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Jacky Tan

3 things Singaporeans can learn from multi-billionaires

BY JACKY TAN

Recently I read the news about this guy who owns a Porsche supercar; he made some impolite remarks on social media saying that the commuters in our local transport are poor people; he also mentioned about the "stench" in our public transport (I was like 'Huh?').

In my opinion, this guy needs to eat a humble pie and learn from these billionaires.

1) Ingvar Kampard (Net worth: More than USD 3 Billion)

Whenever the founder of IKEA and multi-billionaire, Ingvar Kampard, needs to get around the town, he would either take public buses or drive his 16-year-old Volvo. Sometimes, he would also dine with his employees in the local cafeteria. He prefers to fly on budget airlines too!

2) Chuck Feeney (Net worth: USD 1.3 Billion)

The billionaire founder of "Duty Free Shops" gave away more than USD 6 billion to charity. He usually takes public transport especially the subway trains when commuting to work. He encourages his children to work as maids, waiters, and cashiers during their college years. 

3) Warren Buffett (Net worth: More than USD 46 Billion)

We all know who Warren Buffett is. He is the grand-daddy of the investment industry and also one of the richest men in the world. He still lives in a humble house in Nebraska which he had bought 50 years ago. He does not own any luxury items such as yachts or supercars. It is reported that he also does not own a mobile phone or have a computer at his desk.

4) Mark Zuckerberg  (Net worth: About USD 9.3 Billion)

Considered as the youngest billionaire in the world, the Facebook founder continues to keep his life in low key and work almost 16 hours a day. He rented a house near his office and he prefers to wear jeans and tee shirts to work over expensive leather suits. During his honeymoon, he and his wife were spotted eating lunch at McDonald's.  Instead of driving a supercar, he prefers to drive around in his Acura.

5) Carlos Slim  (Net worth: About USD 53 Billion)

You may not know who Carlos Slim is but he is the one who surpassed Bill Gates in some years as being Forbes' richest man in the world. Yes. He is richer than Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

Carlos Slim is the "uncle" version of Mark Zuckerberg, a low profile guy who usually dressed up in simple clothes. Like Buffett, he does not own a yacht or private jet; he prefers to stay in the same house for about 40 years.

6) Tony Hsieh (Net worth: About USD 1 Billion)

The founder of Zappos can easily enjoy the fruits of the super wealthy when he sold his company to Microsoft for about USD 265 million. However,  he continues to venture into new dreams to turn Las Vegas into a tech hub. Today, Tony continues living a frugal lifestyle since his business days.

"He (Tony) would be just as happy with a dollar in the bank and being around people he cares about and care about him.” said Erik Moore, an early Zappos investor.

7) Azim Premji  (Net worth: About USD 12.2 Billion)

Azim is one of Asia's richest and the founder of Wipro, a leading IT provider. He drives a 1996 Ford, flies on economy class, and also stays in guest houses instead of five star hotels. During his son's wedding lunch, he even served food on paper plates. He would often take an auto-rickshaw from Bangalore airport to his home when he returned from his business trips.

3 Lessons from the Riches

There are 3 things we can learn from these multi-billionaires. They can easily lead lavish lifestyles but they choose not to. They don't show off their wealth. They like to live among the ordinary people and showing them with equal respect.  

Personally, I had encountered 3 wonderful experiences too.

i) Be Humble

My first experience is during a chat with a renowned local photographer who is often engaged by local and international celebrities and figures. He told me that one common trait of famous people is that they are usually very humble, well-mannered, and polite. People especially those in the media industry like to work with humble celebrities. They are willing to give them more opportunities to grow.

ii) Teach Your Children Well

My second experience happened when I met this customer about 7 years ago at my father's 2nd hand golf shop. He stays at a landed house in Bukit Timah and is one of the many millionaires in Singapore today.

One day, he mentioned to me about his children. He said that each time after school, he would drive his children to the nearest HDB playground to play with the kids there. He also enrolled his children to study in heartland schools. He told me the reason why he did all that is because, he does not want his children to feel that they are some rich people's kids because everybody is the same. By the way, he does not drive a supercar.

iii) Live Among the People With Respect

My third experience is about a friend who is a real multi-millionaire. He shares a Toyota Corolla with his wife and occasionally he would also take public transport if his wife is driving. He stays in an HDB flat; he looks like a typical Singapore Ah Pek although he has millions in his bank.

Materialistic Wealth vs Having a Rich Heart

I hope people who had read this can remember one thing, that is to continue to live with a rich heart no matter what situation you are in. It does not matter how much money you have in your bank account or how many supercars you own; what matters the most is whether or not you have lived your life fully with a rich heart.

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Jacky Tan

Jacky Tan

Jacky Tan is a brand strategist, professional marketing writer, blogger, speaker, and author. He is also the chairperson and keynote speaker for Marketing Asia Conference 2016. Jacky leads boutique marketing and branding agency 'Jack and Chaz Pte Ltd'.

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