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Archive for the ‘People’ Category

China/Hongkong – food for thought‏

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

whoever wrote this, thank you, very well said…

You hate the Filipino people for the hostage fiasco that unfortunate incident that went out of control at the end. This was a hostage situation that was under control and which netted 7 Chinese tourists to be released upon the efforts of our policemen.

You appear and sound sanctimonious and have even stepped upon our sovereignty. You have demanded apology, the moon and the heavens. You hate the Filipino people as if we wanted this unfortunate incident to happen. First and foremost, we offer our condolences to the families of the 8 that were killed in this incident. Secondly, we are sorry for the bungled handling of this hostage taking. It was unfortunate, it was an accident,
we never planned it that way. Is it fair to blame a whole nation for a
situation that was never planned?

Let me ask you this question, “Should we hate you also for the lead poisoning caused by the paint you used in your baby furniture and toys for the children of the world, Should we hate you also for the use of cardboard in the “siopao” that you sell to tourists? Should we hate you also for the melamine contamination wherein not 8, but hundreds, maybe even thousands have suffered and some even died?

Or, let us talk of Filipino casualties. A few years ago, 3 Filipino tourists, all surnamed Madrigal, a family of 5 were walking on Tienemen Square and Beijing. One Chinese stabbed the father and two of his children, killing all three. Were you even sorry for what this one Chinese did? Did the Filipino people even demand that China apologized for this unfortunate incident. This was PRE-MEDITATED MURDER.

Just as the use of lead, cardboard, melamine was pre-meditated – used because they were cheaper materials, in order to generate PROFITS for the Chinese businessman. Did you pay damages the same way you are demanding damages from the Filipino nation and people.

Where was the anger of the Chinese and Hongkong people? Did you even apologize to the world? My God in the case of melanine, you even kept this information from the world, until you were exposed for what you are!!!

Enough! We symphatize but don’t blame the Filipino people.

So you want to send our OFWs home, that take care of your children? They play an important part in your lives. Both spouses are able to work, earn money because of the tender loving care being heaped on your children by Filipino maids and yayas/amahs. While you pay our OFWs for the work they do, you earn more for the love and care they bestow on your children. Go ahead, send our OFWs home. Let us see how that will affect your family incomes.

Enough!

Pass this to all Filipinos you know. If you love your country, perhaps you’ll send this.

Creating Wealth From Scratch

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

Creating Wealth From Scratch

Creating wealth from scratch
is extremely tough for the majority of people, in fact if you look at the statistics of wealth  in the world only 1% of the worlds population have true wealth  and 99% of the population are suffering from a lack of wealth.

To start creating wealth you must have a wealth mindset and  what I mean by this is you must be able to think the right way to accept wealth to come into your life.

This is why 99% of the population struggle as they are constantly bombarded by media and politicians that the world is in chaos and this sends out messages to the “normal” person they should struggle.

Do politicians and bankers struggle?

Can they pay their bills and claim expenses?

Yes of course they can because they know the secret, if you can call it a secret to be able to have the power to control their own destiny.

To be able to control your own life and finances can be easy by altering your habitual thinking and stop following the herd and start to lead your life in the direction of becoming wealthy and succesful.

Every millionaire, multi-millionaire and most importantly billionaire have this way of thinking and of course to start getting the opportunities to become wealthy you must start doing the same.

Your habitual way of thinking, feeling and focus determines your lifes path and dominates if you can start creating wealth from scratch.

Start focusing on the good and positive and mix this with a feeling of strong and exciting emotion where you want to see your life heading.

Visualise your own success and totally commit to making your goals happen.

Creating wealth from scratch doesn’t have to be difficult but you must be able to deal with the setbacks, all self made millionaires who have created wealth have all had failures but the secret is to never give up.

You can do this too.

This article was brought you by Edward James who is a consultant for online / offline companies and helps the everyday man and woman become more wealthy and successful.
You can get Edward’s f.r.e.e eBook “The Secret Of Becoming Rich!” at the link below
http://www.secretofbecomingrich.com

Exploratory Teaching Goals: Free Report On Home Schooling

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

The free report can be downloaded here: http://exploratoryteachinggoals.com/

Do you have kids or grandkids, or know some other kids you love? How would you like them to learn the secrets of success and happiness and be able to start practicing them in the early years of life?

