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INSPIRATION: The rags-to-riches story of Asia’s Superman
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The rags-to-riches story of Asia’s Superman
By Nikita Jaeger

BT 202008 INSPIRATION 01Asia has produced many successful entrepreneurs. Most of them reached the zenith of business by fighting poverty and facing numerous challenges. Without adequate education and a sound financial background, they managed to become the best business leaders worldwide.
 

Nicknamed as Asia’s Superman, the 30th richest billionaire in the world, he is a highly influential businessman in Asia with an incredible life story. He was born to impoverished parents in 1928 in Guangdong province in China. During World War II, at the age of twelve, he fled to Hong Kong with his family.
 

When one tries to improve oneself, giving it one’s best, matters considered impossible become possible. Those who dream of becoming a successful person have lots of things to learn from this man. He has always insisted that people should have a vision in their thoughts and actions, and that these are the greatest strengths to help them reap success.
 

大家有听过时下热门的一首名为Rags2Riches的歌曲吗?在美国嘻哈说唱歌手Rod Wave发布了这首单曲之后,立刻在抖音和各种社交平台上面引起了一股分享自己奋斗故事的热潮。于是,今天给大家分享“亚洲超人”:李嘉诚的人生经历故事。亚洲有许多超级富豪,而李嘉诚是其中最特别的一个。他于1928年在中国大陆出生,父母贫困。第二次世界大战期间,也就是十二岁那年,他与家人逃到香港。两年后,他的父亲死于结核病。为了养家,他只能不上学而去工作。童年艰难,没有任何帮助的李嘉诚,是如何开设自己的公司的?他是怎么从小公司慢慢做起,业务拓展,最后建成一个强大的长江实业商业帝国的?他又分享了什么重要的人生经验?
 

Struggles in childhood

When he was just fourteen, his father succumbed to tuberculosis. To earn money for his family, he had to abandon school to work as an apprentice in a plastics factory. He even had to sell the clothes of his dead father to buy food. While all his friends played games and attended school, he spent sixteen hours every day at the plastic factory making watchbands. As he was intelligent and hardworking, he became the unit manager at the age of eighteen.
 

The journey starts

BT 202008 INSPIRATION 02After a few years, he joined a plastics trading company, which helped him a lot to support his family. When he had gained valuable knowledge and experience in the plastics industry, he took the bold step of starting a plastic toy manufacturing business at the age of twenty-two. Very soon, he adjusted the plans and started making plastic flowers. At that time, plastic flowers were trendy in Italy. In 1950, he registered the plastic company, Cheung Kong, inspired by the Yangtze River.


He was always searching for opportunities for business expansion. In 1958, he started buying many factories and apartment buildings in Hong Kong with the money he had saved. It was a time of severe social unrest due to bombings and Maoist activities, and the chaos was a reason why he could acquire properties at a throw-away price.
 

He started building a mighty empire by investing sensibly in the business. He changed his focus in business to property management and development. He always knew that he wasn’t lucky, but he set goals and worked hard to achieve them. He maintained calculated movements aimed at great success. By 1972, Cheung Kong Holdings had become well-known as a well-established real estate firm.
 

Tactful business diversification


In 1979, deviating from the real estate business, he started acquiring different business firms. He bought Hutchison Whampoa from HSBC and soon transformed it as an independent port operator with investments in port facilities worldwide.
 

It is interesting to note, however, that not all of his ventures were a success. He lost heavily on Rabbit, a mobile business firm. However, his greatest deal was the sale of the UK telecoms business, Orange, in 1999.


He was never overly optimistic at times when markets were good and never too pessimistic when the market was down. He started investing in the UK, Australia, Europe, and Canada, and sold expensive assets in China. He was a visionary as a businessman and invested in Facebook, Siri, Skype, Airbnb, and Spotify. He also built an international corporation in different industries like retailing, infrastructure, telecoms, and energy.


Li Ka-Shing, the man with a terrible childhood story has now become one of the richest men in Asia, with a net worth of 24.7 billion USD (May 2020).


Life lessons from a self-made billionaire

BT 202008 INSPIRATION 03As someone who started his journey from humble beginnings, Li Ka-Shing outlined a plan for how success seekers and entrepreneurs should act to master the art of victory. Any person can follow it to buy a house and car in just five years. He suggests dividing one's earning proportionally into five sections––living expenses, expanding one’s circle of friends, study, holidays overseas, and investment.


He also advises buying lunch every month for rich people, those more knowledgeable than you, or those who supported you in your career development. It will generate significant value for you among your circle of friends, and making it a practice can improve your influence and your image of being generous.


More of his advice: Read carefully the books you buy. Be a bookworm. Try to learn the strategies written in the book, and after reading each book, share it with others. Sharing can help in enhancing your credibility.


Find a part-time sales job and sell like a wolf. Though challenging, this is the best way to acquire the skill of selling. Many successful entrepreneurs were once excellent salesmen who sold their dreams and vision. A sales job helps you to meet people who will be useful for your career. In sales, you get a clear picture of what sells and what does not.


Never wear clothes that you cannot afford, and save money in the initial days; you can buy more outfits once you are wealthy. Buy gifts for people who are close to your heart. Let them know your financial goals and plans. Tell them about your dreams, your efforts, and the steps you take.
 

Business people always need help. To refine your skills, offer to work with them on a part-time basis. It will aid you in developing yourself and bringing you close to your financial goals.


Start planning now. Life, career, and happiness are all interconnected and require meticulous planning. When your earnings are low, spend more time outside and less time at home. When you become rich, spend more time at home and less out. Spend money on others when you are financially weak, but when you are rich, you can spend it on yourself.
 

Never allow your ego to rule you. Never be calculating. When you are not wealthy, be open so that other people make good use of you. When you become rich, preserve yourself and don’t allow others to make use of you easily. Never show off when you are rich. Instead, you may spend money silently on yourself. When you are financially down, try to be generous and let people see the money you spend.


Stay focused, and never be afraid of being poor. Discipline yourself. Know well what is worth investing in and how you have to invest. Find out what you have to avoid spending cash on. Eat less. If you dine out, let it be for lunch or dinner. Make sure that you buy dinner for those who work harder and have bigger dreams than you.
 

Leadership lessons

BT 202008 INSPIRATION 04Undoubtedly Li Ka-Shing has incredible leadership qualities that helped him to build a global empire. He never believed in luck, but had a strategic vision. Even at the age of 30, Li was wealthy enough that his family did not have to work for the future. Until now, he has never stopped learning. He was never satisfied and tried to find ways to grow even better. Though wealthy, Li Ka-Shing has a no-frills lifestyle. He always wears a simple black suit, a Seiko watch, and black shoes.
 

Li Ka-Shing has always moved with the times, correlating his business with knowledge. Accepting changes and adapting to new technology and innovation is his greatest strength. Since 2010, he even invested in artificial intelligence. Through his company, Horizon Ventures, he kept investing in the internet, healthcare, mobile, media, and other industries. Unlike people who run family businesses, he tried to find talented people. He selected smart people and avoided choosing corporate people.


A Big Heart

In 1980, Li set up a foundation with the aim of donating one-third of his assets. By 2017, he had contributed USD 1.86 billion for healthcare, education, and many more causes. As an active philanthropist, his main focus is in education, and he supports Shantou University. He has also donated heavily to Stanford University, Cambridge University, Oxford University, etc..


Li Ka-Shing built a worldwide business empire from scratch. At the age of 90, the billionaire retired from active business participation. His rags-to-riches story is greatly inspiring, and he is one of the most influential visionaries and generous philanthropists of the millennium.

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