The world’s richest people are a source of inspiration for many. It’s fascinating to learn what makes them different from the moderately rich and so very different from ordinary people. This article explores the personal values of the ten richest people in the world.
The richest person in the world is the CEO and chairman of LVMH, the biggest luxury goods company worldwide. The French national’s net worth is $190 billion. He holds 97.5% of Christian Dior, worth $151 billion, and equity in Moelis & Company worth $28.6 billion. He also has cash of $11 billion.
Among the brands that are part of LVMH are Hennessey, Louis Vuitton, Sephora, and Marc Jacobs. The main LVMH brand is Christian Dior. Holding company Christian Dior SE controls just over 41% of LVMH.
Arnault told Forbes in a 2010 interview that he sees himself as “an ambassador of French heritage and French culture.” He puts his money where his mouth is: in line with his value of culture and heritage, he pledged the amount of $226 million to help restore Notre Dame cathedral in Paris after the fire in 2019.
Arnault’s role model and biggest business inspiration is another person on this list: CEO and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Warren Buffett. He admires Buffett’s patience most of all. Buffett has always adhered to a “buy-and-hold” strategy when it comes to investments, advocating patience over daily scrutiny of the markets.
Arnault believes patience is an essential quality any entrepreneur who wants to be successful should have. He has also demonstrated this value.
He expressed an interest in acquiring luxury jewelry brand Bulgari back in 2001, but they declined. He spent ten years “courting” the brand. When it started to struggle in 2011, he pounced.
Until recently, the CEO and cofounder of electric carmaker Tesla was the richest person in the world with net worth of $226 billion. He dropped to number two after Tesla stock depreciated among other adverse occurrences. He’s currently worth “only” $146 billion.
Musk holds 13% ($51.5 billion) of Tesla. His other assets include the infamously acquired social medium Twitter ($11.6 billion), The Boring Company ($3.33 billion), and Space X ($48.9 billion). All three of these assets are private.
Musk’s main values are no surprise: idealism, (technological) innovation, creativity, curiosity, perseverance, attention to detail, freedom, and decisiveness.
He’s always looked for a new and better way to do things. He’s been known to fire people for saying they do things a certain way because “that’s how it’s always been done.” When he interviewed people for his companies, he’d ask them dozens and dozens of questions in their area of expertise. An engineer applying for a job at SpaceX remembers being “grilled” for hours about engineering details. He thought Musk was testing him at first, but then realized it was pure curiosity.
Musk has a photographic memory and remembers past events down to the most minute of details. A case in point is the disastrous launch of his rocket on an island, to which he flew often and endured the very harsh conditions there along with the rest of the SpaceX team. He remembered every detail as if it had been recorded somewhere.
He is notoriously persistent. Turning Tesla and SpaceX into successful companies was an arduous task, and few believed he’d succeed. The press dragged him and mocked his efforts extensively. The first few attempts to launch SpaceX rockets failed miserably – there were even some explosions – but that didn’t deter him. It was also difficult to build a truly roadworthy Tesla. At the beginning, there were serious issues with car parts. Musk overcame every obstacle, believing in his ideas when everyone else had ceased to.
Freedom seems to be a value he upholds. He promised to reduce censorship and improve freedom of expression on Twitter.
At the other end of the specter, he doesn’t seem to value relationships very much. Mary Beth Brown worked as his assistant and right hand for 12 years. She asked for a raise and he fired her.
He doesn’t seem to have been very successful in his personal life. He and his first wife Justine were having marital problems and she wanted to go to couples’ therapy. He endured very few sessions, eventually saying, “We either solve this today or get a divorce.” He filed for divorce the next day.
Jeff Bezos founded and chairs Amazon, where he holds a stake of 10%. The other assets making up his $120 billion fortune are Blue Origin ($9.15 billion) and The Washington Post ($250 million), both private. He also has $14.6 billion in cash.
Bezos values generosity and often donates to charity. He told CNN in an interview that he plans to give away his whole wealth in his lifetime. He donated $100 million to Dolly Parton’s charity recently.
He tries to avoid conflict and values cooperation, hard work, and teamwork. He points to teamwork as the main reason for Amazon’s success. He said “building Amazon wasn’t easy” and added that it wouldn’t have happened without a solid team.
