3 things Richard Branson learnt from Jack Ma over lunch

Richard Branson had lunch with Jack Ma recently. Picture: Getty Images

Virgin boss Richard Branson had lunch with Alibaba founder Jack Ma recently.

He blogged about it a couple of days ago, and surprisingly, for someone as successful as Branson and willing to share his knowledge in several autobiographies, he can still learn a few things.

“We sat down over breakfast and he told me his story, which was filled with so many useful and amusing lessons that I barely had time to eat, I was scribbling down so many notes,” Branson wrote.

Branson says he wakes up every morning “looking forward to what I am going to learn that day”.

You can check out the full story of his lunch with Ma here, but here’s 3 lessons we pulled which, if they’re good enough for Branson, they’re good enough for anyone.

Work practically, even after you get your qualifications

Even after completing his further education, Ma continued to work as a guide in China, interacting with locals and tourists.

He began to develop his own views on capitalism and entrepreneurship and saw the web as the future of business — he even tried to register the name Internet!

Ask forgiveness — not permission

The first time Ma went to Davos, he learnt about online payments and how they were illegal in China.

…he decided to go ahead and start investigating them for his business anyway. To begin with they made no money, but after a while started getting positive feedback and knew he was on the right track.

Don’t hire the most qualified, hire the craziest

Ma hires people based on personal connections.

That sounds a smart strategy to me. You need people with different ideas to make a company tick, not just a bunch of yes men.

Talk about a power lunch.

More stories from Richard Branson’s blog:

The biggest challenges and opportunities of the next decade

Don’t believe your doubters, prove them wrong

Don’t take yourself too seriously

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