Entrepreneurs

Why Alibaba's Jack Ma doesn't want you to be like him

Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group in Shanghai China on Dec. 5th, 2017.
Justin Solomon | CNBC

Alibaba's Jack Ma may be considered one of the leading lights of the business world.

But he doesn't want you to try and replicate his success. In fact, when people hold his name in such esteem, it makes him "sort of sad," the Chinese billionaire said Thursday.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum on Thursday, Ma said he felt his name has become an electronic "IP" address, laden with predetermined expectations. But that's not the full picture.

"When I mention Jack Ma, you've got your own definition, but that's not me entirely," said the 54-year-old entrepreneur.

"For me, I'm still an ordinary person who was born and raised in Hangzhou (China), " he continued, in comments that were translated by CNBC.

Ma said he appreciated the admiration, but he doesn't consider himself "legendary" or "someone of significance" — and rather than follow him, people should try to carve their own way.

"We need to know about other people. But, more importantly, we need to know about ourselves," said the former teacher, who has since set up his own university for e-commerce merchants.

"This, I think, is the essence of education," said Ma. "Being you, not being Jack Ma."

"Don't imitate anybody; just be yourself. That's very important."

WATCH: Forget 9-to-5. Four hour workdays are the future, says Jack Ma

VIDEO0:3900:39
Forget 9-to-5. Four hour workdays are the future, says Jack Ma
Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group in Shanghai China on Dec. 5th, 2017.
Justin Solomon | CNBC
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