Gautam Adani is the richest man in Asia and the chairman and founder of Adani Group, a conglomerate which includes:
- Adani Enterprises
- Adani Ports & SEZ
- Adani Green Energy
- Adani Transmission
- Adani Power
- Adani Total Gas
- Adani Oil and Edibles
Adani has a net worth of $113 billion. He owns 75% of Adani Enterprises, Adani Transmissions, and Adani Power, 66% of Adani Ports & Special Economic Zone, 61% of Adani Green Energy, and 37% of Adani Total Gas.
Mr. Adani values perseverance and speaks about his role model Dhirubhai Ambani with admiration. Dhirubhai didn’t come from a rich family, but he became a world-class entrepreneur.
Adani is good at maintaining relationships. He values loyalty and never backtracks on a deal. He never squeezes out partners and believes in freedom of market competition. He doesn’t block competitors and respects fair play. If he wants to buy out a shareholder, he pays more than the market price.
He praises achievement and believes people should always be polite and exercise self-control. He demonstrated this value against the backdrop of a recent scandal. Adani Group lost $70 billion of market value due to accusations by short selling firm Hindenburg Research, who claimed the conglomerate had perpetrated fraud and stock manipulation.
The ordeal did not provoke an angry public outburst in Mr. Adani. Instead, he wrote and issued a 413-page document refuting the accusations.
According to the values statement of Adani Group, the company aims “to enrich lives and help build infrastructure by creating sustainable values.” This could overlap with Mr. Adani’s personal values.
The cofounder of Microsoft has a net worth of $111 billion, making him the fifth richest person in existence. He holds just 1.4% of Microsoft. His other assets include $57.2 billion in cash, which seems to speak against the argument that inflation eats away at deposits.
Bill Gates cofounded Microsoft back in 1975 because he wanted to change the world. He values not only change, but also innovation and growth. He is a cautious man who believes prevention is the best form of protection.
When asked about his new book on how to prevent a second pandemic in an interview on the Today Show, he compared pandemic prevention to having a team of “firefighters” deployed at key points around the world.
He says there should be a better balance when it comes to free speech. He’s not in favor of free speech above all, citing the risk of disinformation that comes with it, but believes the digital realm is overwhelmingly positive in this respect.
He values positivity and tries to make the best of everything. When asked about his divorce from Melissa Gates, he focused on the good things, saying, “We were partners and grew up together.”
He said, “I made mistakes and I take responsibility” in response to her accusations of infidelity, but didn’t actually admit to anything.
His other values include curiosity and humility. He is said to have a voracious appetite for knowledge. When asked about what advice he’d give, he says, “I’m not an expert. One should be humble about success; there’s a tricky aspect to it.”
Warren Buffett is the CEO of the multinational corporation Berkshire-Hathaway. He’s currently the sixth-richest person in the world, boasting a net worth of $108 billion. He holds a 14% stake in Berkshire Hathaway as well as $1.13 billion in cash.
It has been argued that Buffett’s core values almost entirely account for his success. They are integrity, frugality, and trust.
He believes reputation matters more than anything else. He wrote in a statement in 1991:
Keep your promises. Be earnest with everyone. Treat your suppliers and employees well and never shortchange the customer.
He has said he’d be more forgiving of an employee who lost money for his company than of one who caused it to lose face.
Buffett shares frugality as a value with a few other people on this list. All of the companies under Berkshire-Hathaway are budget-conscious. To him, frugality means avoiding debt, reducing overhead, and maintaining an austere entrepreneurship model.
Finally, the hectobillionaire trusts his employees to make decisions on all company levels. He believes trust is at the core of leadership and appreciates employees who give him bad news early. He would rather live with a few hasty and costly decisions than deal with the consequences of slow decisions, which always include numerous “invisible costs.”
Larry Ellison is the CTO, chair, and cofounder of Oracle. He’s the last on the list of hectobillionaires with net worth of exactly $100 billion at the time of writing. He holds a stake of more than 40% in Oracle, $18 billion in cash, and $6.5 billion equity in Tesla.