Well here is the answer: beautifully illustrated, downloadable e-books for children on goal setting and visualization, plus a parents’ guide.

Check it out here.
http://exploratoryteachinggoals.com/free4kids.php

Do your children know how to plan for and work towards getting what they really want? It’s up to you to be the teacher! And it’s easy, when you have the right help.

Winsome Coutts, a mom, grand-mom and teacher, has pulled together a team of illustrators, self-help experts, curriculum developers and children’s writers to create a beautiful, downloadable, set of three e-books that guides kids in creating their own reality through goal setting and visualization based on the principle of the Law of Attraction.

What makes this product so special? Go for Your Goals – For Kids, with its whimsical illustrations, immediately engages the imagination, speaking to children in words they can understand. The books build on natural skills that kids already have, like dreaming and pretending. Kids learn the secret of making their wishes come true, how to turn their wishes into goals, and how to strategize to achieve what they aim for. They also learn good reasons why they should do all this, and with that, the motivation they need before they can apply themselves and learn.

Check it all out at http://exploratoryteachinggoals.com/free4kids.php

Goal setting for kids! It’s what we’ve been waiting for.

Bhumibol Adulyadej

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

Bhumibol Adulyadej

Make no mistake, Bhumibol Adulyadej, also known as “Rama IX”, is a heavy player in the scheme of the world and a person of extremes. As the King of Thailand, he is simultaneously the world’s richest head of government, the world’s longest-serving current head-of-state, and the longest-serving monarch in Thai history. He ascended to the throne after the death of his brother, King Ananda Mahidol, in 1946.

There is much confusion about the extent of his wealth. His net worth was estimated at $35 billion USD by Forbes magazine; however, conflicting reports about how the Thai government handles the accounting surfaced and now his wealth is estimated to be between $10 and $20 billion USD.

It turns out that many of the king’s assets are managed by the Crown Property Bureau (CPB), which is counted as an agency of the Thai government. And yet the CPB functions very much like a business; it is the majority shareholder of the construction firm Christiani & Nielsen, Deves Insurance – which has a monopoly on government-approved contracts, Siam Commercial Bank, the telecommunications firm Shin Corporation, and other companies. The CPB also has massive real estate holdings; they get to charge rent on the dirt under the Four Seasons Hotel Bangkok, the Suan Lum Night Bazaar, Siam Paragon and Central World Tower. Oh, and the CPB is exempt from taxes.

Now, as if the confusion over what money exactly does and does not belong in his pocket weren’t enough, the nature of his government is also the source of conflicting reports. He’s king, in the line of secession from the Chakri Dynasty, so it’s a monarchy. But Thailand has a constitution, a House of Representatives, and a 200-seat Senate, so it’s a constitutional democratic monarchy. But then much of the reform of the elected government was overthrown by a military junta in 2006, establishing martial law, so it’s a military dictatorship. But martial law has been revoked by January of 2007, a new constitution has been written, and the country was holding elections again by the end of 2007. At this point, all attempts to label the government of Thailand are useless. Most governments recognize Thailand as a monarchy.

An interesting side note is that the Chakri Dynasty also gave us “Rama IV”, King Mongkut, who is best known to the English-speaking world as the king portrayed in the Rodgers and Hammerstein stage play musical “The King and I”.

What can be pinned down is that Bhumibol Adulyadej was born December 5, 1927, at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States. He is the son of Prince Mahidol Adulyadej. What a Thai prince of the Chakri Dynasty was doing in Boston, Massachusetts, was picking up his certificate in the Public Health program at Harvard University. Bhumibol Adulyadej attended primary school in Bangkok and then in 1933 the family moved to Switzerland, where he finished his secondary schooling at the École Nouvelle de la Suisse Romande in Chailly-sur-Lausanne.

After ascending to the throne in 1946, he has since of course resided in Thailand, although that hasn’t kept him from other adventures. For one thing, he has a glass eye – not from a heroic sword duel, but from an automobile accident when he was driving in France. By the way, his brother and former King Ananda Mahidol died in 1946 from a gunshot to the head while asleep in his bedroom, but his death is not officially listed as an assassination. Oh, and he’s married to his first cousin once removed, now known as Queen Sirikit. Also, his early reign left him largely a figurehead, under the government of military dictator Plaek Pibulsonggram, but Sarit Dhanarajata overthrew Plaek Pibulsonggram and became the new military dictator, who then reappointed King Bhumibol Adulyadej to political power. Other military coups and counter-coups have occurred under his reign until they all blend together into chaos.

