The calls to the White House come at least once a week. “Murdoch here,” the blunt, accented voice on the other end of the line says.

For decades, Rupert Murdoch has used his media properties to establish a direct line to Australian and British leaders. But in the 44 years since he bought his first newspaper in the US, he has largely failed to cultivate close ties to an American president. Until now.

Murdoch and President Donald Trump – both forged in New York’s tabloid culture, one as the owner of The New York Post, the other as its perfect subject – have travelled in the same circles since the 1970s, but they did not become close until recently, when their interests began to align more than ever before.

Since Inauguration Day, Murdoch has talked regularly with Trump, often bypassing the White House chief of staff, General John F. Kelly, who screens incoming calls. Murdoch has felt comfortable enough to offer counsel that others may shy away from, such as urging the president to stop tweeting and advising him to improve his relationship with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Murdoch also has weekly conversations with Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.

Before the news broke that Murdoch had agreed to sell vast parts of his 21st Century Fox to the Walt Disney Co. for US$52.4 billion ($67.8 billion), Trump called him to get his assurance that the Fox News Channel, the highly rated cable network and frequent bullhorn of the Trump agenda, would not be affected.

On December 14, the day the agreement was announced, Trump let the world know that he had made a congratulatory call to Murdoch. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, also passed along the president’s belief that the deal would be “a great thing” for jobs – a claim disputed by Wall Street analysts.

After decades of ups and downs, Trump now counts Murdoch as one of his closest confidants. The two titans made a show of their improved relationship in June 2016, when Murdoch visited Trump at the Trump International Golf Links Scotland before a group of reporters. They appeared together again at a black-tie dinner in May in honour of American and Australian veterans who fought side by side in World War II. Murdoch introduced the president as “my friend Donald J. Trump” before they engaged in a brief hug.

They are opposites in personal style, with Murdoch gruff and low-key, preferring schlubby newsrooms to Trump’s gilded towers and glitz. But they have much in common.

Both were born to wealth, but at a distance from the centres of power. Trump grew up in Jamaica, Queens, the son of a real estate developer content to earn his fortune in the boroughs outside Manhattan –  so close but so far from glittering Midtown, where the son would make his name and his home. Murdoch, the son of a journalist who became the owner of a newspaper chain, spent his childhood in Melbourne. Murdoch, 86, and Trump, 71, are also alike in that they were both sent to exclusive schools as boys before going on to outdo their fathers in the family businesses.

Although both men parlayed their inheritances into global power, they have stubbornly viewed themselves as outsiders at odds with the establishment. When Murdoch entered the British newspaper market in 1968, London society shunned him and his vulgar tabloids, The Sun and The News of the World, which he used to wound his enemies and advance his political interests. Trump withstood a similar wariness among the elite after he made himself a Manhattan player through his brazen deal making and hucksterism.

To make their way upward in New York, both men relied on a powerful friend, lawyer Roy M. Cohn, a ruthless fixer who made his name in the 1950s as the chief counsel to Joseph McCarthy, the Red-baiting senator, before representing some of the city’s most powerful figures, including the mobster John Gotti and the New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

Cohn connected Trump to Murdoch and the tabloid he bought in 1976, The New York Post. The upstart developer saw that he could benefit from the brash daily – especially its Page Six gossip column, which started a year after Murdoch became the paper’s owner.

“Trump was interested in specifically Rupert’s ownership of The Post, because Page Six is very important to his rising stature in New York City and branding efforts,” said Roger Stone, a Republican operative who has known both men for decades.

Trump seemed to revel in the tabloid’s saucy coverage of his personal life. In 1989 and 1990, The Post turned out a series of front pages on Trump’s split from his first wife, Ivana Trump, and his affair with Marla Maples. The stream of headlines in bold block letters culminated in a quote attributed to Maples: “Best Sex I’ve Ever Had.”

Trump’s enthusiastic response to the planned Disney-Fox megadeal may have been lost in the swirl of Washington news had it not been for his vehement opposition to another recent attempt at media consolidation – AT&T’s proposed US$85.4 billion ($110 billion) acquisition of Time Warner, the parent company of CNN, a frequent target of the president’s “fake news” complaints. While so far making no move on the Disney-Fox plan, the Justice Department has sued to block the AT&T-Time Warner deal on antitrust grounds in a rare instance of governmental interference in a merger of two companies that do not directly compete with each other.

Murdoch, whose ideology is more malleable than his critics realise, has long gained from his knack for placing himself close to power. In the 1980s, when he was cosy with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, his London tabloids took a pro-Tory stance. In 1997, his newspapers endorsed the Labor Party leader Tony Blair for prime minister.


Lance Price, a former Blair spokesman, referred to Murdoch as “effectively a member of Blair’s Cabinet.” In turn, Murdoch faced little government scrutiny as he expanded his media empire to reach 40 percent of British newspaper readers and millions of television viewers through his stake in Sky, a pay TV service. But after a 2011 phone hacking scandal at the now-shuttered News of the World put a spotlight on his remarkable political influence, he found himself facing regulatory hurdles, and his $15 billion bid for a 61 percent stake of Sky came to nothing.

Even as Murdoch enjoyed an open invitation to 10 Downing Street, he found that his overtures to U.S. presidents mostly fell short. And before making their alliance, Murdoch and Trump had to put their old spats behind them.

Before the recent rapprochement, Murdoch privately called Trump “phony,” and accused him of exaggerating his net worth. For his part, Trump once threatened to sue Murdoch for libel after The Post reported that the storied Maidstone Club in East Hampton, New York, had denied him membership.

During much of the 2016 presidential campaign, Murdoch – who initially swooned over Jeb Bush – stood against Trump, declaring on Twitter that he was “embarrassing his friends” and “the whole country.” The Wall Street Journal, Murdoch’s crown jewel, ran an editorial calling the candidate a “catastrophe”.The Post led with the headline “Don Voyage” and declared, “Trump is toast”.

Trump shot back on Twitter: “Wow, I have always liked the @nypost but they have really lied when they covered me in Iowa.” He also went after the Journal: “Look how small the pages have become @WSJ,” he wrote. “Looks like a tabloid ??? saving money I assume!”

The Post ended up endorsing Trump, with reservations, in the New York primary, but refrained from endorsing either him or Hillary Clinton in the general election.

More recently, Murdoch expressed exasperation with Trump’s immigration policies. In response to the White House ban on travel of people from majority-Muslim nations, his company, 21st Century Fox, released a memo offering assistance to any employees hurt by the executive order and reminding them that “21CF is a global company, proudly headquartered in the U.S., founded by – and comprising at all levels of the business – immigrants.” In August, James Murdoch, the younger son of Murdoch and the chief executive of 21st Century Fox, condemned the president’s response to the riots in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The man partly responsible for the detente was another moneyed outsider who craved status and respect: Jared Kushner.

When Kushner bought The New York Observer in 2006, he wasted little time reaching out to Murdoch. “He wanted to be Murdoch,” said one person close to both men at the time. In early 2016, after a presidential debate during which Trump faced aggressive questioning from Megyn Kelly, then a Fox News anchor, the candidate sent Kushner to Murdoch on a media diplomacy mission.

Kushner’s wife, Ivanka Trump, is close friends with Murdoch’s third wife, Wendi Deng. Murdoch and Deng attended the Kushner-Trump wedding in 2009 at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, and the Murdoch daughters, Grace and Chloe, served as flower girls.

Before Murdoch and Deng divorced in 2013, Kushner and Ivanka Trump vacationed on Rosehearty, Murdoch’s 184-foot sailing yacht. In a further sign of the two families’ closeness, Ivanka Trump took on the job of Murdoch trustee responsible for overseeing the two girls’ $300 million fortune – a role she gave up a month before her father took office.

