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AZRAEL-DEFENDER OF HIS PEOPLE AGAINST THE SCOURGE THAT IS ISIS

People are also impressed by Azrael’s sense of humor. He mocks ISIS frequently. In one video, he even pokes fun at the group by using one of its walkie-talkies. In some ways, he is becoming a caricature of himself. Azrael has even been made into a cartoon showing him attacking a member of ISIS. But questions persist: do we know the real Azrael?

The real Azrael was born as Ayoub Faleh Al-Rabieia, according to news channel France 24. His age is unknown, although reports suggest he is between 37 and 40 years old. France 24 says he was known for studying athletics before going on to become a university lecturer. Azrael is known to have five children. He is also reportedly a Taekwondo master.

Azrael became a militant later on, but the impetus for these events is a mystery. France 24 said Azrael was originally fighting against America when they invaded Iraq. He may have even been on America’s list of terrorists. But nowadays, things are much different. The U.S. supports Azrael’s group in its war against ISIS.

In fact, the Iraqi public seems to believe in Azrael. His face adorns t-shirts sold in many markets of Baghdad. His actions have inspired hope in many people who have felt marginalized and frightened by the brutal conflict that has engulfed their country. They need his leadership more than ever before.

The militia has categorically denied that they shared images of decapitated fighters. Azrael told France 24 that he was a man of his word.  “I stand by my words. That’s why people prefer me instead of having a dishonest political who announces measures on TV but does nothing.”

Azrael does have his detractors. Some people believe that his militia have glamorized the violence of war by publishing the videos. Like other militias in the region, Amnesty International has accused the Imam Ali brigade of war crimes. They say Azrael’s groups are killing and displacing many Iraqis. And some people say they have circulated videos showing images like decapitated heads of ISIS members.

Sometimes Azrael even uploads videos to YouTube while engaged in battle, in order to dispute the claims of ISIS. Azrael says he has around 220,000 Facebook followers, a number that continues to grow. He is a force to be reckoned with.

Like others who have learned to leverage social media, Azrael has been able to get a remarkable number of views on his  videos. One of his first videos has already amassed two billion views.

Azrael seems to be a well organized machine, using two smartphones to record his attacks on ISIS and then post them to the internet, where they are shared on social media. Azrael and his cohorts are well built and strong, and they carry weapons like guns, grenades and smoke bombs.

The Imam Ali brigade have been important players in the battle against ISIS in Iraq. They were part of the forces which recaptured the Iraqi city Tikrit, which had fallen into terrorist hands. Azrael was captured on video firing a huge machine gun at ISIS in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, which was liberated from ISIS in June of 2016.

Azrael may have taken up arms after a call to action by the Ayatollah Sistani, a Shiite leader, who wanted me n to battle ISIS. Azrael was initiated and set up his own group, the Imam Ali brigade, which by most accounts he leads.

www.intelagencies.com

Henry Sapiecha

AS A NEWLYWED in the 1980s, a Japanese martial arts master named Ichiro expected only good things.

He and his wife, Tomoko, lived among the cherry blossoms in Saitima, a prosperous city just outside of Tokyo. The couple had their first child, a boy named Tim. They owned their house, and took out a loan to open a dumpling restaurant.

Then the market crashed. Suddenly, Ichiro and Tomoko were deeply in debt. So they did what hundreds of thousands of Japanese have done in similar circumstances: They sold their house, packed up their family, and disappeared. For good.

“People are cowards,” Ichiro says today. “They all want to throw in the towel one day, to disappear and reappear somewhere nobody knows them. I never envisioned running away to be an end in itself … You know, a disappearance is something you can never shake. Fleeing is a fast track toward death.”

The New York Post reports, of the many oddities that are culturally specific to Japan — from cat cafes to graveyard eviction notices to the infamous Suicide Forest, where an estimated 100 people per year take their own lives — perhaps none is as little known, and curious, as “the evaporated people.”

Since the mid-1990s, it’s estimated that at least 100,000 Japanese men and women vanish annually. They are the architects of their own disappearances, banishing themselves over indignities large and small: divorce, debt, job loss, failing an exam.

“The Vanished: The Evaporated People of Japan in Stories and Photographs” (Skyhorse) is the first known, in-depth reportage of this phenomenon. French journalist Léna Mauger learned of it in 2008, and spent the next five years reporting a story she and collaborator Stéphane Remael couldn’t believe.

“It’s so taboo,” Mauger tells The Post. “It’s something you can’t really talk about. But people can disappear because there’s another society underneath Japan’s society. When people disappear, they know they can find a way to survive.”

These lost souls, it turns out, live in lost cities of their own making.

