Let’s admit it, we all want to be rich. Why some succeed while others fail? Do we have to be an utterly relentless businessman/businesswoman in order to thrive in this consumption-focused world? That’s what I was hoping to learn from Stephen Jarislowsky, a Canadian billionaire investor and philanthropist.
Generally speaking, it seems that most self-made millionaires have dealt with important challenges before finding the road to success:
- Born in Germany, M. Jarislowsky emigrated to the United States,
- studied mechanical engineering at Cornell University,
- served the US Army,
- studied Japanese at the University of Chicago before serving in counter-intelligence in Japan after the war,
- got a MBA degree at Harvard Business School,
- worked as an engineer for Alcan Aluminium,
- started Jarislowsky, Fraser & Company Limited.
Today, he is Chairman and CEO and former President of Jarislowsky, Fraser, which he built into one of the largest and most successful investment management firms in Canada, managing assets of over $40 billion. His personal wealth has been estimated at $1.2 billion, making him the 25th richest person in Canada.
Not only his achievements impressed me, moreover I find his vision of life quite interesting. Stephen Jarislowsky sees the value in traveling, which gave him opportunities to learn languages, to grow accustomed to new cultures, to meet friends. I couldn’t agree more, body and mind grow closer during travels, when we get to new places where no one knows us, we become ourselves.
Furthermore, I was dumbfound when the billionaire told us he was disappointed by his education at Harvard Business School. He blames the absence of philosophy and history courses in the curriculum. He believes that a cultural background is necessary to “take the cobweb off your eyes.”
When asked about his recipe of success, Stephen Jarislowsky mentioned three fundamental virtues needed to become an outstanding manager: curiosity, knowledge and courage. “Do no not behave like others when you are not convinced by them.”
On a more debatable topic, he opined that emotions lead to nearly nothing. To his eyes, the choice between following love or responding to the call of duty is rather clear. “We need to think to survive,” he says, “I need to put value on myself, and doing so doesn’t allow me to become attached with somebody else.”
What are your thoughts on this? Do we really have to choose between love or career? Is this a quandary we have to face at a certain point of our life? Can’t we have it all?