Carlos Slim Helu

Carlos Slim Helu might have made it to the top of the Forbes List the second time in running but he is hardly known in India.Other than a few brief news pieces there has hardly been anything written about him in the Indian Press.

Now here is a man from an emerging economy who has made it to the top of the world rich list.The first to have done so.

His parents were successful in trade and business and so his family was well to do.But he multiplied the family fortune manifold by his own efforts.He was the 5th of 6 children and his father died when he was just 13 years old.However even before that his father gave him a good grounding in business skills especially in book keeping.Carlos made his first investment on his own in government bonds when he turned 13. 

Later he made his fortune by buying up companies cheap in times of turbulence .A skill he claims he was taught by his father.In his turn this was a lesson he took care to  impart to his children.They recollect the times when he used to show them how Mexican companies were undervalued compared to similar companies in other countries.

The following videos are of a Larry King interview of Carlos Slim .They cover various aspects of his life.The part I like best is when he describes how his wife was entranced by the works in the Louvre He then suggested that she participate rather than just observe.Their first purchase in the 60s was nothing famous just an anonymous work.And apparently art then didn’t cost what it does now.So my foremost takeaway from the videos is to participate.Do watch the videos he has some good ideas on the importance of family.


The following is a letter Carlos Slim wrote to Mexican University students.I found that his words struck a cord with me .I somehow felt that like me he too had had to work to make place for his emotions.Personally as a child I had no problems with balancing my heart and my brain.It’s just that somewhere in my adolescence I started addressing every issue with my brain.I started taking pride in having the perfect mental control over my emotions.I was under some impression that it made me somehow stronger and so more able/worthy of success.Suppressed emotions however just made me sad and looking back I can say I stupidly lost a lot of happiness that would easily have been mine.My hard-headedness might have brought me some success as others recognized it but I’d say I lost my ability to really shine.It’s only in my late 20s that I deliberately started trying to just be me.The happiness is back,the successes are somewhat diminished and somehow it’s no longer important what a lot of people think and by god my wealth has multiplied.Sometimes it just feels like the abundance of the world is just mine.The read ink is just the words I found particularly significant.I wish I had read these words some 20 years ago.

“I write to you this letter in order to share some of my life experiences, hoping it will contribute to your education, your way of thinking and living, your emotional well-being, your sense of responsibility to yourselves and to others, your maturity, and above all, to your happiness, which should be the result of your daily existence.

You are privileged within society due to your talents and efforts, and for the best reason, your own worth.

Success is not about doing things well or even very well, or being acknowledged by others.  It is not an external opinion, but rather an internal status.  It is the harmony between the soul and your emotions, which requires love, family, friendship, authenticity and integrity.

To be as exceptional as you are is a privilege, but it also entails many risks that can have an impact on values that are much more important than professional, economic, social or political “success”.  Emotional strength and stability are in the interior life, and in avoiding emotions that erode the soul such as envy, jealousy, arrogance, lust, selfishness, vengeance, greed and laziness, which are a poison that is ingested little by little.

When you give, do not expect to receive.  “Fragrance clings to the hand that gives the rose,” says a Chinese proverb.  Do not allow negative feelings and emotions to control your mind.  Emotional harm does not come from others; it is conceived and developed within ourselves.

Do not mix up your values or betray your principles.  Life’s road is very long, but it is traveled fast.  Live the present intensely and fully, do not let the past be a burden, and let the future be an incentive.  Each person forges his or her own destiny and it may influence reality.  Do not ignore it.

Live with positive feelings and emotions such as love, friendship, loyalty, courage, joy, good humor, enthusiasm, peace, serenity, patience, trust, tolerance, prudence and responsibility.  Do not allow their opposites to invade your soul, may they pass quickly from your mind, do not allow them to stay there, banish them.  You will make mistakes many times, it is normal and human; but try to make them small, then accept, correct and forget them. Do not be obsessed by them; heaven and hell are within us.  What is most valuable in life does not cost anything but is very precious:  love, friendship, nature and what man has been able to achieve with it; the forms, colors, sounds, smells that we perceive with our senses can only be appreciated when we are emotionally awake.

Live without fear and guilt; fear is the worst feeling men can have, it weakens them, inhibits action and depresses them.  Guilt is a tremendous burden in our lives, the way we think and act.  Guilt and fear make the present difficult and obstruct the future.  To fight them, let us have good sense and accept ourselves as we are, with our realities, our merits and our sorrows.

Staying occupied displaces preoccupation and problems, and when we face our problems, they disappear.  Thus, they make us stronger every day. We should learn from failure, and successes should be silent incentives.  Act always as your conscience dictates, because it never lies.  Fear and guilt will then be minimal.  Do not block yourself in, do not ruin your life, live it with intelligence, with soul and senses aware and on the alert; get to know their manifestations and train yourselves to appreciate and enjoy life.

Work well done is not only a responsibility to yourselves and society; it is also an emotional need.

At the end we depart with nothing, we leave behind only our work, family and friends, and, perhaps, a positive influence which we have planted.

My very best wishes,
Carlos Slim Helú “

About Keerthika Singaravel

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