In June 2016, when Donald Trump appeared to be the inevitable Republican nominee, Murdoch made the visit to Trump International Golf Links Scotland. Completed in 2012 over the objections of nearby residents, the course lies 35 miles from the herring-fishing port of Rosehearty, the town left behind by the Murdoch clan when it emigrated to Australia in 1884.

Murdoch arrived with former model Jerry Hall, his fourth wife, whom he married in March. Under cloudy skies, the newlyweds toured the property in a golf cart large enough for four. Trump was at the wheel, with Hall seated beside him. Murdoch, wearing sunglasses, sat on a backward-facing rumble seat as they made their way to the Trump-refurbished Macleod House, a 15th-century mansion, where they had dinner.

Trump’s mended relationship with Murdoch has not gone unnoticed by Time Warner executives, who wonder why AT&T’s attempt to buy the company has run into regulatory trouble at a time when the president has smiled on the Disney-Fox deal.

“If you look at the facts of our case, even before you heard the administration’s endorsement of the Disney-Fox deal, it was hard to understand how the Justice Department could reach a decision to block our deal,” Jeffrey L. Bewkes, the chief executive of Time Warner, said.

A spokesman for the White House, Raj Shah, said that Trump hadn’t spoken to Attorney General Jeff Sessions about the AT&T-Time Warner deal and that “no White House official was authorised to speak with the Department of Justice on this matter.”

The way CNN’s parent company views it, Fox News has adopted a role similar to the one played by Murdoch’s British tabloids when they helped advance the agendas of British leaders. As Blair learned, however, even a special relationship with the media baron can sour quickly. He and Murdoch – once so close that Blair was the godfather to Grace Murdoch – are no longer on speaking terms.

During the British government’s 2012 inquiry into the mogul’s political influence, the former prime minister described what it was like when a story subject falls out of favor with a Murdoch-controlled tabloid.

“Once they’re against you, that’s it,” Blair said. “It’s full on, full frontal, day in, day out, basically a lifetime commitment.”

Henry Sapiecha


July 15 2016 – 7:34AM

Warren Buffett donated about $US2.2 billion ($2.9 billion) of stock in his annual gift to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, betting that risk takers at the group will make breakthroughs in global health and US education even as they acknowledge that some efforts will be unsuccessful.

“Some of the projects we fund will fail,” the Gateses wrote in a message on their website. “We not only accept that, we expect it — because we think an essential role of philanthropy is to make bets on promising solutions that governments and businesses can’t afford to make. As we learn which bets pay off, we have to adjust our strategies and share the results so everyone can benefit.”

The Sage of Omaha and Berkshire Hathaway’s CEO isn’t likely to want to leave his investing powerhouse.

“If you succeed in everything you’re doing in charity, you’re attempting things that are too easy,”: Warren Buffett. Photo: Thomas Lohnes

Buffett, 85, contributed 15 million Class B shares of his Berkshire Hathaway stock to the foundation Wednesday, according to a regulatory filing Thursday. He made a pledge in 2006 to hand over a total that equates to 500 million shares, and each year he gives 5 per cent of the remaining total.

Through last year, he donated more than $US17 billion of stock to the foundation. The annual sums have often climbed because of gains in the share price.

Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has donated over $US17 billion of stock to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation Photo: AP

‘Too Easy’

While he is known for looking for a margin of safety with Berkshire’s investments and often faults himself when his stock wagers sour, Buffett is more tolerant of bets going bad in philanthropy. “If you succeed in everything you’re doing in charity, you’re attempting things that are too easy,” the Berkshire chairman and chief executive officer said in 2011.

The Gates Foundation has donated more than $US36 billion, including for projects that expand access to immunisations in developing countries and provide financial services to poor communities. Bill Gates, the 60-year-old co-founder of Microsoft Corp., has acknowledged it’s been more difficult to make advances improving US education than in boosting mortality rates for children.

Henry Sapiecha

Does a $100,000 bonus for a job well done beat a pat on the back?

US oil and gas company Hilcorp’s 1350 employees think so.

Every single employee – no matter how junior – received a $US100,000 ($137,000) bonus this year as part of a company-wide incentive program called “Dream 2015” to double the company’s size.

“It’s just a true gift”: Hilcorp receptionist Amanda Thompson. Photo: Fox26

The bonus motivated everyone to do their absolute best, said Ms Thompson, who has worked with the company for 10 years.

She told Fox 26 nobody was going to give “any less than 100 per cent each day”.

Hilcorp’s payout has been hailed as the ultimate Christmas bonus by newspapers looking for good news stories, even though the bonus was paid in the US spring.

The reward came after the privately held company realised its goal of doubling its oilfield production rate, net oil and gas reserves and equity value over five years.

It’s not the first time that the Houston-based company has given enormous bonuses.

When Hilcorp doubled its size in 2011 as part of an earlier program called “Double Drive”, each employee was rewarded with a $US50,000 voucher to spend on a “dream” car or cash.

As with many privately held US companies, the billionaire owner Jeffery Hildebrand prefers to stay out of the news.

But the company has developed a reputation as one of the best places in the US to work. And not just because of the generous bonuses and incentives.

In Fortune magazine’s annual list of great places to work, employees used words such as empowerment, freedom, responsibility and communication to describe the company.

“When you suggest an idea to upper management, they really listen to you and most of the time they will go along with the idea you suggested,” one employee said. “I never had that before with any other company.”

Fortune said the company had a “we are all in this together” culture, which manifested itself in “open book management, rich bonuses averaging 33% of pay and outrageous rewards for meeting certain goals”.

Many companies claim that their employees are their most valuable resource, but Hilcorp employees seemed to believed the claim.

The company’s core values include: “Work Like You Own the Company”, “When Hilcorp Wins, We All Win” and “Get Better Every Day”.

The company’s website says Hilcorp is a company where the employees have the autonomy to make decisions, a place where all its employees can develop and grow a career in a field they are passionate about.

“We are committed to unlocking energy for the betterment of our employees and our communities,” it says.

“We are a place where the employees share in the success of the company. At Hilcorp, we work together as a team; we focus intensely on a common goal and dedicate ourselves to the long-term.

“Simply put, we work hard, smart, accomplish our goals and share the reward for achieving our objectives. This is the Hilcorp Way.”

The company was not available for further comment

Henry Sapiecha


Top 10 Investors Of All Time.

This Is How They Did It

Investing has the potential to leading towards incredible wealth. While it helps to have a large sum of money to begin with, it is not always necessary. Through the right investment practices it is possible to continually build up wealth. However, there are some people who are just better at it than others. Usually through the combination of knowledge, skill and luck, these top 10 investors of all time have made their fortune through appropriate options trading, future trading and a variety of other methods.

George Soros

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Like many of the other investors on this list, he started up before online investing. He is best known for basically breaking the Bank of England. He did this by basically betting $10 billion on a single trade. This shorted the British Pound due to the size of the trade, but with this trade he net $2 billion in a single day. He is a macro economic investor, but it is important to understand he doesn’t have a clear strategy. he more or less just understands the situation and moves on from there.

Bill Gross

Bill-Gross image

Bill Gross shows it is possible to make money without stock investing or dealing with other common investing types. In act, he built up his fortune through simple bond investing. His company currently has around $600 billion in bond based investments. Of course, like any quality investor, he does understand the importance of having a diverse portfolio, so he personally invests in other stocks. When he makes an investment, he takes a “big picture” approach as he wants to invest with a stock for 3-5 years. He says he does this so there is no “emotional whiplash” should the stock fail to perform on a given day.

