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Saturday, 3 December 2016

Why Money is a Good Servant but a Bad Master

“If we are born poor, it is not our fault, but if we die poor, it is!”…… Bill Gates

In his book “You Can Win” Shiv Khera tells an interesting story of men who by all accounts had opportunities to be great but they all ended up in ruin. This is how he tells it:

“In 1923, eight of the wealthiest people in the world met. Their combined wealth, it is estimated, exceeded the wealth of the government of the United States at that time. These men certainly knew how to make a living and accumulate wealth. But let’s examine what happened to them 25 years later.

President of the largest steel company, Charles Schwab, lived on borrowed capital for five years before he died bankrupt.

President of the largest gas company, Howard Hopson, went insane.

One of the greatest commodity traders, Arthur Cotton, died insolvent.

President of the New York Stock Exchange, Richard Whitney, was sent to jail.

A member of the President’s Cabinet, Albert Fall, was pardoned from jail to go home and die in peace.

The greatest “bear” on Wall Street, Jesse Livermore, committed suicide.

President of the world’s greatest monopoly, Ivan Krueger, committed suicide.

President of the Bank of International Settlement, Leon Frazier, committed suicide.”

These are facts, which many business schools will prefer you don’t know. Many people are supposed to learn a lesson or two on why they can not afford to ignore or neglect any of the pillars that provide balance for meaningful existence. But many still do not learn. People have continued to pursue money as if nothing else matters, a direct consequence of which has been one tragedy after another.

The life and times of one of the richest men that ever lived Mr. Aristotle Onassis engendered yet another familiar tragedy. Aristotle Onassis was born on January 20, 1906 in the Greek quarter of Smyrna, an opulent city on the western coast of Turkey to humble parentage. He left home at the age of 17 after a family quarrel and sailed for South America. He arrived in Argentina and went straight into trading on tobacco, a Greek specialty at the time. With an earlier background of poor school grades, riotous and rebellious childhood, he faced a tough life in Argentina. He traded in illegal items particularly liquor and made friends with Turkish Generals who aided his illegal liquor business. He progressed in business and later went into buying old ships and refurbishing them to make them sea-worthy. It is through shipping that he made his fortune because America was then just opening up to Europe for the massive trade that ensued during and after World War II. This period enabled Mr. Onassis to amass so much wealth that grew in leaps and bounds. It was estimated to be worth over 300 million dollars in 1956. At the time if this death, his fortune was in the billions of dollars range.

Mr. Onassis was so engrossed in the business of making money that his marital and family relationships suffered a terrible neglect. Before his death on March 15, 1975, he had gone through three turbulent and heavily negatively publicized marriages. The last, being the marriage to an American former first lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. Mr. Onassis headed a disjointed and non-functional nuclear family that ended up a complete disaster. His son Alexander died in a plane crash while the only child that survived him Christina despite having a stupendous amount of money inherited from her father died heart-broken and dejected. She was widely quoted before her untimely death that she had realized “money can not buy happiness.” She lived and died very young an unhappy and lonely lady. Wealth to the Onassis family did not bring happiness and peace of mind which money can not buy.

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