Beyond all the clouds, smoke, and fog surrounding his existence, it cannot be denied that Bhumibol Adulyadej is a colorful character living some exotic kind of life. Perhaps even he, himself, could not accurately describe his circumstances and the events which happen around him.

Carlos Slim Helú

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

Carlos Slim Helú

Carlos Slim Helú is currently ranked in the top three of the world’s richest people, jockeying for position between Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. At the age of 67, Fortune magazine ranked him as the world’s richest man, though at the time of this writing he has slipped to number two with estimated wealth of $60 billion USD. The surprising thing is that he has done so in Mexico, a country not at all known for its wealth and not on anyone’s top list of countries hosting billionaires or even millionaires. As we will find out with Carlos Slim Helú, the surprises just never stop coming.

His story begins with a 14-year-old Lebanese immigrant named Youssef Salim who moved to Mexico City, Mexico, and changed his name to Julián Slim Haddad in 1902. He spoke no Spanish, and was immigrating to flee the Ottoman Empire, on the insistence of his mother who sent him off before he could be drafted into the military there. Beginning his life in this manner, the boy grew up to start a dry goods store and buy some real estate, and was to marry and father six children.

The youngest of this family was Carlos Slim Helú, born January 28, 1940. Carlos was to study to be an engineer at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, where he also taught Algebra and Linear Programming at the same time he was studying for his degree. He completed his studies in 1961 with a civil engineering degree, but already had a net worth of $400,000, in part starting from his first stock purchase at the tender age of 12! He founded his first company, Grupo Carso, in 1965 out of two acquired smaller companies. By 1967, he had already founded a brokerage house, a real estate firm, a construction company, and a soda bottling plant.

Leveraging this scatter-shoot of business ventures, he steadily ascended the corporate ladder through the next two decades. He purchased numerous other companies throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s. In 1976, he purchased a 60% share of a cigarette-pack label-printing plant named Galas de México. In 1980, he incorporated Grupo Carso into a public company, and changed it’s name to Grupo Galas. In 1981, he became the majority stockholder in Cigarros la Tabacelera Mexicana, Mexico’s second largest cigarette manufacturer.

Mexico is not an easy country to build a fortune in, and Carlos Slim Helú seemed to take that into account, while at the same time pursuing aggressive business and investing strategies so that he was always ahead of every dip in the economy. When, as a result of the Oil Crisis of the 1970’s, Mexico defaulted on its external debt in 1982 and experienced devaluation of the peso, Helú bought controlling interests in many Mexican companies cheaply, mainly using the revenues from Cigarros la Tabacelera. These companies included a mining firm, a copper product manufacturer, a tire company, and Sanborn Hermanos, a retail and restaurant chain. Indeed, the variety of business ventures could fill a book in itself.

The turning point for Helú, already a millionaire by this time, came in 1990 when he acquired Telmex, also known as Teléfonos de México S.A.B. de C.V., from the Mexican government under then-president Carlos Salinas de Gortari. Telmex became Helú’s greatest cash-earner, since the telecommunications company operates basically as a legal monopoly. Telmex provides much of Latin America with land-line telephone service, mobile phone service under the brand name of América Móvil, Internet service under the brand Telmex Internet Directo Personal, and most recently television through Internet protocol.

Today, Carlos Slim Helú remains the most powerful business mogul in Mexico, with holdings or interests in virtually every possible market and industry. It is virtually impossible for a citizen of Mexico to spend even a little money without some of the profit going to Helú, whether it’s for a night at a motel, a bottle of pop, a car, a shirt, a ticket to a ball game, or a computer. His three sons, Carlos Slim Domit, Marco Antonio Slim Domit and Patrick Slim Domit, today do most of the managing of his many businesses and holdings.

Helú is perhaps the most amazing success story in the history of business. Starting from being the son of an immigrant shopkeeper, he has worked a step at a time to build a corporate empire from scratch. He has since won many awards and recognitions from the Mexican government, and devotes a great deal of charitable donation and time as an activist towards improving the quality of life in his adopted country.

David Thomson and family

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

David Thomson and family

David Thomson is the 33rd richest person in the world, with a net worth approaching $18.9 billion USD. He is also the richest person in Canada, and the current chairman of Thomson Reuters.

