Ever wish you could spend a few days with some of the world’s billionaires, just to learn some of what they know?
Maybe not to become a billionaire yourself, but to find out just enough to kick your own finances into high gear?
Since that’s impossible for the vast majority of us, I settled for inspiring billionaire quotes. Maybe they don’t give specifics, but perhaps they can point us in the right direction.
Now there are hundreds of billionaires in the world, so I settled on digging up money quotes from the top 20. The billionaires are drawn from Forbes’ The World’s Billionaires for 2018.
As it turned out, it ended up being 20 of the top 26. Just like the rest of us, it seems some billionaires prefer to be private people, and don’t say much in public.
Nonetheless, the names on this list are as impressive as the statements they make about money.
1. Jeff Bezos
The founder of Amazon is the wealthiest man in the world, with an estimated net worth of $112 billion. And he’s only 55. His wisdom:
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“I think frugality drives innovation, just like other constraints do. One of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out.”
The operative word here is frugality, as in limited resources. Just as it drives innovation, it can force you to invent your way out of a tight box. Put another way, it’s often cheaper to create something than it is to buy it.
There are limitations of course, but when it comes to money, frugality is basic. To begin saving and investing money, you must first master the art of living beneath your means.
2. Bill Gates
The founder of Microsoft, estimated to be worth $90 billion, is also rich in quotes. But this one stands out:
“If you are born poor it’s not your mistake, but if you die poor its your mistake.”
No, you can’t do anything about the circumstances you were born into. But where you go from there is up to you. You may not be able to choose to be a billionaire, but you do have an opportunity to improve your finances and your life at any time.
3. Warren Buffet
The chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway is estimated to be worth $84 billion. Probably the most quotable of all billionaires, I found this one to be the most life changing:
“If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die.”
Think about it: if you can only make as much money as you earn, you’re limited by the number of hours you can work and the effort you can put out. But if you develop ways to make money, even when you’re not working…that’s the life changing part.
4. Bernard Arnault
The chairman and CEO of LVMH (the world’s largest luxury goods company) is estimated to be worth $72 billion. That makes him the wealthiest person in Europe. He had this to say:
“Money is just a consequence. I always say to my team, ‘Don’t worry too much about profitability. If you do your job well, the profitability will come.’”
Before you can make money, you have to first create something of value. That goes for investing as well. The companies whose stocks perform the best over the long-term are the ones that consistently add value. There’s insight in that quote, both for running a company and investing money.
5. Mark Zuckerberg
The youngest member of the 20 richest billionaires, Zuckerberg is estimated to be worth $71 billion. The co-founder and CEO of Facebookonce said the following:
“ The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”
There’s no way to be successful without taking risks. That’s as true in investing as it is in a career. If you invest too conservatively, such as putting all your money into safe investments and avoiding equity investments like stocks and real estate, you’ll be lucky if you can keep up with inflation.
6. Amancio Ortega
The founder of the Zara clothing and accessories chain is the second wealthiest man in Europe, with an estimated net worth of $70 billion. At 80 years old, he offers up this revelation:
“I’ll keep working until the end.”
Most people dream of retiring, and here’s a man who could have done it at any time, but chose not to. Great things can happen at any stage of life. And maybe the story of this man is that creating the ability to retire is more important than retirement itself.
7. Carlos Slim Helu
Carlos made his estimated fortune of $67.1 billion mostly in telecommunications. But looking at the big picture, he once had this to say:
“Low interest rates are a big opportunity for investment. But the issue is that this money should go to the real economy, not the financial economy.”
Moral of the story: invest in things that are real, and have lasting value. That can seem counterintuitive in today’s hyper-financialized economy. But if you look at the companies with the biggest market capitalizations, like Amazon, Google and Apple, they’re all providing valuable products and services. Interest rates and stock prices may rise and fall, but value endures.
8. Charles Koch
The co-owner of Koch Industries with his brother David (see below), is worth an estimated $60 billion. He had this to say:
“Relentlessly strive to come up with new and better products and produce them more efficiently than the alternatives.”
This is excellent advice in choosing a company to work for or invest in, or if you’re planning to launch a business. Growth has to be continuous, otherwise you become a “me too” competitor, destined for a less optimistic outcome.
9. David Koch
The other half of the Koch Brothers, David is also worth an estimated $60 billion. His advice comes from a different direction entirely:
“You know, once you’ve stood up to cancer, everything else feels like a pretty easy fight.”
His ongoing fight against cancer has given this multi-billionaire a deeper perspective on life, and one we shouldn’t miss. Money challenges may not be the biggest battles you’ll fight in life. With that in mind, keep it all in perspective and work to achieve balance in your life.
10. Larry Ellison
The co-founder, CEO and chief technology officer of Oracle is worth an estimated $58.5 billion. He advocates following your dreams:
“I believe people have to follow their dreams – I did.”
Before you can achieve anything meaningful you have to start out with a dream. That’s another counter-intuitive notion in a world where young people are often encouraged to pursue a “safe career”. With dreams comes passion, and the money usually follows. Larry Ellison’s life and success certainly make that point.
11. Michael Bloomberg
Worth an estimated $50 billion, Michael Bloomberg is the owner of the Bloomberg empire, and the former mayor of New York City. He offers this insight:
“America is built around this premise that you can do it, and there are an awful lot of people who are unlikely to have done it who did.”