John Bogle

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John, more commonly referred to as “Jack” learned about how to properly invest through mistakes. Mistakes happen in the business and trading world, which makes learning from these mistakes imperative. After graduating from Princeton University he eventually went on to work at Wellington Management Company where he become Chairman. However, he was eventually fired due to a bad merger. He took this knowledge to go and found The Vanguard Group, which is best known for being a low cost mutual funds company. He even gives out rules for investors to look at in order to make sure they are as successful as him. He says to start out with a low cost fund, look at any added costs associated with it and to not overrate previous performance on the fund. Instead, the past performance should only be used to determine if it is a consistently performing stock

Warren Buffett

The Sage of Omaha and Berkshire Hathaway's CEO isn't likely to want to leave his investing powerhouse.

The Sage of Omaha and Berkshire Hathaway’s CEO isn’t likely to want to leave his investing powerhouse.

Of all the investors on this list, Warren Buffett is probably best known. Before becoming the investment professional he is today, he held different investment jobs, with his most recent earning him $12,000 a year. He used this money an money from individual investments to accumulate his wealth to just under $200,000 before starting an investment partnership. His current net value now though is in the ballpark of $50 billion, so he really has taken a small amount and built it on his own. He made his money by buying struggling companies for a low price, then pumping money into the companies in order to improve it, which in turn helps increase the value of the stock price. He only focuses in on industries that he understands and feels comfortable with, which is a very important bit of information for investors. It can become easy to try to invest in a company that is hot at the time, but knowing a bit about the investment and what the company does can make it easier to make do the right decisions later on with the company.

Philip Fisher

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Philip basically invented the idea of investing on growth stocks. In 1931, he opened his own investment company called Fisher & Company and actually managed it up until 1999, when he decided to retire at 91. All of his investments where based on long term growth. He would analyze a company and determine it’s staying power. He used a 15 point list in order to determine whether or not a stock was worth investing in. The two main points included the management characteristics and characteristics of the business. Beyond this, some of the points included conservative accounting, accessibility, long-term outlook and an openness to change. All of these points ultimately pointed Philip to what stocks to select. He went on to write a book about his investment philosophies titled “Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits.”

Benjamin Graham

In this image provided by the New York Guild for the Jewish Blind, Benjamin Graham on May 29, 1951, newly elected president of the New York Guild for the Jewish Blind. (AP Photo/New York Guild for the Jewish Blind)

In this image provided by the New York Guild for the Jewish Blind, Benjamin Graham on May 29, 1951, newly elected president of the New York Guild for the Jewish Blind. (AP Photo/New York Guild for the Jewish Blind)

Benjamin is the guy who taught Warren Buffett most of what he knows (although naturally Warren learned as he went along as any great investor does). Benjamin did not make any sort of investments without first financially analyzing the stock. He eventually went on to help create a very important act in the United States called the Securities Act of 1933. This act requires public companies to divulge all financial information so investors can have a better idea of what they are investing in. Benjamin is another individual who has penned a book to help current investors. Due to the fact that he helped shape Buffett, it has turned into a best seller.

John Templeton

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For anyone who has investing in a mutual fund, this is basically the guy that created it. He founded a mutual fund in 1939. At this time, he purchased 100 shares of every company on the New York Stock Exchange trading under $1 a share. In total, he purchased stocks for 104 companies for a total of $10,400. Now over the following four years, 30 percent of these companies did go bankrupt, which is more common than people might think. Despite this, the remaining 70 companies he purchased stock in allowed him to sell the original $10,400 investment for $40,000. By multiplying his investment by four, he discovered that by purchasing a wide range of stocks, the successful companies will always cover any loss from failing companies. This is why having a diverse portfolio is important and why having stocks in a wide selection of different companies is important as well. Of course, John also made all of these investments from the Bahamas, which started another trend of “off shore trading.” However, he did this primarily to stay out of the light of Wall Street so others wouldn’t catch on.

Carl Icahn

UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 11: Carl Icahn, a billionaire investor, speaks during the World Business Forum in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2007. Icahn said he was concerned that stocks may be reaching a peak, as risks to the U.S. economy remain after the Federal Reserve's Sept. 18 rate cut. (Photo by Chip East/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UNITED STATES – OCTOBER 11: Carl Icahn, a billionaire investor, speaks during the World Business Forum in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2007. Icahn said he was concerned that stocks may be reaching a peak, as risks to the U.S. economy remain after the Federal Reserve’s Sept. 18 rate cut. (Photo by Chip East/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Carl is one of the most famous investors in the entire world, but he can also be feared as well. This is because he locates a company that he believes can be successful but is poorly managed. He then goes and purchases enough shares to be able to vote himself into the Board of Directors and is able to gut the company of the people making the poor decisions. He then is able to sell his shares of the now much more successful company at a higher profit. Naturally, this is something that requires some money to begin with, but for someone who understand the market and business, it is a valuable operation.

Peter Lynch

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While he didn’t start the company, Peter completely revolutionized Fidelity and it’s Magellan Fund. While managing the brand for 13 years, he took the assets of $20 million and grew it to $14 billion. He also surpassed the average return on similar funds by 29% annually. He has some very specific guidelines for investing. He starts out with a common idea of “know what you know”, or, in other words, only invest in what a person understands and already knows about as it makes it easier to know when to buy more or sell. He goes on to state it is impossible to predict the economy, so don’t try to and to avoid long shot investments. Investing only in companies with strong management is important and, before ever buying into a company, the investor should always be able to explain why they are making the investment.

Michael Steinhardt

Michael-Steinhardt image

To round out the list, Michael isn’t a flashy name, but he has maintained a 24% compound average annual return over the last 28 years. Each and every year he has seen at least a double in return on investment than the S&P500 average. He also did not do this investment with just individual stocks or mutual funds. He did it with stocks, bonds, currencies and other investments. His strategy focused on the long term by investing in the short term. He did this by holding onto his investments for anywhere from 30 minutes up to 30 days. (8)

Henry Sapiecha



Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson is one of England’s most famous entrepreneurs; a successful businessman and renowned inventor, he is the founder of the innovative Virgin Group, which comprises more than 400 companies.

Branson is an inspiration for entrepreneurs and businesspeople all over the world, epitomizing the modern work ethic and the entrepreneurial spirit. At the age of just 16, Richard undertook his first business venture (a magazine called Studen, and since then he has grown into one of the world’s most respected businessmen.

In 2014, he was listed as the seventh richest citizen of the United Kingdom on the Forbes List of Billionaires, with an estimated net worth of $4.9 billion.

In addition to his business prowess, Branson has always demonstrated an incredible desire to innovate and push boundaries. He has made numerous world record attempts, including the fastest crossing of the English Channel in an amphibious vehicle, the fastest around-the-world balloon flight, the fastest Atlantic Ocean crossing and the fastest Pacific crossing.

Branson also regularly undertakes humanitarian initiatives, using his considerable wealth and influence to help people and organisations all over the world. He is a founding sponsor of the ICMEC (International Centre of Missing & Exploited Children), he founded the Branson School of Entrepreneurship, has hosted an environmental gathering at his private island, is a signatory of the Global Zero campaign, is a Comissioner on the UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development initiative and has partnered with the African Wildlife Foundation for it’s ‘Say No’ campaign.


Incorporated in 1989, the Virgin Group was founded by Richard Branson and Nik Powell and consists of more than 400 companies worldwide. According to Branson, the brand name ‘Virgin’ arose when the business partners were setting up their first business, a record shop. Branson and Powell considered themselves ‘virgins’ in business, and thus the name was born.

Currently, the Virgin Group operates from its headquarters at The Battleship building in the City of Westminster. It was previously located in The School House in the London borough of Hammersmith  and  Fulham.

