I know a very rich woman who insists on travelling on low cost flights to her holiday destinations! Now, that is not my idea of how rich people can enjoy a leisurely lifestyle. I am looking around for some much better examples which will inspire us. How did these people make all that money and do they really enjoy and value a relaxed lifestyle? Wealth is not just about money, you know!
1. Carlos Slim Helu’
With a wealth of around $81 billion, Carlos is regarded as the world’s richest man, and he has held that position for at least three years. So, how did he get rich and does he has a leisurely lifestyle?
He has made his fortune with the telecommunications industry in Mexico and far beyond. But his wealth has penetrated almost every industry and service in Mexico. It is no surprise to hear that his country is now referred to as “Slimlandia.” How did he do it? His fans say that he was successful because he recognizes an undervalued company when he sees it and buys it.
He also has an amazing talent for numbers and that helped him in his decision to buy into Cigatim, one of the largest tobacco companies in Mexico. They were the ones who made Marlboro cigarettes. He has also a great talent at putting companies together into monopolies, and specializing in telecommunications.
He is passionate about fine art and has named the new museum in honor of his late wife Soumaya, which houses a fantastic art collection and the value of the paintings and sculptures there are said to be worth over $400 million. He loves the Rodin sculptures especially.
He loves driving himself around Mexico city although he is surrounded by bodyguards in blacked out 4x4s.
His idea of leisure is a very practical one. He is advocating that people should only work a 3 day week so that they have more time for entertainment, hobbies and spending time with loved ones. He is also a firm advocate of chasing away negative thoughts which can be toxic.
“Do not allow negative feelings and emotions to control your mind. Emotional harm does not come from others; it is conceived and developed within ourselves.”
2. Larry Ellison
Larry Ellison is brash, very rich and has an inflated ego. He now ranks as the world’s ninth richest person and has a wealth worth around $46 billion. He says that he first used Facebook on a daily basis for three months. While he was doing that he found out what his friends were having for breakfast. He discovered that this was not so interesting! But the Facebook experience convinced him that if you or your company do not move forward with technology, then you are dead in the water. He is fond of quoting Woody Allen on this one.
“A relationship, I think, is like a shark. It has to constantly move forward or it dies.”
Larry Ellison always wanted to be rich so that he could always have enough time to go hiking in the Yosemite Valley. He already had his priorities right about a leisurely lifestyle. But he was made acutely aware of the fragility of our human existence in a terrible sailing accident in 1998 when six of his crewmates were killed in a typhoon. He survived and this convinced him of the need to treasure our time on this earth.
“I’ve known for a long time that life is glorious and fragile and short,”
It also made him keenly aware of the need to get his work-life balance right. He always says that the measure of his success is not his actual wealth but how happy he is.
One of the secrets to Ellison’s success is that he has always ignored the critics who thought his ideas were crazy. If there were no factual errors in their criticism, he completely disregarded them. He has always said he used the following criteria in his business decisions:
- if they are fair
- if they are morally correct
- if they work
3. Amancio Ortega
Imagine building a fashion empire that reaches into over 80 countries. That is what the founder of Zara, Amancio Ortega, has done with incredible success. There are only 46 Zara stores in the US while China has 347! It is no surprise that he is the third wealthiest person on the planet. He is incredibly secretive and there are very few photographs of him available.
In one rare interview, he revealed the secret of his success. He follows two simple rules. The first is that you give customers what they want. The second is that you deliver it to them faster than anyone else.
In the poor town of La Coruna where he grew up, he spotted an ideal workforce in the fishermen’s wives who were eager to earn extra cash sewing garments. These were organized into sewing cooperatives and so the first optimal supply chain was born. A lot of Zara’s success is due to accurate consumer feedback on what they want to buy plus the fact that Zara stores restock at lightning speed.
Ortega has shunned the celebrity lifestyle. He lives in a house with a sea view in La Coruna and goes to his country residence to enjoy raising chickens and goats and to stay with his family. He loves going on hiking pilgrimages and horse riding. His lifestyle is summed up as “absolute normality.” As he hates flying, he rarely travels so the chances of you meeting him in business class are about zero.
4. Miuccia Prada
“Rich people need to be entertained more and more. And then I think, ‘Let’s not entertain anymore. Let’s be simple.””
Miuccia Prada’s grandfather ran a leather goods shop in Milan. He probably never thought his granddaughter would have transformed that business into a global fashion empire. She is thought to be the single most important influence in contemporary fashion. Miuccia Prada’s wealth is now estimated at around $13 billion.
The secret of her success is that she was able to identify what men were prepared to try in fashion. Her plan was to promote much more freedom in men’s clothes. She started by looking at what they were wearing on the golf course and took inspiration from that. She has applied similar ideas to women’s clothes with the overall aim of making women stronger and men more sensitive through what they are wearing. Another secret to her success is the fact that she is intensely competitive and she is also fiercely creative.
As to a leisurely lifestyle, Miuccia Prada treasures some simple pleasures such as playing cards, music, gardening and also watching football. Her home is always full of people and she obviously enjoys company, and has kept up her old school acquaintances. Her secret passion is sailing and she keeps her boat in a southern Italian port but I am not allowed to tell you where it is!
5. Larry Page
Larry Page and Google are household names. The fact that “google” has already become a verb is a tribute to Larry Page’s and Sergey Brin’s success. Page’s wealth is estimated at $31 billion. The first thing that strikes you about Larry Page is his complete commitment to the future because he is passionately interested in biotech and robotics which he hopes will extend the lifespan of human beings. He regularly talks about how life will be in the next century and that many of our problems as human beings on this rather tired planet will, hopefully, be solved.
He advises companies not to concentrate on producing the same things as their competitors with minor improvements. This sort of incremental progress will fail over time. He recommends that companies focus much less on their competitors. He claims that Google has only tackled about 1% of what can be done to make people’s lives better. He advocates that companies be much more adventurous in tackling the 99% of virgin territory out there.
“If you’re not doing some things that are crazy, then you’re doing the wrong things.”
As for a leisurely lifestyle. Larry Page loves kite boarding and often goes to Richard Branson’s NeckerIsland to fly over the waves there. The private Google jet only seats 50 people whereas it was originally designed for 180. Nobody knows how the interior has been changed. There are rumors that there are hammocks on that plane but I have no reliable source to confirm that!
Featured photo credit: Larry Ellison on Stage/ Oracle PR via flickr.com