David Thomson was born June 12, 1957. His full title is “David Thomson, 3rd Baron Thomson of Fleet”, in the United Kingdom peerage system. He is the son of the late Kenneth Thomson, 2nd Baron Thomson of Fleet, and the grandson of the late Roy Thomson, 1st Baron Thomson of Fleet. The Thompson Baronage has traditionally made its fortune through the media publishing business.

To trace the progress of the family’s business, we must start in 1934, with Roy Thomson buying his first newspaper, the Timmins Press, in Timmins, Ontario, for a mere $200. By 1949, Roy Thompson had leveraged his business operations to encompass a wide array of companies, including radio stations and newspapers in various Ontario locations, along with hairdressers, a kitchen furnishings manufacturer, and a company that manufactures ice-cream cones, all within the Ontario area. By the 1950’s, he had acquired 19 newspapers, and had been elected to the position of president of the Canadian Daily Newspaper Publishers Association.

Through the late 1950’s and into the 1960’s, he bought STV Central Ltd., the commercial television franchise for Central Scotland. Roy Thomson described this transaction as “a license to print money” at the time. He went on to acquire more than 200 newspapers in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, including the Kemsley group of newspapers, and ‘The Times’ newspaper from members of the Astor family. And at last in 1964, he was given the title “Baron Thomson of Fleet”, forsaking his Canadian citizenship and becoming a British citizen in the process.

He was succeeded by his son, Kenneth Thomson, born on September 1, 1923, who became chairman of the Thomson Corporation and inherited the Baronial title. Although he was entitled to the honor, Kenneth Thomson never took his seat in the House of Lords. Also, since he was born in Canada, he had Canadian citizenship, even while being a British Baron. He was quoted in an interview on this situation, explaining, “In London I’m Lord Thomson, in Toronto I’m Ken. I have two sets of Christmas cards and two sets of stationery.” During Kenneth Thompson’s reign, he achieved the status of the ninth-richest person in the world with assets of $19.6 billion USD. He also served in the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II.

Kenneth Thomson (who is not at all to be confused with the other Kenneth Thompson of the C programming language, Unix, and Bell Labs fame), maintained a very down-to-Earth life as an ordinary citizen, who was remarkable for never losing the commoner touch. He might be seen walking his dogs in the neighborhood, for instance, while wearing casual, worn-in clothes. In spite of this attitude, he nevertheless leveraged the Thompson corporate empire to even greater power, adding the “Globe and Mail” in Toronto, “The Times” and “Sunday Times” in Britain, and “The Jerusalem Post” in Israel. Most notably, he branched out into the book publishing business. This branch of the business became the famous Thomson Publication (UK), the leading publisher of textbooks and reference manuals. He also acquired Britannia Airways in 1965.

So at last we come to David Thomson, the third in the line of Barons of Fleet, who succeeded the title upon his father’s passing in 2006. David Thomson has not been idle in the interim, having worked in several companies controlled by his father’s empire, founded his own real estate business, real estate firm Osmington Incorporated, which operates separate from the Thompson Corporation, and having worked closely with the Art Gallery of Ontario. David Thomson has so far been very shy of the press, and so he is very private and seldom grants interviews. Nevertheless, he has so far assumed the duties of the Thompson Corporation with vigor, having just bought the news agency Reuters Group Limited to add to his vast holdings.

From Billionaire to Bust

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

From Billionaire to Bust

Just because you’ve made a billion dollars doesn’t mean your problems are over! For one thing, you could lose it all. For another thing, you could get yourself into such a pickle that all your money can’t help you. Here’s a list of people who had bad ends even though they saw their bank accounts expand to a billion dollars or more in their life time.

Edmond Safra – died in fire

Edmond Safra rose to fame in 1983 through selling the Trade Development Bank to American Express for a tidy $450 million, a business deal which, it turns out, was bitterly contested. His personal fortune was an estimated at $2.5 billion. But, he had Parkinson’s disease which necessitated live-in care. And in 1999, a fire broke out in his home and killed him. A court ruling in 2002 convicted his nurse, Ted Maher, of the crime of arson. Maher actually confessed to setting the fire but claimed that his motive was to stage a fake rescue. The exact facts of the case are disputed, and efforts to retry it are underway.