The core areas of the Virgin Group can be considered to be travel, entertainment and lifestyle, although it also manages ventures in financial services, transport, banking, health care, food and drink, media and telecommunications.  Although Branson retains complete ownership and control of the Virgin brand, each of the companies operating under its banner is a separate entity, with Branson owning some  and holding either majority or minority stakes in others. In some cases, he simply licenses the brand to an external company, such as Virgin Records (owned by Universal Music Group) and Virgin Media (owned by Liberty Global).


Got to run? Here’s a snapshop of Branson’s top ten tips for success:

#1 Follow your dreams
#2 Make a positive difference in the world
#3 Believe in your ideas
#4 Have fun and take care of your team
#5 Don’t give up
#6 Make lots of lists
#7 Get out there and do things
#8 Learn to delegate
#9 Prove your  naysayers wrong
#10 Do what you love, and have a sofa in the kitchen

#1 Follow your dreams and just do it

You should always pursue your passions in life, and it’s no different in business. You will find your work life far more rewarding – and successful – if you’re doing something you love, rather than just doing something for the sake of making money.

“Very few people take the risk to go and follow their dream, and those who do are usually those who end up with a much happier, more rewarding and exciting life.”

This is undoubtedly good advice for those starting their own business, but there’s also a valuable lesson here for managers too. Engaging employees can be a tough prospect for any manager, but by getting to know your employees and gauging what elements of their job they truly enjoy doing, we can better delegate responsibilities and get the best from team members. Of course it’s not always possible to give  someone a job they truly love, but by understanding what drives our workers, we can give them responsibilities, rewards or perks that we know they will enjoy, creating a better work environment and engaging team members to do the best job they  can do.

This also highlights the importance of allowing employees to voice their opinions and make suggestions for improving elements of the business or implementing new and innovative work practices. If team members have a good idea that they’re truly passionate about, listening to them and allowing them to pursue their passion can have a strong beneficial impact on their motivation, engagement and results, as well as having potentially significant implications for the business as a whole.

#2: Make a positive difference and do some good

Companies of all kinds have a social responsibility to make a  difference to the world  in some way, and being out there and doing good can  have a dramatic impact on how your staff feel about the company they work for. Whether it’s the whole world, the country in which you’re based, the local community or even just your staff and customers, you should be aiming to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

“Not only will it alter the way people feel about your business, it will give everyone involved the motivation to work harder, as they understand that their work benefits everybody. “

There’s an important lesson here for managers too, and that ‘s the importance of understanding how little things can make a big difference when it comes to engagement and motivation. These little things, whether it ‘s recognition, rewards, bonuses, understanding of personal situations or even just listening to team members, can make workers feel appreciated, acknowledged and part of an organisation that values more than just profits.

Making a positive difference – both in and outside of the company – can ensure your team members feel like valued and important elements of a greater whole and can create a positive and effective work environment.

#3: Believe in your  ideas and be the best

You should believe in your idea and feel proud about what you’re doing. You have to have a passion for it and have the ability to inspire other people to feel passionate about it  too.

“There’s little point doing something in life unless you feel really good about it and proud of what you’ve achieved and what you’re trying to do. “

It’s also important to try and be the best – to produce the best possible version of your vision. Every aspect of what you do should aim to be better than the competition, and this should be a driving force behind your efforts.

Managers can learn from this element of Branson’s work ethic, but it ‘s important to be able to effectively evaluate the quality of your ideas and critique the work you’re doing to make it a  reality.

If an idea is a good one, then you should be able to pitch it to other people in two or three sentences. Bear this in mind when you’re evaluating the quality of your – or a team member’s – ideas. When it comes to being the best, this is easier said than done, and it’s easy to become complacent in your efforts – particularly if your goal takes a long time to achieve.

As a result it ‘s important to be able to regularly critique the efforts of you and your team, to ensure you’re keeping the principles of your original idea in mind and that you’re always striving to be the   best.

#4: Have fun and look after your team

Fun is one of the most important – and underrated – ingredients in any successful venture.

“It’s really important to have fun at work. If you’re not having fun anymore, it may be time to move on.

Make sure you’ve got the kind of people in your company who genuinely care about others and look for the best in people. If your team are having fun and genuinely care about their colleagues and their customers, they will do a better job and staff morale will be consistently  high.

There’s an important tip here for managers, and that ‘s that in order to get the best out of your team, you should encourage a fun, interactive and collaborative environment, both in and out of the office. Keeping your team happy and engaged will result in a more motivated and effective workforce and will also have a beneficial impact on staff retention and satisfaction.

When it comes to creating this kind of environment, you should never overlook the power of effective team-building exercises. We’ve all experienced the awkwardness and relative ineffectiveness of stuffy ‘trust-fall ‘ type activities, but that doesn’t mean that team building doesn’t work – you just need to think a little outside of the box.

When you’re considering which team-building activities to undertake, you need to ensure you keep some key elements in mind. Any exercise aimed at improving overall morale and teamwork should always have a shared objective and defined goals. The activities should match these goals, and employees should be provided with meaningful  takeaways and key lessons. There’s nothing wrong with fostering competition within the team as long as it’s healthy, fun and always  good-natured.

#5: Don’t give up

It’s incredibly important not to give up when you’re working  towards trying to achieve your dreams. There will always be situations where the easiest thing to do is to simply quit, but you’ve just got to work day and night to overcome those difficulties.

If you do fail, just brush yourself off and move on to something else. Dealing with failure is much easier if you have put everything you can into avoiding it.

“Always  do your  utmost to  rise to the challenge,  and if you do fail there’s nothing wrong with simply trying again – you’ ll  be amazed at what  you can achieve.”

It’s easy to see the value of being determined and not giving up on your dreams, but this is easier said than done, particularly in the face of a tough setback or disappointment. So how can we become more determined?

One very effective way is to steer clear of the concept of  ‘destiny’.

Thinking that things just  ‘aren’t  meant to be’ or that your future  is pre-determined can be comforting in some circumstances, but at the same time, it’s often the easy way out when the alternative requires grit and courage. Instead, understand that you create your destiny, and nothing is pre-determined. If you want to be the leader of a successful team, business or any other venture, don’t be lulled into thinking whatever happens is destined to be. You can make it happen yourself, with hard work and a never-say-die  attitude. One of the most powerful ways of increasing your motivation and determination is to validate yourself and acknowledge your own past achievements. The dopamine reward system in the brain goes into overdrive when we achieve positive feedback, even if this feedback comes from ourselves.

Self-belief is also hugely important when it comes to being more determined, and a positive self-image can be a really powerful motivator. Think of yourself as someone who relishes new challenges
and is more than capable of succeeding at whatever you put your mind to.

This kind of positive reinforcement will also activate the  dopamine reward system of the brain, which is strongly associated with motivation and determination.

If all else fails, drink coffee! Studies have shown that coffee can release dopamine into the brain and has the ability to sharpen and increase mental focus.

Scientists have also found that caffeine can enhance certain cognitive tasks and spark the motivation and reward circuit in the brain. Just make sure you don’t overdose on caffeine, as it lead to energy slump later in the day.

#6: Make lots of lists and keep setting new challenges

If you don’t write down your ideas, they could be forgotten by the next day. Write lots of lists to keep track of your goals and mark them off as you achieve them. You’ll be amazed by what challenges you can overcome.

“You should keep setting yourself new targets and challenges – unless you actually organize yourself and write the kinds of things you want to achieve, there’s a danger that as time slips by, you won’t achieve a lot.”

Staying organized is an important part of any business, and you can use lists to keep you – and your team – on track. You don’t need to use paper lists either, if that’s not your thing. There are many excellent online tools for organisation and lists, with Evernote and Podio being excellent examples.