The slums in Sanya. Picture: Zanpei

The city of Sanya, as Mauger writes, isn’t located on any map. Technically, it doesn’t even exist. It’s a slum within Tokyo, one whose name has been erased by authorities. What work can be found here is run by the yakuza — the Japanese mafia — or employers looking for cheap, off-the-books labour. The evaporated live in tiny, squalid hotel rooms, often without internet or private toilets. Talking in most hotels is forbidden after 6pm.

Here, Mauger met a man named Norihiro. Now 50, he disappeared himself 10 years ago. He’d been cheating on his wife, but his true disgrace was losing his job as an engineer.

Too ashamed to tell his family, Norihiro initially kept up appearances: he’d get up early each weekday, put on his suit and tie, grab his briefcase and kiss his wife goodbye. Then he’d drive to his former office building and spend the entire workday sitting in his car — not eating, not calling anyone.

Norihiro did this for one week. The fear that his true situation would be discovered was unbearable.

“I couldn’t do it anymore,” he tells Mauger. “After 19 hours I was still waiting, because I used to go out for drinks with my bosses and colleagues. I would roam around, and when I finally returned home, I got the impression my wife and son had doubts. I felt guilty. I didn’t have a salary to give them anymore.”

On what would have been his payday, Norihiro groomed himself immaculately, and got on his usual train line — in the other direction, right toward Sanya. He left no word, no note, and for all his family knows, he wandered into Suicide Forest and killed himself.

Today, he lives under an assumed name, in a windowless room he secures with a padlock. He drinks and smokes too much, and has resolved to live out the rest of his days practising this most masochistic form of penance.

“After all this time,” Norihiro says, “I could certainly take back my old identity … But I don’t want my family to see me in this state. Look at me. I look like nothing. I am nothing. If I die tomorrow, I don’t want anyone to be able to recognise me.”

Yuichi is a former construction worker who vanished in the mid-1990s. He’d been taking care of his sick mother, and the expenses involved — home health care, food, rent — bankrupted him.

“I couldn’t handle failing my mother,” he says. “She had given me everything, but I was incapable of taking care of her.”

What Yuichi did next may seem paradoxical, perverse even — but in Japanese culture, in which suicide is considered the most dignified way to erase the shame one has visited upon their family, it makes sense. He brought his mother to a cheap hotel, rented her a room, and left her there, never to return.

He disappeared to Sanya.

An alley in the slums known as Sanya in Tokyo. Picture: Google Maps

Here, Yuichi says, “You see people in the street, but they have already ceased to exist. When we fled from society, we disappeared the first time. Here, we are killing ourselves slowly.”

“Evaporations” have surged in Japan at key points: the aftermath of World War II, when national shame was at its apex, and in the aftermath of the financial crises of 1989 and 2008.

A shadow economy has emerged to service those who want never to be found — who want to make their disappearances look like abductions, their homes look like they’ve been robbed, no paper trail or financial transactions to track them down.

Night-time Movers was one such company, started by a man named Shou Hatori. He’d run a legitimate moving service until one night, in a karaoke bar, a woman asked if Hatori could arrange for her to “disappear, along with her furniture. She said she could not stand her husband’s debts, which were ruining her life.”

Hatori charged $3,400 per midnight move. His clientele was vast: from housewives who’d shopped their families into debt to women whose husbands had left them to university students who were sick of doing chores in their dorms.

He refused to give specifics to the authors, but he eventually quit; as a child, Hatori himself had disappeared with his parents from Kyoto, after they found themselves in debt. He believes that his former line of work was a kindness.

“People often associate [this] with cowardice,” he says. “But while doing this work, I came to understand it as a beneficial move.”

Hatori wound up serving as a consultant for a Japanese TV show about the phenomenon. “Flight by Night” was a hit in the late 1990s, a fictionalised anthology series based on true vanishings. A company based on Hatori’s, called Rising Sun, was integral to the show’s plot, summarised online:

“Need help managing your finances? Up to your ears in debt? Rising Sun is the consulting firm you need on your side. Too late for stopgap measures? Is running away or suicide the only way out? Turn once again to Rising Sun. By day, Genji Masahiko runs a reputable consulting firm, but by night, they help the desperate find a new life.”

A street in Kabukicho. Picture: Google Maps

Whatever shame motivates a Japanese citizen to vanish, it’s no less painful than the boomerang effect on their families — who, in turn, are so shamed by having a missing relative that they usually won’t report it to the police.

Those families who do search turn to a private group called Support of Families of Missing People, which keeps all clients and details private. Its address is hard to find, and its headquarters consist of one small room with one desk and walls sooty with cigarette smoke.

The organisation is staffed with detectives — often with evaporations or suicides in their own family histories — who take on these cases pro bono. They average 300 cases a year, and their work is difficult: Unlike the United States, there is no national database for missing people in Japan. There are no documents or identifiers — such as our Social Security numbers — that can be used to track a person once they begin travelling within the country. It is against the law for police to access ATM transactions or financial records.