Ashraf Marwan – fall from window, possible murder

Ashraf Marwan was a billionaire in Egypt and allegedly either a spy for Israel or a counter-spy. He was chief of staff to Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and named head of the Arab Industrialists Group. He was a business partner with Mohamed al-Fayed, the owner of Harrod’s department stores and father of Dodi Al-Fayed (see next entry). Ashraf was certainly caught up in Egyptian politics with allegations of his being a spy when on June 27, 2007, he fell out of the window of his fifth-floor apartment, and died of a ruptured aorta. Police are investigating this as a murder.

Dodi Al-Fayed – car crash

It was Dodi who was riding alongside Princess Diana on August 31, 1997, when that fateful car crash took both of their lives. Dodi was the son of the Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed, and was an accomplished movie producer.

Kenneth Lay – heart failure (suicide?), facing conviction and bankruptcy

Kenneth Lay is the poster child for tragic billionaires everywhere. He is of course the famous CEO of Enron, who at one point seemed so on top of the world that nothing could stop him – his company was claiming $111 billion in revenue. He co-chaired the G8 summit and chaired the 1992 Republican National Convention. he was even getting tapped as a possible candidate for President Bush’s Treasury secretary. Then Enron went bust, Lay was forced to resign, and then Lay was indicted by a grand jury of ten counts of fraud and conspiracy in May of 2006. Two months later, he was found dead, apparently of heart failure but it was said that he might have committed suicide with poison.

Alberto Vilar – went broke, convicted of fraud

Alberto Vilar made a name for himself investing in tech stocks and promising to build opera houses – and losing money in the former and welshing on the latter. While he briefly achieved billionaire status, he lost it just as quick and was eventually arrested for defrauding investors of million of dollars in 2005.

Sanjiv Sidhu – just went broke

Another would-be technology wizard, Sanjiv Sidhu built a giant fortune through his software company, i2 Technologies. By the year 2000, he was Forbes’ 24th richest American, with $10 billion to his name. But then, our old friend the Tech Bubble of 2000 burst, and with it Sidhu’s wealth – it is now estimated that he’s down to $100 million, and nobody even remembers what i2 Technologies does anymore. Well, OK, $100 million isn’t “broke” as you’d call it, but we’re talking relative here.

Hassanal Bolkiah

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

Hassanal Bolkiah

His full title is “Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan of Brunei”, and he is the 17th richest billionaire in the world, with a net worth of $23 billion USD. He is the total controller of the finances of the Nation-State of Brunei. His holdings are vast, including the assets of Brunei Shell Petroleum. Basically every drop of petroleum pumped out of the ground or refined within the border of Brunei belongs to him.

The Sultan was born July 15, 1946, in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, to Omar Ali Saifuddien III, the 28th Sultan of Brunei, making Hassanal the 29th.

Brunei is a tiny country. If you take the largest land mass of Indonesia (an island archipelago in the sea between China and Australia) which is the island of Borneo, and split it, the top half of that is the nation of Malaysia. If Malaysia were a piece of cheese and a mouse took a single nibble out of it, that’s Brunei, on the north coast facing China. It has an area of 2,226 square miles or 5,765 square kilometers, which makes it smaller than the United States state of Delaware. The population is an estimated 381,371, less than the population of Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA. Brunei Darussalam gained its international independence from the United Kingdom in 1984.

Brunei is an absolute monarchy, and the Sultanate maintains full executive authority as both head of state and head of government. The country effectively operates under martial law since the 1960’s. While the Sultan is advised by an appointed legislative council and there has been some attempt at allowing elections and having an appointed parliament, the government is still basically whatever the Sultan says. Hassanal Bolkiah inherits the Sultan title in a dynasty that has stood since the 15th century since Muhammad Shah, the first Sultan of Brunai, of the years 1405–1415.

Crude oil and natural gas production account for nearly half of Brunei’s Gross Domestic Product, which was last tracked as $6.84 billion in 2003. Brunei is the third-largest oil producer in Southeast Asia, averaging about 180,000 barrels per day. It is also the fourth-largest exporter of liquid natural gas in the Asia-Pacific region. The labor division of Brunei works out to about 48% government and services, 42% production of oil and gas and related services, and 10% agriculture and fishing. So essentially, as the price of oil goes, so goes the fortunes of Brunei.

