’m very grateful for the Scottish education system. I also had some wonderfully patient professors considering I was a bit of a hothead [still am to be fair].


Does this mean you believe college is mandatory for young aspiring entrepreneurs?

Definitely not – and especially not in this day and age where teenagers are starting profitable companies from their computer at home. If you are lucky enough to have access to college and higher education then I endorse it completely but I also appreciate that there are so many individuals doing amazing thing out there who don’t have a college background.


As an advisor to young graduates, what are the biggest things they commonly don’t get when it comes to business or entrepreneurship?

I do my best to share what I can do new graduates, even though I was one only a few years ago. Some challenges I’ve noticed a lot of graduates don’t get is:

Most degrees mean fuck all. It’s your work experience or network that counts.

Ideas mean fuck all too unless you can execute them.

Your network is your net worth. Invest in your relationships early and work hard to maintain them.


What are some things newly graduates can do to set themselves apart in this tough job market?

Handwrite someone a note. Ask to exchange ideas about a company or industry. Make sure you have a LinkedIn profile with a professional picture [no fuckin’ selfies] so that when you’re looked up, you look legit.

Handwritten notes have an 80% response rate and can turn cold calls into lukewarm calls.


What about for the ones currently in college, but haven’t graduated? What do you think they should be doing as they discover their true passions in life and what they want to do as a career?

To those currently in college, don’t expect to immediately walk into a career after uni – it takes time and investing in your network.

If you have Facebook, everyone’s will always doing better than you. Chill out and don’t let it affect your self-esteem too much.


What are your long terms goals? Do you want to start your own company at some point in your life?

Long term goals? Become an industry touch point for professionals and businesses. To play a part in growing businesses in Canada and lowering the unemployment rate. I recruit for business development, sales and marketing positions in BC. My thought process is if I help companies source the strong revenue generators for their company, they company will grow and continue to hire. Thus, by helping companies drive revenue, more jobs will be created.

I’d like to be in a position one day where I can spend 1/3 of my salary, save 1/3 and donate 1/3.

My own company? Absolutely. Will it be called Sam Sung Inc? Probably not.


Follow Sam Sung on Twitter @ayesamsung and Linkedin.


Samsung estimates that its operating profit dropped to $7.8 billion in Q4


Samsung Galaxy S 4

Samsung may have had a record-setting summer, but it wasn’t able to repeat that achievement in the fall. The Korean tech giant estimates that its operating profit dropped to about 8.3 trillion won ($7.8 billion) in the fourth quarter, or lower than both the 8.84 trillion won ($8.3 billion) from one year ago and the 10.16 trillion won ($9.6 billion) from Q3. Samsung didn’t say what triggered the dip, but the forecast isn’t helping concerns that the company’s red-hot growth in smartphones may be cooling down. It’s not exactly crisis time at Samsung — the company generates more operating profit in a quarter than many of its mobile rivals do in total revenue.

Still, we suspect that it’s happy to be launching a slew of new gadgets that could make up for the underwhelming earnings.

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Samsung estimates that its operating profit dropped to $7.8 billion in Q4