You can make more than simple ‘to do’ lists too. Split your lists up into month, week and days, with overall goals and challenges in the longer time-span lists and detailed tasks in the day-to-day lists. Start your list with the thing you want to do the least, and keep it in that order. That way you can check off the most annoying tasks early in the day when you feel most motivated, keeping that motivation (and accompanying feeling of achievement) going throughout the day.

If you’re finding a certain task particularly difficult, split it up into smaller tasks and list them in order – tick off each task as you complete it and soon you’ll be halfway through the job. Encourage your team members to do the same thing, you’ll be amazed at the impact it can have on motivation and productivity.

#7: Spend time with your family and learn to delegate

The art of delegation is one of the most important skills for an entrepreneur to master.

“If you can find people who can take on tasks you aren’t particularly good at, it can free you up to plan for the future and, more importantly, give you time to spend with your family.”

If you’re an entrepreneur or a team manager, then mastering the art of delegation should be considered a hugely important task. We’re not all good delegators, particularly those of us who are perfectionists or precious about our ideas, but we need to be able to assign team members to suitable tasks,  particularly if they’re better at those tasks than we are.

Delegation is especially key if you’re trying to grow a business, as you simply can’t take on every job yourself.

So how can we learn to get better at delegating? The first thing to do is to pick tasks to delegate ‘up’ and ‘down’. The former corresponds to tasks that require specific  knowledge and/or skills, particularly those that don’t  relate
to the core services of your business. For example, things like accounts, billing, legal issues and the like should all be delegated to skilled employees, companies or freelancers. Delegating ‘down’ refers to those tasks which don’t require any particular skills or knowledge, such as postage, sending out virtual mailers, booking appointments, etc. Delegate these tasks to a subordinate, freeing up your valuable time to concentrate on more important tasks.

You need to learn to let go of the ‘if I want something done right, I have to do it myself’ mentality and understand that your team is there to support you and the business.

If you’re struggling with delegating, start  with smaller tasks and ensure you give your team members clear instructions and be absolutely clear about what you expect the outcome to be. Giving clear instructions and expectations allows you to judge the end results more effectively and gives your team  members a much better chance  of doing the job the way you want  it done.

It’s key to understand that delegation, apart from freeing up your own time, will empower your staff and contractors, making the feel trusted, valued and appreciated, and will give them the opportunity to develop their own skills, knowledge and abilities.

#8: Try turning off the TV and get out there and do  things

Instead of sitting in front of a screen all your life, try turning off the TV or the computer  and go out  into the world.

“With so many fascinating people to meet, adventures to embark on and challenges to overcome, sitting in front of the TV is simply a waste of time.”

It’s important to be able to switch off now and again, but there’s so much waiting for you out in the real world, and those experiences can be incredibly valuable for an entrepreneur.

So what is out there for an entrepreneur? Instead of spending your free time in front of a screen, an entrepreneur can find greater value attending conventions and lectures or meeting new people at networking events and social gatherings. The old adage goes ‘it ‘s not what you know, it ‘s who you know’, and the only way to make these important contacts is out in the real world. So follow Branson’s advice: get out there and do things.

#9: When people say bad things about you, prove them wrong

There will always be people who try to hang on the coattails of successful people.

“The best thing you can do is not only ignore them, but prove them wrong in every single way.”

Ignoring criticism is a great skill if you can do it, but it ‘s not always that straightforward, particularly if you’re a sensitive person or eager to be accepted within a certain community. So how can you deal with criticism more effectively?

Firstly, you should try and learn something from any criticism you receive. It’s important to understand that most criticism is probably based – at least in part – on some truths. It may appear negative, but criticism presents us with an opportunity to learn and improve. In order to try and learn from criticism, train yourself to ignore the tone in which it ‘s delivered and focus solely on the suggestions.

Once you focus on learning from criticism, you can begin to value it. This is particularly important if you’re a manager, director or team leader, as you may only hear praise on a day-to-day basis (even if it ‘s insincere). When you do receive criticism, learn to value it as something constructive and as an opportunity to learn what you could be doing   better.

If you are struggling to deal with criticism, you should try and wait before responding. Responding immediately – with anger or injured pride – will likely result in confrontation and will do nothing to help your ability to deal with criticism. Wait and reflect on the criticism you’ve received, and work out the best way to respond. This also gives you the opportunity to recognise false criticism and value real criticism that offers an opportunity to learn.

#10: Do what you love and have a sofa in the kitchen

You only live one life, so it ‘s important to do things that you enjoy. The truth is, so long as you’ve got a kitchen that has space for a sofa, a bedroom and a partner that you love, you don’t  need much  else.

“If you’re doing something that you really love, it will result in a much more enjoyable life rather than doing something purely for the sake of making money.”

Of course we all have to pay the bills and we can’t all spend our days doing something we truly love. It is, however, possible to learn to love your career, even if you’re not working in your dream  job.

First and foremost, you need to realise that your job doesn’t define you, but how you do that job does. Your attitude at work and the way you treat people doesn’t go unnoticed, and it can have a profound influence on the people around you. There are many times in life when you can’t control your situation,  but you can always choose how you react to it.

Although it ‘s easier said than done, you should try and learn to stop focusing on the money. You will never have enough money – no matter how much you make, there are always going to be things you could do if you had more – so stop using it as an excuse. You should understand that work should be about more than just the paycheck for it to be truly fulfilling.

You should also try and find the significance in your work – it may require some creative thinking,  but it ‘s absolutely possible. No matter what you do, you can find significance in it if you think long and hard about your role. Perspective plays a crucial role in your level of satisfaction in your career and your overall sense of well-being, and being able to shift your perspective can go a long way in learning to love your career.


Henry Sapiecha

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer greets the fans as he is introduced at their home court at Staples Center in Los Angeles image

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer greets the fans as he is introduced at their home court at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Photo: Wally Skalij

Speaking last month to a few hundred MBA students at the University of Southern California, Steven A. Ballmer, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, broke into verse.

He recited a snippet of a song from the Broadway musical “Pippin”: “Rivers belong where they can ramble. Eagles belong where they can fly. I’ve got to be where my spirit can run free. Got to find my corner of the sky.”

It’s sort of a privilege, sort of a duty, sort of a burden. How do I make a difference? 

Steve Ballmer

Ballmer sensed his audience was more attuned to cloud computing, which he seeded while running Microsoft, than to Stephen Schwartz’s “Corner of the Sky.” And so he supplied some context, explaining how Pippin, the son of King Charlemagne, engaged in a lifelong quest for fulfillment.

Ballmer might have been talking about himself. Retired from Microsoft, where he was employed for 34 years, the last 14 as its chief executive, Ballmer has spent the first several months of his retirement pondering how to grow a personal legacy through philanthropy.

“What is it like to be rich beyond belief?” a student asked him.

Steve Ballmer's huge fortune grew from humble roots image

Ballmer, a billionaire, answered: “It’s sort of a privilege, sort of a duty, sort of a burden. How do I make a difference?”

Eleven months ago, Ballmer won a bidding war for the Clippers. He bought the franchise for $US2 billion in what was considered part business transaction, part act of beneficence, after the Clippers’ longtime owner, Donald Sterling, incurred a lifetime ban by the NBA for making racist comments that were recorded and made public.

The official transfer in August of the team to Ballmer, whose Swiss-born father worked for the US Army as an interpreter in the Nuremberg war crimes trials, was seen as a clean break from the Clippers’ desultory past. In Ballmer, 59, the team acquired a loud and proud leader. He was more inclined to show his enthusiasm than his navel, unlike Sterling, who at Ballmer’s age was still wearing shirts unbuttoned to his waist.

