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article imageOp-Ed: Wealth tips from the 10 richest people in the world

By Glen Olives     Dec 22, 2014 in Lifestyle
2014 saw some changes on the leaderboard of the world's richest people. But they all have some things in common we common folk can learn from in order to get rich, or more likely die trying.
According to Forbes, 2014 saw Bill Gates regain his ranking as the world's richest person, pushing Mexico's Carlos Slim to an embarrassing 3rd place (the guy's only amassed a $71.7 billion fortune–what a loser). And although Mark Zuckerberg didn't make the top 10 list with a decidedly modest net worth of a mere $36 billion, the scrappy Garfield-eyed Facebook guru, as of this writing, improved his net worth by $822 million. How he lives on that little, god only knows. Must have a pretty spartan lifestyle. And then there's China's Jack Ma, a one-time candidate for the top 10 list, but it looks like he's going to be stuck at number 36 for a while, having lost some $346 million in 2014, and with only a week left in the year, the chances don't look good for gaining it back. Jack must be depressed: not only is he knocking on the door of the poorhouse, he looks like a shaved cat.
But I digress.
The real reason for this piece is to give inspiration for those of us (yes I'm one) who didn't make it to the top 10 richest list this year. So I analyzed how the top-teners' got there, and provide some advice on how you too can amass a fortune greater than the gross domestic product of many small countries, even if adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP). (I actually don't know what that means, but economists bandy it about all the time in casual conversation so it must be important.) I should also tell you my in-depth synthesis and analysis of how to get rich without really trying was originally planned as a webinar, but in the spirit of the holidays what follows is free. Enjoy.
How to make the top 10 richest list tip no. 1: Inherit your wealth. I told you this would be easy! You don't even have to do anything. That's right, Christy Walton (#8), Jim Walton (#9), and Alice Walton (#10), round out the top 10. Through hard work, intense sacrifice, and disciplined application of delayed gratification, they were handed their billions. And if the French economist Thomas Picketty is right, they won't be joining Jack Ma in the soup-line any time soon, as their accumulated wealth is set to outpace economic growth forever. (It also helps that Wal-Mart, one of the world's biggest corporations, pays its workers so little that many rely on food handouts.)
How to make the top 10 richest list tip no. 2: Invent something really cool and then aggressively monopolize the market through cunning, skill, expensive lawsuits that competitors can't afford to defend, anti-trust violations, and the purchase of legislators (they come surpisingly cheap). At the top of the list are Bill Gates (#1), Carlos Slim (#3) and Oracle's Larry Ellison (#4). This is comparatively more difficult than simple inheritance, as it requires, at least initially, some talent and creativity. But after that, all you really have to do is hire an army of lawyers and lobbyists. The rest is a breeze.
How to make the top 10 richest list tip no. 3: Rape the environment of virtually free non-renewable natural resources, refine them, and charge the public outrageously high prices. The Koch brothers come in at nos. 6 and 7 respectively. They've paid more than $400 million in environmental fines, but hey, that's just the cost of doing business; and good business it is. Oh, and if you can violate the law by secretly selling banned products to Iran, that helps too. Needless to say, this business model also requires quite a few lawyers, lobbyists, and fair amount of political contributions as well, another cost of doing business.
How to make the top 10 richest list tip no. 4: Be smart, decent, industrious, treat your employees well, and build a retail empire. Spain's reclusive Amancio Ortega (no. 4), did just that, and he still eats lunch with his employees in the cafeteria every day. It doesn't hurt, of course, if you farm out much of your clothing manufacturing labor to third world sweatshops. Actually, in today's retail economy, that's the key to outrageous fortune in this particular industry.
How to make the top 10 richest list tip no. 5: Invest in the stocks of all of the above companies. (I'm surprised that Warren Buffet only came in at number 2 this year.)
Click here for a more detailed, somewhat edgier 8,000 word analysis of the 2014 economy. Otherwise, have a prosperous new year!
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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