Did you ever think about doing something big, but avoid acting on it? Maybe you thought people like me don’t do things like that. According to Michael Bloomberg, this may be completely wrong. Many of the greatest success stories in history were achieved by people considered to be unqualified. Whether you have a business idea, or you want to begin investing, never let that stop you.
12. Larry Page
The co-founder of Google (with Sergey Brin – see below), Page has an estimated net worth of $48.8 billion. He recommends focusing on the future.
“Lots of companies don’t succeed over time. What do they fundamentally do wrong? They usually miss the future.”
There are plenty of well-established companies that have a long, successful track records. But the companies people are getting rich investing in are the ones that are building the future. You’ll want to hold some of these companies in your investment portfolio, along with the steady performers. They may also be the richest employment opportunities.
13. Sergey Brin
Google’s other founding half is worth an estimated $47.5 billion. He offered this perspective:
“I feel there’s an existential angst among young people. I didn’t have that. They see enormous mountains, where I only saw one little hill to climb.”
If you view a path or goal as too intimidating, you might choose not to even pursue it. It seems Sergey is challenging us to lower the obstacles and focus on what’s on the other side of what seems to be an mountain. Rest assured if a hill looks like a mountain to you, it does to others as well. That’ll cut down on the competition. That’s exactly why it might not be as challenging as you believe it to be.
15. S. Robson Walton
Three of the children of Walmart founder Sam Walton – Jim Walton, S. Robson Walton and Alice Walton – occupy the 14th, 15th, and 16th spots on the list of the world’s richest billionaires, each with equal wealth. But so as not to draw too much inspiration from the same family, let’s look at a quote from S. Robson Walton (estimated net worth: $46.2 billion).
He had this to say:
“I learned from my dad that change and experimentation are constants and important. You have to keep trying new things.”
Translation: don’t get too set in your ways. The world, the economy and the markets are in a state of constant change. Be ready to roll with them, and to do some experimenting along the way. That might mean changing the way you do business, or the way you invest your money.
17. Ma Huateng
This billionaire made his estimated $45.3 billion fortune in internet media. He offered this advice:
“The leader of the market today may not necessarily be the leader tomorrow.”
In business as in investing, change is a constant. Technology, markets and leadership change constantly. An excellent example is Sears. It was Walmart before Walmart came along. But things change.
19. Mukesh Ambani
Mukesh is the chairman and largest investor in Reliance Industries Limited, the Indian company with the largest market capitalization. He’s personally estimated to be worth $40.1 billion. He warns us to be ready for a few setbacks:
“If there are some losses that you take, then we’re all big boys – we shouldn’t be crying.”
In any venture you embark on, be it a career, a business venture, or an investment, you’re going to experience losses and failures. They’re not aberrations – they’re normal. Don’t be beaten by them, but instead see them as part of the path forward.
20. Jack Ma
The co-founder and chairman of technology giant, Alibaba, is estimated to be worth $39 billion. His advice:
“I’m coming to this world not to work. I want to come to this world to enjoy my life. I don’t want to die in my office. I want to die on the beaches.”
Here’s a guy who’s figured out what it’s all about! Sure, you’ll need to work hard in your life. But it shouldn’t be an end in itself. Work should be to bring you as close to the life of your dreams as possible.
21. Sheldon Adelson
The founder and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corporation is worth an estimated $38.5 billion. He offers up this advice on the long-term:
“Why do I need succession planning? I’m very alert, I’m very vibrant. I have no intention to retire.”
That’s the opinion of a man of 85! We should suspect this is a man who thoroughly enjoys his work, and has no plan to retire – the exact opposite of Jack Ma. And as the saying goes, if you enjoy what you do, it won’t feel like work. That’s probably where this billionaire is at, and it’s a sage concept for the rest of us.
22. Steve Ballmer
The former CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer is estimated to be worth $38.4 billion. Ballmer looks at the darker side of success:
“When you’re running a company, you have employees – lots of them – that can interrupt your schedule. You have customers that can interrupt your schedule. You have a certain obligation to wave the flag because people expect to get out and wave the flag. The number of ways that others can command your time is high.”
Inevitably, there’s a trade-off between time and money. As you move up the ladder of success, there are more demands on your time. If you’re planning to jump on the fast-track, this is something to expect and to be prepared for.
26. Wang Jianlin
The founder of Dalian Wanda Group, China’s largest real estate development company, is worth an estimated $30 billion. He offers up another lesson in frugality:
“I am not a person who pursues luxury. I am not like those people who, once they have money, compulsively squander it or show it off.”
There’s deep wisdom in this quote. Here’s a man who’s worth billions, and he still lives relatively close to the ground. The takeaway for the rest of us might be, while it’s okay to enjoy some of your money, don’t get too caught up in the lifestyle it provides. Always be prepared to reinvest in your business, your career or your investment portfolio.
Final Thoughts on the Top Money Quotes for the 20 Richest People in the World
Most of us will never be billionaires, or even close. But it’s clear these are people who have deeper insights into both the power and limitations of money. We can all improve our careers, businesses and financial situations by paying close attention to the hints they offer with their occasional public commentary.
They may not change our lives overnight, but they can certainly get us heading in a better direction.