“Most of the investigations end part way through,” says Sakae Furuuchi, a detective who serves as the group’s director. He cites the prohibitive cost of hiring private detectives: $500 a day, up to $15,000 a month — impossible for those whose loved one has fled due to debt.

“The people who flee debt and violence change their names and sometimes their appearances,” Sakae says. “The others aren’t thinking people will try to find them.”

Sakae was able to find one young man who disappeared at age 20. He hadn’t come home after taking an exam, and by chance, one of his friends spotted him in southern Tokyo. Sakae wandered the streets until finding the student, who was, Mauger writes, “shaking from shame … He had not taken the exam for fear of failing it and disappointing his family. Tempted by suicide, he had not found a way to take his life.”

Another case, unresolved, involved the young mother of a disabled 8-year-old boy. On the day of her son’s school musical, in which he was performing, the mother disappeared — despite promising the boy she’d be sitting in the front row.

Her seat remained empty. She was never seen again. Her husband and child agonise; the woman had never given any indication she was unhappy, in pain, or had done something she thought wrong.

Sakae remains hopeful.

“She’s a mother,” he tells Mauger. “Maybe her path will lead her back to her loved ones.”

The sheer cliff of Tojinbo, one of the most known suicide spots in Japan. Picture: AFP/Harumi Ozawa

In many ways, Japan is a culture of loss. According to a 2014 report by the World Health Organisation, Japan’s suicide rate is 60 per cent higher than the global average. There are between 60 and 90 suicides per day. It’s a centuries-old concept dating back to the Samurai, who committed seppuku — suicide by ritual disembowelment — and one as recent as the Japanese kamikaze pilots of World War II.

Japanese culture also emphasises uniformity, the importance of the group over the individual. “You must hit the nail that stands out” is a Japanese maxim, and for those who can’t, or won’t, fit into society, adhere to its strict cultural norms and near-religious devotion to work, to vanish is to find freedom of a sort.

For younger Japanese, those who want to live differently but don’t want to completely cut ties with family and friends, there’s a compromise: the life of the otakus, who live parallel lives as their favourite anime characters, disappearing from time to time into alternate realities where, in costume, they find themselves.

“Running away is not always about leaving,” a young man named Matt told Mauger. “We dream of love and freedom, and sometimes we make do with a little — a costume, a song, a dance with our hands. In Japan, that is already a lot.”

This story originally appeared on the New York Post and was republished with permission

Originally published as Japan’s mysterious ‘evaporating people’

Henry Sapiecha

  • Bitcoin’s mysterious creator could be Australian Craig Steven Wright

Police and tax investigators have raided the Sydney home of a man that members of the Australian bitcoin community say might be the mastermind behind the controversial cryptocurrency, just hours after reports emerged in the United States suggesting that he may be its secretive creator.

However, Fairfax Media has been told the raid at the property of Craig Steven Wright relates to an “individual taxation matter” involving Mr Wright, rather than his apparent role in creating the encrypted currency.

The alleged creator of Bitcoin, Australian Craig Steven Wright.

Photo: soldierx.com

The Australian Federal Police attended Mr Wright’s home in Gordon, on Sydney’s north shore, on Wednesday afternoon to assist the Australian Taxation Office in carrying out a search.

In a report published on Wednesday morning, US tech publication Wired said it had uncovered enough evidence to suggest that bitcoin’s mysterious founder, who operated under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, was actually 44-year-old Mr Wright.

Wired acknowledged that its report was based on “unverified leaked documents” that it admitted “could be faked in whole or in part”.

Fairfax Media attempted to contact Mr Wright for comment but received no response. The Australian Federal Police referred matters to the ATO. The ATO declined to comment.

Mr Wright is listed by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission as a director of Hotwire and another company, Panopticrypt, which are both registered at a residential address on Sydney’s North Shore. He has been a shareholder and director in a range of other enterprises, the ASIC database shows.

This Sydney property owned by Craig Steven Wright was searched by police on Wednesday.

He is also listed as chief executive on the website of a company called DeMorgan, which describes itself “a pre-IPO Australian listed company focused on alternative currency, next generation banking and reputational and educational products.” Calls to this company went straight to voicemail.

‘He was a bit weird’

At about 4.15pm, the real estate agent managing the Gordon home leased by Mr Wright entered the house after being told by a neighbour, who knew the owners, that it was being searched.

The AFP and tax investigators raid Craig Wright’s home in Gordon.

Photo: Nick Moir

Federal Police and the ATO officers were then later seen leaving the property, at 4.50pm. Asked why the federal police were at the house, they offered “no comment”.

Neighbours, who didn’t wish to named, said Mr Wright was an elusive man who had two children and a partner. He had an expensive taste in cars, they said, having seen him pull up to the house in a Toyota Land Cruiser, a Lexus, and a Jaguar.

