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China's richest man shares surprising tip for success

Jack Ma wants you to go to sleep. Image: Getty

Colourful entrepreneur Elon Musk says we need to work from 80 to 100 hours a week in order to “change the world”.

But that doesn’t leave much time for sleep, and according to China’s richest man and Alibaba chair, Jack Ma, sleep is absolutely essential to success.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos this week, Ma said that to do his job well, sleep is critical.

He doesn’t let worries keep him awake at night as worrying will do little to solve the problem, but a well-functioning brain will, he said.

“If I don’t sleep well, the problem will still be there. If I sleep, I have a better chance to fight it,” Ma explained.

It’s a tip echoed by another highly successful person.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos prioritises sleep, making sure he gets eight hours every night.

And he doesn’t even use an alarm clock, citing the benefits of waking up naturally.

Co-founder of The Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington is also a big believer in the power of sleep.

“I have to assure you that the success at the Huffington Post happened after I started taking care of myself,” she told CNBC last year.

She argues that when we get enough sleep, everything is better.

What else does Jack Ma suggest?

1. Get on top of your doubts

“Of course I was scared and had doubts [when I started Alibaba]. But I believed someone, if not us, would win. There are no experts of tomorrow, only of yesterday.”

2. Look for good bosses

He said the first job you work at is your most important. However, it’s not the company name that matters, but the boss.

“You should find a good boss that can teach you how to be a human being, how to do things properly, and stay there. Give yourself a promise: I will stay there for three years.”

3. Don’t worry about the competition

Rather, focus on creating value. If you create value, you’re also creating opportunities he said.

“Today the whole world worries. That means there is great opportunity.”

4. Educate the heart

With the way things are going, a future where human workers collaborate with robot colleagues is likely.

And while machines can do many things, they don’t have hearts, Ma said.

“Education should move in this direction.”

5. Instil a culture in your company, not rules

“To manage smart people you have to use culture, the value system, they believe what they do. If you just want to use rules and laws and documents to control – that’s how you control stupid people.”

6. Hire people who are smarter than you

Ma said he looks for people who could be his boss within five years.

“I like people who are positive and who never give up.”

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