Jack Ma Says He Never Skimps on Sleep — and Shares a Key Ingredient to His Success

The Founder & Executive Chairman of Alibaba prioritizes sleep, which allows him to practice his highest values.

Photo Credit: VCG/Getty Images
Photo Credit: VCG/Getty Images

For Jack Ma, sleep is sacred. When the 54-year-old Founder & Executive Chairman of tech conglomerate Alibaba Group was asked at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday what keeps him up at night, he swiftly replied: “Nothing! If I don’t sleep well, the problem will still be there. If I sleep, I have a better chance to fight it.”

Science proves that prioritizing sleep allows Ma — and us —  to better solve more complicated problems and practice values he espoused at Davos last year: emotional intelligence or quotient (EQ) — our ability to recognize, understand, and manage our emotional responses and influence those of others — and what he calls “the love quotient” (LQ).

“If a person wants to be successful, he should have a high EQ,” he told WEF attendees in 2018. “If you don’t want to lose quickly, you will need a high IQ, but if you want to be respected, you need a high LQ — the IQ of love.”

Explaining LQ at a JP Morgan conference in 2017 and placing it at the top of his hierarchy of values, Ma said: “There is IQ and there is EQ. But more important is LQ. You can become a money machine, but what’s the use of that? If you’re not contributing to the rest of the world, there’s no LQ.”

Staying on a path of purpose and cultivating emotionally intelligent relationships all starts with a good night’s rest. Research proves that sleep deprivation chips away at our civility and empathy, the cornerstones of EQ, and can even result in our unleashing aggressions toward those we love most. On an individual level, people who are sleep-deprived experience a greater sense of burden, as well as symptoms related to social anxiety and depression, according to a study just published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Sleep, in other words, is sacred, and we should treat it as such. (For more simple, actionable tips on how to get good sleep, check out our story here.)

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