Alibaba’s World – Porter Erisman

Alibaba's World by Perter Erisman

The cover of Alibaba’s World by Perter Erisman

“I wanted to get some real life experience. Whether I succeeded or failed was not important. Because I knew I could always take that experience back to share with my students.” – Jack Ma, an English teacher in China, when he decided to start a business.

Jack Ma is now the Chairman of Alibaba.com,the world’s largest business-to-business e-commerce site. The Alibaba Group had the largest IPO in history when they floated on the New York Stock Exchange for $220 Billion in September 2014.

Alibaba’s World by Porter Erisman is the story of how an English Teacher in China built Alibaba, the world’s largest e-commerce company.

This is what I learned from Alibaba’s World by Porter Erisman:

  • Have a clear and simple vision because setting a long term goal changes people’s mindsets.
  • From day one Alibaba had three main goals:

    • To be one of the top 10 websites in the world.
    • To be a partner to all business people
    • To build a company that lasts 80 years

    Jack Ma gave a speech at a conference in Europe and only 3 people turned up: “Don’t worry. When we come back here this place will be totally full.”

  • Business is a fun game. When he received his first email from Jack, Porter Erisman’s knew he was in for a great adventure. It read: “I’ll see you in Shanghai. Let’s go have some fun!!!” And years later when Alibaba were competing with eBay in China Jack goes, “Our war is just a fun competition with eBay. We are lucky to have a big competitor like eBay. This is a game! It’s a sport!”
  • “Today is tough, tomorrow is tougher, and the day after tomorrow is beautiful. But most die tomorrow evening and can’t see the sunshine on the day after tomorrow.” 


I loved this book. It’s here if you like:

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Why I Want To Be The Best (and why I want to work for Toptal)

There are many reasons to be the best. Here are my top 5.

1. Work on Interesting Problems

I love thinking about and working on cool problems. And the best way for me to be selected to look at these problems is to be excellent at what I do.

2. Meet the Most Interesting People

People who are awesome at their work tend to be awesome people in general. Being the best means I’ll work with these people and make fantastic friends!

3. Design My Lifestyle

The more valuable I am to my employer, the more flexible my work and lifestyle arrangements will be. Being the best means I can live and work from anywhere.

4. Receive Remuneration

People are paid in proportion to the difficulty of the problems they solve. Being the best means I get paid the most.

5. Improve My Happiness

Doing my best makes me feel happy!


This is why I want to join The Toptal Software Freelancers Group. Toptal only hire the top 3% of freelance developers. Working for Toptal means I’ll be working with the best people on the most interesting problems.

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Made in America – Sam Walton

Made in America - Sam Walton

Sam Walton (The founder of Wal-Mart) opened a department store in a small town in Arkansas in 1962. Now Wal-Mart is worth more than $230 billion (and his family is worth more than $140 billion). His story and his strategy are laid out in this book.

This is what I learnt from Made in America by Sam Walton:

  • Get involved in everything. I really think this seems to be a common trait among successful people.
  • Be humble enough to learn from everybody. When Sam Walton was running his first store in Arkansas, he spent lots of time in his competitor’s store across the street. And as Wal-Mart was growing larger and larger, Sam and his team would always be trying to learn from employees in the stores to find new ideas for the company.
  • The value of missed opportunities. Sam Walton says, “A computer can tell you to the dime what you’ve sold. But it can never tell you how much you could have sold.”

So many people have never heard of this book, which I find bizarre. Who wouldn’t want to learn from a man who has built a company worth $230 billion?!?
It’s here if you want: