Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma has given unusual ‘pearls of wisdom’ to millennials who were starting work at Yahoo! China, urging them to always ‘use brain over brawn’ that hard work may, after all, be overrated.

“Laziness is not, of course, stupid-lazy. If you want to be able to work less, you have to think of ways to do it, clever ways to be allowed to be lazy,” said the founder of the world’s biggest online marketplace.

His message was that the fast-changing world needs critical thinkers and innovators and people with a cunning mind that is constantly developed.  In yesterday’s economy, experts reason, workers lives were divided into a period of when they learned followed by the time they worked.

“They went to school or university and learned a competency, trade or profession. They were set for life. No more. Learning is now continuous. A career is now similar to a milk carton that has a time stamp on it. If it is not constantly reinvented, like milk, it will quickly go sour,” writes Huffington Post.


Ma told the youths that there are lots of well-educated people who seem unable to succeed because they’ve been wrongly taught from an early age. They have developed the habit of being overly diligent and hardworking.

“Many of these people remember Edison’s famous phrase, the one about genius being 99 percent sweat and the rest inspiration. They have been led around by the nose by this saying for their entire lives. I’m telling you now it’s wrong. If you plod forward with diligence, in the end you’ll be left with nothing,” Ma said.

He gave the following examples of brain over brawn:

Bill Gates, the richest man on earth.

“Bill Gates, was a programmer who was too lazy to study at school, so he dropped out. He was also too lazy to remember all those complex DOS commands, so he built that graphic interface… what was it called? I’ve forgot- ten. I’m too lazy to remember these things. The result was that the entire world now uses that “face,” that “window,” and he has become the world’s richest man,” he said.

Coca-Cola, the most valuable brand on earth, was even more lazy.

“China’s tea culture has a long and venerable history, Brazil’s coffee is delicious, but the boss of Coca-Cola was too lazy to go looking for them. He put a little sugar together with some water, packaged it in a bottle and sold it, and called it Coca-Cola. The rest is history. The entire world is drinking this liquid that looks a little like blood,” he said.


Ronaldo, one of the best soccer players in history.

“The best soccer player in the world is [Ronaldo], who is fundamentally too lazy to move around much on the field. He just stands before the goal of the other side. He waits for the ball to come near him, then gives it a kick. As one of the highest-paid athletes in the world, people puff him up and say he runs with the ball faster than anyone. It’s not true. Other people run for 90 minutes; he runs for fifteen seconds. Naturally he is considered faster,” he said.

McDonalds and Pizza

He then cited McDonalds and also the person who came up with pizza, saying the founder of McDonalds “was lazy in the extreme and just stuck a piece of beef in between two chunks of bread, and as a result, the world has this M sign all over it.” The pizza boss is the same. This man was too lazy to stick anything inside; he puts it right on top and sells it as pizza.


Elevators and escalators

Other clever people were lazy to climb stairs, so they invented elevators.

Cars, trains, airplanes

Others were too lazy to walk, so they invented cars, trains, airplanes. They were too lazy to kill people one by one, so they invented nuclear bombs. Others, were too lazy to work out every calculation, so they invented mathematical formulas.

“You see people running around here in the company. Are they the ones who are most highly paid? Absolutely not. Those most highly paid sit around looking carefree. They probably have a lot of stock options as well. The examples I give are just to clarify an issue, which is that, in fact, this world relies on lazy people to carry it forward. The world is marvellous, thanks to them. Now you should all be aware of the reason for your lack of success!”