Phoenix Suns forward Reggie Bullock said Ballmer drew attention in his own way on game nights.

“He has a very distinctive voice,” said Bullock, who was a Clipper until a trade in January. “It sounds like he’s howling at the moon.”

Deep pockets

With his manic enthusiasm and deep pockets, Ballmer was going to swoop in and pry Los Angeles from its decades-long love affair with the Lakers. That was the plan, anyway. But even though the Clippers finished with 35 more victories than the Lakers, they trailed their fellow Staples Center tenants in the local regular-season ratings.

The Clippers are a reflection of their new owner, all right. But it is not the goofy, giddy guy seen gyrating like a giant inflatable tube man near his baseline seat – most memorably during a January halftime performance by the singer Fergie that prompted real estate mogul Donald Trump to describe Ballmer as “an embarrassment to rich people.”

Ballmer emphasized to the USC students the need to be “tenacious and hard core” in the pursuit of their goals. It is a message his team seems to have absorbed. Matt Barnes and Blake Griffin were fourth and fifth in the NBA in technical fouls in the regular season with a combined 25. Nine Clippers had more technical fouls than any single player on the San Antonio Spurs, their first-round playoff opponent. The Clippers beat the Spurs, the defending NBA champions, in the opening game of the best-of-seven series. Game 2 is Wednesday night.

Ballmer commutes to games from his home in Seattle. He travels by private jet, explaining, “Time is our most precious commodity, and there are conveniences that wealth brings to essentially get you more time.”

It is one of Ballmer’s few outward displays of wealth. His wardrobe is more J.C. Penney than J.Crew. The security guard standing outside the Clippers’ locker room during one homestand marveled at how effortlessly Ballmer blended into the crowd on game nights.

For the mathematically gifted Ballmer, sports have always served as his main medium of communication. In high school, he said, the first varsity letter he earned was in track.

“The coach gave me one in 10th grade,” he said, “because a guy had made a scoring error and deprived us of a point. I was helping out as the manager and I discovered the error and the coach said, ‘I guess you scored a point for us in a meet,’ and gave me a letter.”

Harking back to his days as the manager of his high school basketball team, Ballmer sometimes attends Clippers practices and retrieves basketballs for the players during drills.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Doc Rivers, the Clippers’ coach, said. “The guy’s worth $US24 billion. I have to think if I had $US24 billion I probably would be different. I hope not, but I probably would be. He’s the most normal $US24 billion guy I know.”

Circus style

At Microsoft, Ballmer was known as a charismatic speaker, the P.T. Barnum of the techie set.

During one company meeting at Safeco Field, he saw an employee snapping a picture with an iPhone from Apple, a competitor. He confiscated it and playfully pretended to stomp on it in a scene caught on the baseball park’s giant video screen.

In front of a roomful of people, Ballmer is at his communicative best: funny, engaging, expressive. In a sit-down interview in January, Ballmer rocked back and forth in his chair with his arms held stiffly at his sides as he answered questions.

Ballmer refused to make his wife, Connie, or three sons available to be interviewed. He also declared his youngest son’s high school basketball games off-limits to a reporter.

“Sports is the easiest thing for me to bond with the kids over,” he said. “Academically, I probably grind them a little more.”

After their games, Ballmer said, there is what he described as “the debrief,” which is a sacrosanct part of the drive home. He said: “I’ll ask, Where do you want to start? Are we going to start with the team’s performance, or your performance? Offense or defense? Then we go through the team, we go through him, every kid, how we think he did.”

Ballmer added, “The debrief of the game in our family is always as important as the game itself.”

With the Clippers, Ballmer took a more hands-off approach.

“He’ll say, ‘Is it all right to come in and say hi?'” Rivers said. “And I say: ‘You’re the owner. You can barge in.’ And I mean that. I tell him all the time, he made an incredible commitment. I want him to enjoy it. I want him to come and do whatever he wants. I want to hear his opinion. He’s smarter than me.”

Blue collar roots

Ballmer was raised outside Detroit, where his father, Frederic, was a manager at Ford Motor Co.

“When he was up, he was up,” Ballmer said of his father. “When he was mad, you knew it.”

He chuckled. “I think I’m a little like my dad. When I’m up, I’m up. When I’m down, I’m down.”

His family lived comfortably, he said, but was not well-off. He said he was able to attend private school with the help of academic scholarships.

“My dad was an immigrant who came here with nothing and worked his way up as a payroll clerk for Ford,” Ballmer said. “I’m going to guess he probably maxed out around $US45,000 a year.”

Ballmer said he did not believe his father finished high school.

“He never told us for sure whether he graduated or not,” he said. “Even in his last days, my sister and I tried to get him to ‘fess up.'”

Ballmer said his father spoke rarely of his interactions with the Nazi war criminals in Nuremberg.

“He saw a guy get hanged,” he said. “That did come back to him later in his life. When he was sort of older and closer to his own death, the visualization of seeing this guy hang. …” Ballmer’s voice trailed off.

‘You need to buy this team’

Rivers said he first crossed paths with Ballmer in 2008, during the SuperSonics’ last season in Seattle. Ballmer, a SuperSonics season-ticket holder, had seats next to the visitors’ bench.

When Boston came to town, Rivers, then the coach of the Celtics, said he turned to Ballmer and said, “Hey, you need to buy this team and keep it here.”

“Only if you coach the team,” said Ballmer, Rivers recalled.

“Well, that’s not going to happen,” Rivers said. “That was our introduction to each other.”

Ballmer did not remember the meeting. He clapped gleefully as the story was relayed to him.

“Doc doesn’t make things up,” he said. “That’s not his style.”

One of Ballmer’s first moves as owner was to award Rivers a $US50 million contract extension that runs through the 2018-19 season. Amid the chaos created by Sterling’s racist remarks, Rivers emerged as a calming presence. From his days at Microsoft, Ballmer recognized that he had a strong brand asset in Rivers.

“You’ve got to build an interesting product, have a brand that people can understand, try to build a product that can be successful,” Ballmer said. He added: “There’s a natural shorter product cycle because players get older. I think the notion that you have to be tenacious and hard core really applies. You can’t be ripping things up and starting over again.”

Not an A-team

Ballmer earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard, where he lived down the hall from Bill Gates. Ballmer attended Stanford Graduate School of Business for a year before dropping out to join Microsoft, which Gates had founded along with Paul Allen.

“When I joined Microsoft we were not an ‘A’ team,” Ballmer said. “We were doing some ‘A’ work because we had three ‘A’ players. We weren’t very deep. We had three or four guys, all guys who were amazing, and then we had a bunch of people who were mediocre or worse.”

The same could be said of Ballmer’s Clippers, who have an MVP-caliber player in point guard Chris Paul, a multifaceted offensive player in Griffin and a tough matchup in center DeAndre Jordan. The drop-off in talent after that is precipitous.

“We’re trying to get better,” Ballmer said. “We’ve got some of the most exciting players in the league. Our team is better than it was at the beginning of the year, no question.”

The Clippers are not Ballmer’s first flirtation with Los Angeles. Before he enrolled at Stanford, Ballmer – a second cousin of the comedian Gilda Radner, who died in 1989 – came here with the notion of breaking into the movie business.

“I thought it would fit well with my personality,” Ballmer said.

A summer spent reading scripts and parking cars at private functions for meal money convinced him otherwise.

“I got enough of a flavour to know the movie business probably wasn’t going to be a compelling enough thing for me to not go ahead and go back to Stanford,” he said.

At USC, a student in the audience stepped to the microphone, produced a billed cap and said: “Hi, Steve. How are you doing? I’m going to put this hat on real quick.”

Squinting from the stage, Ballmer said, “It looks good, but what is it?”

