What Keeps Jack Ma Ticking? Snooze Time, He Reveals

The founder and executive chairman of Alibaba prioritises sleep, which allows him to practise his highest values.

For Jack Ma, sleep is sacred. When the 54-year-old Founder and Executive Chairman of tech conglomerate Alibaba Group was asked at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week 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 prioritising sleep allows Ma—and us—to better solve more complicated problems and practise values he espoused at Davos last year: emotional intelligence or quotient (EQ)—our ability to recognise, 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.

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