Leadership

Billionaire Jack Ma wants to 'die on a beach,' not his office — science says you should, too

Alibaba Group Chairman Jack Ma attends 2018 Alibaba Xin Philanthropy Conference on September 5, 2018.
Visual China Group | Getty Images
Alibaba Group Chairman Jack Ma attends 2018 Alibaba Xin Philanthropy Conference on September 5, 2018.

Jack Ma has said he wants to die on a beach, not his office. That day might not come for some time, thanks to his recent decision to retire from Alibaba. According to new research, there's an important connection between taking time off and living longer.

In one of the longest follow-up studies in the world, researchers found that vacations can prolong your life. In fact, hard-driving executives live longer when they take vacations than when they don't, despite healthy lifestyles.

According to the findings, the longer one vacations, the more longevity improves. In the study, those who vacationed for 3 weeks or more each year lived longer than those who vacationed for 3 weeks or less.

Stopping smoking and eating better will not compensate for working too hard and not taking your holidays, University of Helsinki professor Timo Strandberg said at this year's European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress. "Vacations can be a good way to relieve stress."

Ma was surprised that his life did not slow down once he stepped down as Alibaba CEO in 2013 and stayed on as its chairman. Ma thought that he would "have more free time to play golf on the beach." But he was wrong. Instead, he spent hundreds of hours more traveling for work than he expected.

Even today, as chairman, Ma said, "I don't have time to spend on the beach," but he looks forward to the days when he can. Ma's return to the teaching field comes years after he admittedly stumbled into the role of businessman.

"My biggest mistake was that I made Alibaba. I never thought this thing would change my life," Ma said at the 20th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

"I was just trying to run a small business, and it grew that big, it took that much responsibility and brought about so much trouble," he continued, adding that he missed having a life of his own.

In a future life, Ma would avoid creating a business as big as Alibaba: "I want to be my own self, and I want to enjoy my life." He has even said that the "happiest moment" of his life was back when he made under $20 a month as a poor school teacher.

As Ma looks forward to returning to education and entering philanthropy full-time, he plans to teach others about the simple things in life like how to become successful and even appreciating wine.

Imagining his future, Ma recently said, "In my 80s or 90s, maybe I'm on the beach, I listen to the radio, and the news says that Alibaba does wonderfully. I will be profoundly happy."

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