“It’s a Warriors hat,” the student smugly replied, referring to the Golden State team, which led the Western Conference in the regular season with 67 wins.

“Next!” Ballmer bellowed. “Go, Clippers! Go home, Warriors!”

The New York Times


Henry Sapiecha

James Packer n suit image

‘I am extremely happy with RatPac’s progress’ … James Packer is expanding his production company’s film and entertainment business in the US, China and Asia. Photo: Darrian Traynor

James Packer has cemented his position as a Hollywood player after securing almost a quarter of a billion dollars in backing for his Los Angeles-based production partnership, RatPac Entertainment.

The company, which Packer created a year ago in partnership with filmmaker Brett Ratner, has closed a deal with Bank of America Merrill Lynch for a credit facility worth $US150 million ($169.54 million).

RatPac says it now has a total capitalisation of up to $US225 million ($254.3 million).

The company, with Dune Entertainment, announced a multi-year agreement with US studio Warner Bros in 2013 to co-finance as many as 75 films.

The Alfonso Cuaron film Gravity was one of the early financial beneficiaries of that agreement.

It went on to gross more than $US700 million ($791.17 million) at the box office from a $100 million ($113 million) budget.

Another film backed by the fund was The Lego Movie, which has grossed almost half a billion dollars off a budget of $US60 million ($67.81 million).

Though Bank of America Merrill Lynch is the sole agent in the new RatPac deal, it represents a syndicate of American banks, including Atlanta’s SunTrust Bank, the Beverly Hills headquartered City National Bank and the Japanese-owned Union Bank.

“I am extremely happy with RatPac’s progress,” Packer said in a brief statement.

“The company is quickly expanding its film and entertainment business in the US, China and Asia.

“This credit facility is critical to RatPac’s key partnership with Warner Bros and we will continue to work hard to deepen and strengthen this relationship in the future.”

RatPac’s partner, Dune Entertainment, is owned by Steve Mnuchin, the founder of OneWest, a California-based regional bank, and the investment company Dune Capital Management.

When the RatPac-Dune-Warner Bros deal was announced in 2013, the studio’s Chief Executive, Kevin Tsujihara, said it gave the studio “increased strength and flexibility … and an even greater ability to manage risk.”

Henry Sapiecha

Bill Gates is hardly the typical billionaire. His $91.96 billion fortune is a tad over the typical billionaire’s kitty of $3.49 billion. image

Bill Gates is hardly the typical billionaire. His $91.96 billion fortune is a tad over the typical billionaire’s kitty of $3.49 billion.

What does a “typical” billionaire look like in the year 2014? The annual Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census, which gives an in-depth accounting of the world’s wealthiest people, devotes an entire section to answering this question. Here are a few points:

• The typical billionaire has a net worth of $3.49 billion ($US3.1 billion)

• The typical billionaire is 63 years old. (It was 62 last year.)

• The typical billionaire has nearly half of his or her wealth in ownership of privately held businesses.


The typical billionaire owns four properties worth some $106.05 million altogether.

Want to break it down further? According to the survey, there are a record 2,325 billionaires in the world today, up 7 per cent from the previous year. Their total wealth increased 12 per cent in the same period to $8.23 trillion, which is equal to 4 per cent of global wealth and greater than the combined market capitalisation of all the companies in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. As might be expected, men account for 2,039 of billionaires worldwide (or more than four in five) and $7.22 trillion of their combined wealth.

With $77.38 billion to his name, Warren Buffet is the world’s second richest person image

With $77.38 billion to his name, Warren Buffet is the world’s second richest person. Source: News Limited

Billionaires also have what the Wealth-X/UBS report charmingly refers to as a “billionaire network.” The typical billionaire has “business or personal relationships with another nine UHNW [ultra high net worth] individuals, three of which are billionaires,” it notes. That means the typical billionaire has a friend circle worth an estimated $18.05 billion. The “must-go” events on their social calendar, according to the report, include sporting events (particularly the U.S. Masters and PGA Championship), the Davos World Economic Forum, and various elite art shows (a good deal of which are sponsored by UBS).

Should you wish to track down a billionaire, you’re best off looking in New York, home to 103 billionaires — ahead of the runners-up, Moscow (85) and Hong Kong (82). You could also try crashing an alumni event at the University of Pennsylvania, which counts 25 billionaires among its graduates (Harvard and Yale are close behind). In terms of regions, Europe still has the largest number of billionaires, as you can see in the map from Statista below, and tiny little Liechtenstein boasts the highest number of billionaires per capita, at five.

Henry Sapiecha

Han Hae-kyung takes an electrotherapy on her shoulder and back at Gang-won Rehabilitation Hospital, South Korea image

SEOUL — When Han Hye-kyung finished high school and got a job at Samsung, her family celebrated with a barbecue. But within two years, she stopped menstruating. And then she couldn’t walk straight. And then doctors found a brain tumour, something she and her family claim came from toxins at a factory run by the South Korean tech giant.

Han and her mother are among a small group of Koreans who say there’s a dark side to this country’s most iconic conglomerate. They say conditions at a Samsung Electronics production plant caused hundreds of rare diseases over the past two decades, some fatal, with most victims in their 20s or 30s.

The fight between Samsung and dozens of former workers persisted for years on the fringes. But the plight of those ex-employees has suddenly forced its way into the mainstream, reflecting South Korea’s growing concern about safety and corporate accountability.

Samsung and other chaebol, as the conglomerates are known, have long stood as the unassailable patriarchs of South Korea’s Third-World-to-riches rise. But in the past few months, lawmakers have demanded that Samsung provide an explanation for the spate of rare diseases. A crowd-sourced movie inspired by the issue hit theatres. And recently, Samsung apologised in a nationally televised news conference for its “lack of attention” to the pain and distress of former employees with the unusual illnesses.

There’s no clear proof linking the diseases with factory conditions. Samsung said in a statement to The Washington Post that it is “meeting or exceeding” industry health and safety standards and emphasised a series of safety innovations that it called “best-in-class.” But some politicians and activists here say the employees’ health problems highlight the faults of a company that emphasised productivity over safety and prevented the formation of workers’ unions.

For those who have pushed Samsung to acknowledge the diseases, the recent apology was a partial vindication, coming after years in which Samsung questioned their credibility. Samsung promised compensation for victims but pointedly did not claim responsibility. Han and her mother, Kim Shi-nyeo, watched the announcement on an off-brand flat-screen at their rented apartment; Kim had sold nearly every Samsung product she owned because just looking at the logo made her angry.

Han, severely disabled by the surgery to remove her brain tumour, beat her chest as she heard Samsung Electronics chief executive Kwon Oh-hyun say he was “heartbroken” by what had happened.

Kim teared up.

“I felt, to an extent, like all those years we’ve had to go through were recognised,” Kim said. “At the same time, the fact still remains that my daughter has to live the rest of her life this way.”

Complicated claims

Samsung is known globally for its televisions and smartphones, but within Korea, its influence is broader — that of a do-everything titan that sells life insurance, builds apartments and accounts for one-fifth of the nation’s gross domestic product.

Those who study Samsung say the company is increasingly sensitive to blemishes on its image as its ailing chairman, Lee Kun-hee, prepares to pass the reins to his only son.

“The social mood is changing in Korea, and I think Samsung sensed that,” said Kim Sang-jo, an economist at Hansung University who specialises in the conglomerate. “The [rare diseases] had become a symbolic problem for Samsung. It was starting to be seen as a very arrogant and stubborn company.”

Concern about Samsung’s factory conditions first surfaced seven years ago, when two former employees who had worked side by side, Hwang Yu-mi and Lee Suk-yeong, died of leukemia within months of one another. Hwang was 23, and her father, a taxi driver, felt the deaths couldn’t be a coincidence.