Ellison values hard work, competition, and generosity. He was CEO of Oracle from 1977 to 2014 and the oldest founder and CEO in the tech industry when he was 70. He is unwilling to retire and makes no mention of the subject. At 78, he remains very active, and retirement isn’t a likely prospect.
Competition is a value that supports his value of hard work. He says he is driven to keep going despite his achievements and his age because he loves competition so much. He shares he is “addicted to winning.” He likes testing his limits and is a proponent of lifelong learning.
Upon signing the Giving Pledge organized by Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, Ellison revealed plans to give away “at least 95%” of his wealth to charity. It emerged he had been donating quietly up until that point, but was now making his philanthropism public because Buffett had asked him to set an example.
Paradoxically, he also values extravagance. Ellison doesn’t hide the fact that he owns multiple mansions, yachts, and a private golf course, and funds tennis tournaments. He has expensive collections of artworks, cars, airplanes, and boats.
The cofounder of Alphabet (Google) has a net worth of $88.8 billion. He holds 6% of Alphabet and $14 billion in cash, among other assets.
Page values the freedom of self-determination more than anything. His dream was to make Google a workplace that encourages employees to follow their dreams. This stems from his education at Montessori School, where he went with Sergey Brin.
At Montessori, the focus of education was on “revolutionizing the individual.” The founder of the franchise, Maria Montessori, believed that children’s freedom was of paramount importance. She found it imperative to let children be active and grow personal agency. Page adopted a policy at Google where all staff had to dedicate a fifth of its work time to personal projects.
Page’s childhood hero was the ingenious inventor Nikola Tesla and he adopted technological advancement as a value at a young age. In his teens, he realized Tesla had died in poverty because he hadn’t retained control of his inventions. It dawned on him that he’d have to start his own business if he wanted to be in control of his products.
Steve Ballmer, who owns the NBA team Los Angeles Clippers, is worth $86.3 billion. He met Bill Gates at Harvard and became Microsoft’s first commercial manager in 1980. He then received a share of 8% of the company, which is now down to 4%. He was CEO of Microsoft from 2000 to 2014.
Some of Ballmer’s personal values overlap with those of billionaires like Larry Page (self-determination) and Bill Gates (philanthropy and change). He also values consistency, self-improvement, personal excellence, empowerment, teamwork, and shared goals.
It appears those involved with Microsoft share a bond beyond their interaction in company dealings. Microsoft executives want to change the world, to help people realize their full potential, and to instill the company’s values, vision, and mission in all of their employees. Ballmer is no exception. He wrote in an email in 2013:
This company has always had a big vision — to help people realize their full potential and empower them…for the activities they value the most. Value is the key word, and I’m a fan of empowerment.
In October 2023, he donated $500,000 to support California’s Proposition 1. If this proposition had been passed into law, it would have created a statutory amendment securing the access to contraception and the right to an abortion in California, largely a pro-choice state. Ballmer and his wife donated $1 million in 2020 in support of affirmative action.
Carlos Slim Helu
The only person of Hispanic origin on this list holds the majority share of telecom America Movil and about $8 billion in cash. His other assets include Inmuebles Carso, Grupo Carso, and Grupo Financiero. Slim was the richest person in the world between 2010 and 2013, but he had dropped out of the top 10 in 2022. He is now back with a net worth of $85.7 billion.
Slim values frugality, philanthropy, and patriotism. He is a flexible and shrewd man. His propensity for austerity dates from his childhood, when his father encouraged him and his five siblings to learn about finance. He gave each one of them a notebook to record expenses. Carlos was great at math and had started buying shares in the Bank of Mexico by the time he was 12.
He once said, “Bad governments worry about the rich; good governments worry about the poor.” He did something revolutionary as head of America Movil – he eliminated monthly phone bills for his poorest customers and gave them the option to pay only for the airtime they used.
He has donated to various charities. His Carso Foundation has been developing Mexican human resources through training and education programs since 1986.
He demonstrated patriotism when Mexico experienced a severe economic downturn in 1982. Unlike many other Mexican entrepreneurs who rushed to move their funds out, he was steadfast in his support of his country. He acquired Sanborn’s café and store franchise and the Mexican branches of General Tire and Reynolds Aluminum. His wealth grew as the economy recovered, and his acquisitions accelerated.