The chief oil and gas production company in Brunei is Brunei Shell Petroleum, operated in a joint venture of equal shares between the Brunei Government and Shell oil. It also operates the country’s only refinery, with a distillation capacity of 10,000 barrels per day. Brunei’s natural gas is produced by the Brunei Liquefied Natural Gas plant, most of the output of which is sold to Japan.

The government of Brunei is so closely tied to the fortunes of the fossil fuels market that the citizens jokingly refer to their economic state as “Shellfare”, indicating that they are provided with welfare from the sale of oil. Citizens of Brunei pay neither personal nor corporate taxes, and get free education and medical services as well as subsidized food and housing. The country is basically considered wealthy and though it lacks a great deal of infrastructure, it’s citizens enjoy a relatively high standard of living.

As for the Sultan himself, he seems to be fun to live under. He built Jerudong Park, an amusement park larger than Hong Kong Disneyland, out of his own pocket and it’s free to visit and ride the rides. The Sultan himself collects cars – we’re talking anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 cars, a collection totaling $4 billion USD. The car collection includes 500 Rolls-Royces, giving it a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records, and other notable cars in his collection include a Porsche Carrera GT, a Lamborghini Diablo Jota, a Porsche 959, a Bugatti EB110, a Lamborghini Murcielago LP640, a Maybach 62, a Jaguar XJR-15 and six Dauer 962’s.

Hassanal Bolkiah, 29th Sultan of Brunei, lives today with his three wives and twelve children at his own palace, the Istana Nurul Iman, which holds the world’s record for the largest palace at 200,000 square meters of luxuriously furnished living space. If you’re in the neighborhood, do drop by for a visit, and be sure to ask him if he can give you a ride.

Hiroshi Yamauchi

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

Hiroshi Yamauchi

Hiroshi Yamauchi is a name which should be well-known to anyone who likes video games. He is the former president of Nintendo Co., Ltd., just recently having stepped down from that position in 2002 after a reign of 53 years. He has a net worth of $7.8 billion USD as of 2008 and is both the richest person in Japan and the 149th richest person in the world.

Hiroshi Yamauchi was born November 7, 1927 in Kyoto, Japan. He attended preparatory school, but his studies were interrupted in his teen years by the outbreak of World War II. Although he was too young to enlist, he was sent to work in the factories. After the war in 1945, Hiroshi went to Waseda University to study law, but fate was not done with him yet.

Even most video game fans might be stunned to know that Nintendo is over 100 years old, and that its original product was playing cards! Nintendo was founded in 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi as a playing card company called Nintendo Koppai, which produced Hanafuda cards, which are used in many popular games the same way the Western poker deck is. The card business was actually doing alright, and it was this company of which Hiroshi’s grandfather, Fusajiro Yamauchi, was president.

In 1949, when Hiroshi was just 22 years old, Fusajiro Yamauchi suffered a stroke. Since he was president of Nintendo an had no clear successor, his own son having abandoned the family, Fusajiro Yamauchi summoned Hiroshi and literally appointed him from his deathbed to be his successor.

The change of leadership did not sit well with the company’s staff. Hiroshi Yamauchi had to quell a strike by the employees, and ruthlessly asserted his authority by firing anybody who didn’t agree with him. After this, he changed the company’s name to Nintendo Karuta, and moved it to a new headquarters building. He had an epiphany in 1956 on a visit to the United States, and saw that playing cards just weren’t going to lead to a promising future. Thus, he changed the company’s focus to general family games and toys. So Hiroshi basically threw out everything but the company stationary when he took over.

The most successful branch of the toy business was a mechanical arcade game to be played with a light gun, called Kousenjuu. The influence of this game can still be noticed in games such as “Duck Hunt”. The toy business was doing quite well, when in 1974 Nintendo bought the rights to market the Magnavox Odyssey home video game system in Japan. Nintendo started making other electronic games in the 1970’s and had some success but they were still many steps from fame. Finally, the era of quarter-operated video game arcades arrived in 1980, and Nintendo at last became a household name.

Nintendo’s first claim to fame is the arcade game “Donkey Kong”, released in 1981. It was the first to show what would become Nintendo’s official mascot, Mario. The game’s massive popularity world-wide led to sequels in the series, including Mario Brothers, Donkey Kong Jr., Super Mario Brothers, and many others. Nintendo came to rule the arcade, but their own home video game systems were doing dismal business. Then in about 1983, the great arcade game market crash happened, when consumers worldwide just got bored with the stale technology of then-existing game technology. Nintendo was ready at home for them.

