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Intelligent Selfishness

By Zig Ziglar

Fortune Magazine published an intriguing article on a multi-billionaire from Hong Kong named Li Ka-Shing.  His two sons, Victor and Richard, were raised in their father’s business, attending board meetings and conferences where they were instructed, informed and indoctrinated in their father’s philosophy.

Obviously, if you’re worth a few billion dollars you have a different approach to your children than most of us would.  For example, how do you explain to a nine-year-old that he can’t have a bicycle that costs $250 because it’s too expensive when that nine-year-old has already observed that money is not a concern within the household?  But Li Ka-Shing recognized that “affording it” was not the issue; teaching sound principles was the idea involved.  For that reason, he kept a reasonably close rein on indulgences for his sons.  Traditionally, youngsters growing up in extraordinarily wealthy families, not the newly-rich athlete or movie star but those whose fortunes have been in the family for several generations, are familiar with financial restraint.

Perhaps the most intriguing thing son Richard observed as he watched his father, who was truly an entrepreneurial genius, was the fact that his dad engaged in many joint ventures with those who had products and ideas but were short on capital.  Richard learned that if 10% is a fair percentage of the business you receive as a result of your investment, but you know you can get 11%, it is wise to take only 9%.  Li Ka-Shing taught his boys that if he took less than he could get, countless other people with good ideas and good products but no money would come flocking to his doorstep.  The net result is that instead of making one profitable – albeit greedy – deal, he could make numerous good, solid deals at the lower percentage.  This meant that the total amount of profits would be dramatically higher.  That’s being intelligently selfish, which is really being unselfish and wise.

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