Nobody is quite sure who is the Richest Man or Woman in the World. Smart rich people tend to downplay their wealth. But according to many estimates, the richest man in the world is Mexican telecommunications tycoon Carlos Slim Helú.
Carlos was born in Mexico City, Mexico in 1940, the son of an immigrant from Lebanon, who had arrived all alone and 14 years of age, with no capital, and speaking no Spanish. He was fleeing conscription into the army of the Ottoman Empire, which at the time drafted young men into its army at 15. Carlos Slim’s grandmother therefore sent her 14 year old son away, alone, to seek fortune in the new world.
Carlos Slim opened his first checking account and bought his first shares at the tender age of twelve.
Carlos Slim’s fortune has not been won without controversy. Many people accuse him of abusing government connections and monopoly power, especially in relation to his most important business, Telmex, which he acquired during a privatization in 1990.
Still, he must be doing something right, and it is worth reading through his 10 principles for success, published on his website:
- Create an organizational structure with simple, minimal hierarchies; provide personal development and in-house training for executives; maintain flexibility and a rapid decision-making capability; leverage the advantages of a small company and use these to grow and excel.
- Maintaining austerity in good times strengthens, profits and accelerates the development of the company, and averts the bitterly drastic adjustments in times of crisis.
- Stay focused on modernization, growth, training, quality, simplification and the continuous improvement of production processes. Increase productivity and competitiveness, reduce costs and expenses by using global benchmarks.
- Companies should never be limited by the size of the owner or manager. Do not be a big fish in a small pond. Minimize investment in non-productive assets.
- There is no challenge that we cannot overcome by working together with clear objectives and knowing the tools we have at our disposal.
- Money that leaves the company evaporates; this is why we reinvest profits.
- Corporate creativity is not only applicable to business, but also to solving many of society’s problems. This is what we do through the Group’s Foundations.
- Firm and patient optimism always yields its rewards.
- All times are good time for those who know how to work and have the tools to do so.
- Our premise is and has always been that we leave with nothing; that we can only do things while we are alive and that businessmen are creators of the wealth they temporarily manage.