THIS IS MY FIRST INSTALLMENT OF RISE AND GRIND
A BIT OF DAILY INSPIRATION TO GO WITH YOUR COFFEE
CARLOS SLIM: THE WORLD’S RICHEST MAN
Financier and Philanthropist
Carlos Slim Date of birth: January 28, 1940
Carlos Slim’s father, Julién Slim Haddad, immigrated to Mexico from Lebanon at age 14. With one of his brothers, he opened a dry-goods store in Mexico City. When foreign investors fled the country following the revolution of 1910, Julián Slim resolved to remain in Mexico. By the 1920s, he had acquired a number of businesses and substantial real estate in the capital city. Julián married Doña Linda Helú, a daughter of Lebanese immigrants. The couple raised six children, of whom Carlos Slim Helú was the fifth.
The senior Slim encouraged all of his children to learn and understand finance. He gave each child a ledger to record expenditures. Young Carlos showed a special aptitude for numbers, and by age 12 was buying shares in the Bank of Mexico. When Carlos Slim was 13, his father died, and the next years were difficult for Carlos. He studied civil engineering at the Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM), and while still studying, began to teach mathematics and linear programming. After a few years of teaching, Carlos Slim incorporated his first business venture, a stock brokerage, Inversora Bursátil. The same year, he married Soumaya Domit; in future ventures, he combined the first letters of their names, as in the name of his holding company, Grupo Carso.
Remembering the lessons of thrift he had learned from his father, he and his growing family lived modestly, while earnings from his businesses were re-invested in expansion and more acquisitions. Over the next two decades, Carlos Slim astutely acquired companies he believed were undervalued and skillfully overhauled their management. He diversified methodically, investing in real estate, then a construction equipment company, then mining interests. The portfolio of Slim companies grew to include a printer, a tobacco company and retail stores.
In 1982, Mexico plunged into an economic crisis. The government defaulted on its foreign debts, and many Mexican investors rushed to expatriate their capital. Carlos Slim’s confidence in his country held firm, and he acquired the Mexican affiliates of Reynolds Aluminum, General Tire and the Sanborn’s chain of stores and cafeterias. As the economy recovered, Slim’s fortune grew, and his acquisitions accelerated. He acquired the Mexican interests of a number of U.S.-based brands: Firestone tires, Hershey’s chocolate, Denny’s coffee shops. He bought and merged a number of insurance companies into the giant firm Seguros Inbursa.
The greatest opportunity of all presented itself when the Mexican government began to divest itself of a number of state-owned monopolies. After taking the holding company public in 1990, Slim’s Grupo Carso, with French and American partners, purchased the state telephone company, Teléfonos de México (Telmex). Slim took a special interest in a small component of Telmex’s operations, the company’s fledgling cellular service. Slim had a unique idea for building the customer base for cell phone service in Mexico’s struggling economy. He sold the handsets with a month’s service prepaid, and rather than sending the customers a monthly bill, Slim enabled his customers to buy prepaid phone cards, using their minutes as needed. Telmex executives resisted the plan at first, convinced that aggressive promotion of prepaid cell phones would undermine the market for traditional landline service. As it happened, the prepaid program filled an enormous need, and the customer base grew by 66 percent every year for the next 15 years. In the wake of the dot.com bust of 2000, foreign-owned cellular ventures throughout Latin America floundered. Slim scooped them up, combining cellular services in a market he understood better than anyone else.
Soon his company, América Móvil, had become the largest wireless services provider in Latin America. As the demand for wireless communication exploded, Slim’s enterprise grew to meet it. By 2007, his group of companies were valued at an estimated $150 billion. When Fortune magazine and other sources calculated the wealth of the world’s leading businessmen, they concluded that Carlos Slim, with an estimated personal fortune of $59 billion, was the richest man on Earth.
NOW THAT IS THE TRUE DEFINITION OF HUSTLE.
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