Nintendo released the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985. It was revolutionary. The games were in color, they had music, they had attractive design, they were innovative, and the Nintendo system was both cheap and “plug n play”. It quite literally singlehandedly saved the home video game market. Nintendo consoles have sold to a worldwide audience, always being one of the top three console systems, ever since. Nintendo also practically invented the portable hand-held game market with the GameBoy, since before that time portable games were severely limited to calculator-style technology. Nintendo has not strayed very far from the video game market ever since.

Hiroshi Yamauchi is quite the accidental hero. If you had told him, at age 22, that this drop-out law student who had to go work in a playing card factory would eventually become the king of a computer game empire, he might have quite rightly looked at you like you were crazy. Hiroshi Yamauchi has been vigilant in spotting opportunities throughout his career with the Nintendo company, and stands today as an example of a person who had greatness thrust upon them, and rose to that challenge.

Ingvar Kamprad

Sunday, October 5th, 2008

Ingvar Kamprad

Ingvar Kamprad is currently the world’s eighth richest billionaire, at an estimated net worth of $31 billion USD. Even though you might not recognize the name, you’ll most definitely recognize the brand name of the home-furnishings retail chain he founded – IKEA! He is also the wealthiest person of European descent.

You could hardly ask for humbler beginnings than that of Ingvar Kamprad. He was born March 30, 1926, on a small farm called Elmtaryd, near the village of Agunnaryd in Ljungby Municipality in the province of Småland, Sweden. This is where the acronym “IKEA” comes from; it’s the first initials of his name, plus ‘E’ for Elmtaryd and ‘A’ for Agunnaryd.

Kamprad began his entrepreneur ambitions at a young age, by buying matches in bulk from Stockholm and selling them to the local community from the back of his bicycle. Later he expanded into also peddling fish, Christmas tree ornaments, seeds, pencils, and ball-point pens. His father took note of his son’s enterprising spirit, and gave him an allowance as a reward. Encouraged by this boost, Kamprad expanded his inventory ever further until he was selling wallets, watches, jewelery and stockings. Eventually he retired the bicycle to stay home and conduct his sales through mail order. It was at this time that he founded his company and named it IKEA.

In 1948, Ingvar Kamprad first added furniture to his catalog of products. The trouble with this is, even though he wasn’t trying to sell it from the back of a bicycle anymore, furniture was still bulky and expensive to mail out. So by 1955, he was selling his own furniture, which he would sell in a flat pack with assembly instructions. Kamprad just happened to have dyslexia, and himself had difficulty following complex directions. From this sprang his inspiration: he would make the assembly instructions easy to understand, even for him to use, and make the furniture components as easy to handle as possible.

After doing business from home for a number of years, he opened the first IKEA store in Sweden in 1958. From there, he expanded outside Sweden to Norway in 1963 and Denmark in 1969. Throughout the 1970’s, he continued to expand his chain of stores into other countries, including Switzerland, Germany, Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, Canada, and Singapore.

Ingvar Kamprad, famous for his micro-managing style, continued to apply his “keep it simple” philosophy to running an international retail business. The IKEA stores were planned from the ground up to be distinctive and efficient. The color motif is always blue with yellow accents, which are also the national colors of the Swedish flag. The store layout naturally takes customers through a showroom first, where they can see the furniture models assembled and on display, and then a warehouse section where customers can grab a cart and buy the furniture. In keeping with his vision of simplicity, he chose names for different furniture models so customers wouldn’t have to keep track of complex inventory numbers.

Today, IKEA furniture stores have expanded to virtually every developed country in the world. Notably, they are one of the few stores to keep a chain outlet in both Israeli and Islamic Middle Eastern countries. In addition, the store still maintains a bustling catalog business to reach parts of the world without a retain outlet.

Ingvar Kamprad himself has a world-wide reputation for his thrift – so much so that it’s difficult to sort out the facts from the apocrypha. He takes the subway to work, drives a 15-year old Volvo otherwise, flies economy class when he travels, and writes memos to his employees instructing them in such minute matters as using both sides of a piece of paper.

It cannot be denied that Ingvar Kamprad is a visionary genius. His improvements and innovations can be seen in every step of his business, from furniture design down to customer service. By applying his own principles of both frugality and accessibility, he has made a connection with customers who are also frugal and would prefer to be as self-sufficient as possible.


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