In the years since, about 200 other people have claimed sicknesses from Samsung production lines, mostly from the Giheung plant 20 miles south of Seoul, which manufactures semiconductors and liquid crystal displays.

But the claims are complicated. Most mainstream medical experts say that the causes of brain tumours and leukemia are essentially unknown. Still, there are some factors that can increase the risk, including exposure to radiation and benzene. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says “long-term exposure” to high levels of benzene can cause leukemia and some cancers.

Like other high-tech manufacturers, Samsung uses potentially harmful chemicals on its production lines — including benzene — but not at levels exceeding safety standards, according to studies that Samsung has permitted of its workplaces.

In part because of that ambiguity, South Korea’s government-run workplace compensation agency has sent conflicting signals about whether it thinks the claims are legitimate. In four cases, the agency has determined that the diseases were workplace accidents, the result of chemical exposure, according to Lee Jong-ran, a lawyer who represents many of those who have fallen ill.

But in 23 other cases, including Han’s, the agency said there was no clear correlation. Those workers have appealed to the courts, where they’ve squared off against the compensation agency and faced yet another challenge — Samsung has lent its high-profile lawyers to the government to help with its defence. (Samsung said in May that it would withdraw its lawyers from the cases.)

The diseases were reported by people employed by Samsung in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and the company has since revamped its Giheung plant. Still, several employees who worked there say Samsung for too long paid insufficient attention to worker safety. During occasional power outages, air filtration systems would shut down. Work would stop temporarily, but resume before the gases were entirely cleared, they said.

“It’s very expensive to stop a [production] line for a long time,” said Ryu Ui-seok, a former Samsung engineer who worked at Giheung from 2004 until 2006 and is in good health. “After even a brief power outage, you’d smell the chemicals very strongly” as people got back to work.

Most of the workers at Giheung were women, recent high school graduates. During the one-month orientations held for newcomers, they were told about the history of the company and the apartments they’d one day be able to afford, according to several former employees. They were given detailed instructions on how to keep the production line clean, an essential for semiconductor manufacturing. But they were told almost nothing about safety or the chemicals they’d be dealing with, they said.

“All we learned was how to be an efficient worker,” said Hong Sae-mi, who joined Samsung at 19 and has multiple sclerosis, a disease she says is workplace-related. “The emphasis was on the product, not the people.”

In a statement, Samsung said that even dating back to the 1990s, 10 of 200 mandatory education hours for employees were devoted to safety. Employees were instructed on how to handle chemicals and deal with accidents. Samsung also said that in 2007, it implemented a round-the-clock chemical monitoring system, and that out of an “abundance of caution,” chemical levels were kept to one-tenth of legal limits.

Samsung declined to discuss Han’s case. A company spokeswoman said that in the West, apologising could be seen as an admission of responsibility.

“But the employees are like our family, and the company would like to offer help when the family is in trouble,” said the spokeswoman, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. “Instead of looking into whose fault it is, we try to give help first.”

Fighting a lost cause

Han, who left Samsung in 2001, developed the menstruation problems while still at the company. But her more serious health issues emerged later; her brain tumour was diagnosed in 2005. In a 2012 blog post, Samsung noted that some ex-employees’ illnesses surfaced well after they left the company, making it difficult to draw a link.

Han can’t tell her own story. She has full comprehension, but she can barely speak — only a few words now and then. After years of physiotherapy, she can dress herself, but she cannot button her shirts. She cannot write. She can talk on the phone, but only if her mother holds it to her ear.

For all the attention that the claims against Samsung have received in recent months, those dealing with diseases have suffered in private for years. In Han’s case, the best-case scenario is that she’ll “one day be able to walk to the dinner table,” Kim said.

After doctors discovered Han’s tumour, she underwent high-risk surgery. She emerged from the 12-hour operation alive, but much different. Her arms flailed uncontrollably and she couldn’t lift her head. She had quadruple vision.

It was only in 2008 that Kim heard about the other, comparable cases. Friends told her that fighting Samsung was a lost cause, given its political power and clout with the news media. But Kim joined a growing group of victims and their relatives who held memorial services and brandished banners in front of Samsung’s headquarters. Kim sold a restaurant she owned and became a full-time caretaker for her daughter. A group representing the families has paid Han’s medical bills over the past two years.

Both the government agency and a Seoul administrative court have ruled there’s no confirmed link between Han’s condition and her time at Samsung. But Kim says she’s “100 percent sure” there is. There is no family history of brain tumours or other rare diseases, and Han never showed health problems before taking her job at Samsung, her mother said.

Kim is now hoping to receive compensation from Samsung in a negotiation process. Her goals are simple. She wants to outfit her apartment with grasp bars and other devices that can help her daughter more easily live at home.

“I want Samsung to think about all the years my daughter cannot work,” Kim said. “She will need help for the rest of her life.”

Henry Sapiecha



Will Bill Gates be the world’s first trillionaire? Photo: AP

The world’s first trillionaire could emerge within just 25 years, financial forecasters have claimed.

Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder and world’s richest person, is expected by many to be the first to reach trillionaire status.

If the world’s greatest fortunes continue to grow at their current rate, boosted by the rapid wealth creation in emerging markets such as India and China, then Gates or one of the planet’s super-rich elite could have a trillion US dollars to their name by 2039, according to some predictions.

Others, such as investment bank Credit Suisse, believe there will be 11 trillionaires within just two generations.

“Two generations ahead, future extrapolation of current wealth growth rates yields almost a billion millionaires, equivalent to 20 per cent of the total adult population,” the bank wrote in its annual Global Wealth Report last year.

“If this scenario unfolds, then billionaires will be commonplace, and there is likely to be a few trillionaires too, eleven according to our best estimate.”

A trillion dollars is a million million or $1,000,000,000,000, the equivalent of $US140 for every person on the planet.

It is enough money to buy up every last inch of property in central London at today’s prices, according to The Times.

Mr Gates, 58, currently the richest man on Earth with a fortune of about $US120 billion, is widely expected to be the world’s first trillionaire.

If the US national wealth carries on growing at its current rate and the richest few continue to increase their share of it in an increasingly polarised economy, Mr Gates will claim the title of world’s first trillionaire in his old age.

The share of America’s national wealth held by the country’s 400 richest individuals has more than tripled from less than one per cent to three per cent since the Forbes 400 list was launched in 1982.

American tax lawyer Bob Lord, who writes for, believes the growing concentration of world wealth will lead to a trillionaire in just a quarter of a century.

“We’re sliding back to Gilded Age levels of wealth concentration,” he said. “My guess is 2039 is the most likely time frame to cross that threshold.”

When Forbes began tracking the wealth of the richest 400 Americans, those with $US75 million could make it onto the low end of the list. Now at least $US1 billion is needed.

Other contenders for the world’s first trillionaire include Carlos Slim, the Mexican telecoms mogul and legendary US investor Warren Buffett.

But there are some that doubt the 25-year predictions and believe it may take few generations for another Gates-style entrepreneur to take the title.

Oliver Williams, of the London-based consultants Wealth Insight, told The Times: “You can’t be exact on when we will see the first trillionaire, and it is ‘when’ not ‘if’, but it is doubtful that it will be within 25 years; double that estimate would be more likely.

“The first trillionaire will be an inventor, someone who creates something world-changing, like Bill Gates did with the PC.

“It might be a solution to a global problem, such as the lack of fresh water, or something the world didn’t know we needed, like Facebook.”

Mr Williams believes the world’s first trillionaire would almost certainly be based in the US, where wealth accumulation is most acute.

Others argue they may come from a fast-growing economy such as India.

The Telegraph, London

Henry Sapiecha

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