Mr Wright, his partner, and children were not seen within the vicinity of the house.

Apart from owning a dog, which one neighbour described as “noisy”, he also owned hens, which could be seen out the back of his house.

“I thought he did something with insurance or was an entrepreneur or something,” said one neighbour, who described Wright as a “daggy dad” often seen exercising in his garage gym. “He was a bit weird.”

Another neighbour said Mr Wright apparently had three-phase, 450-volt power — normally used for industrial applications — installed at the home.

The same neighbour said he recently heard that Wright had packed up the house as he was apparently off to go live in London. None of the neighbours interviewed said that Wright had told them he was the creator of Bitcoin.

Plausible candidate

Chris Guzowski, founder of ABA Technologies and a regular on the Bitcoin conference circuit, said Wired had uncovered enough circumstantial evidence for Mr Wright to be a plausible candidate.

“It certainly makes sense,” said Mr Guzowski. “He’s definitely been in Bitcoin from the very start and has accumulated a really big stash of Bitcoin. He’s also been in this huge stoush with the ATO for a long time.”

Andrew Sommer, a partner at Clayton Utz and who testified at last year’s Senate Inquiry into digital currency, is reputedly Mr White’s lawyer.

But Mr Sommer said he couldn’t comment on any client when contacted by Fairfax.

Zhenya Tsvetnenko, founder of bitcoin remittancy company Digital BTC, has discussed business with Mr Wright previously and was struck by his understanding of Bitcoin and his long history with the protocol.

“It could definitely be him, I remember thinking this guy could be Satoshi at the time,” Mr Tsvetnenko said

“I asked him how many Bitcoin he had and he said enough to buy a pizza. Which is a joke because it’s well known in the Bitcoin community the first thing bought with the very first Bitcoin was a pizza.”

The Wired story was not the first time a media outlet has claimed to reveal the true identity of bitcoin’s founder.

Last year, US magazine Newsweek said it had found the mysterious person behind the cryptocurrency t. However the man it named, Dorien Nakamoto, unconditionally denied Newsweek’s claim, and subsequently sued the publication.

The Wired report cites archived blog posts from as far back as 2008, purportedly written by Mr Wright, which discuss aspects of the distributed ledger that is a key element of bitcoin, as well as leaked emails and a liquidation report by Australian corporate recovery firm McGrath Nicol involving one of Mr Wright’s companies.

McGrath Nicol confirmed the veracity of the liquidation report, which states that the company, called Hotwire Preemptive Intelligence, was backed by $30 million in capital that was “injected via bitcoins”.

Potential hoax

Wired acknowledged that the trail of evidence leading to Mr Wright could be part of an elaborate hoax.

Asher Tan of CoinJar, Australia’s largest bitcoin exchange, said he was skeptical of Wired‘s claim, pointing out the bitcoin community relies on mathematical proof.

Solid technical proof should be given more weight than speculation, he said.

“There are some methods of doing this,” Mr Tan said. These would include “moving bitcoin attributed to Satoshi’s personal stash or utilising his personal encryption key (PGP) to communicate.

“These aren’t foolproof methods of identifying him, but anyone who publicly stakes a claim to being Satoshi would be expected to demonstrate either of these methods.”

The New York Times, which conducted an inconclusive investigation of its own into the matter, has described Mr Nakamoto’s identity as “one of the great mysteries of the digital age”.

But many in the bitcoin community believe that the identity of the person (or people) behind Nakamoto is irrelevant, since the virtual currency is an open source and community driven technology. It sure is a fun story though.

Do you know Satoshi Nakamoto? Email our reporters.

Henry Sapiecha

SO YOU WANT TO BECOME WEALTHY & WISE?.WELL PERHAPS YOU CAN LEARN HOW HERE

RICHARD BRANSON THUMBS UP IMAGE www.acbocallcentre.com

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.

Virgin

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).

Snapshot

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.

ooo

Henry Sapiecha

 

IS INDIA THE SLAVE CAPITAL OF THE WORLD WITH 30MILLION SLAVES..????Modern slavery takes many forms, including sex trafficking. A prostitute stands on a street corner image www.acbocallcentre.com

No choice: Modern slavery takes many forms, including sex trafficking. A prostitute stands on a street corner. Photo: Peter Morris

London: Almost 36 million people are living as slaves across the globe, with an index on Monday listing Mauritania, Uzbekistan, Haiti, Qatar and India as the nations where modern-day slavery is most prevalent.

The Walk Free Foundation, an Australian-based human rights group, estimated in its inaugural slavery index last year that 29.8 million people were born into servitude, trafficked for sex work, trapped in debt bondage or exploited for forced labour. This year’s figure represents about 0.5 per cent of the world’s estimated population of 7 billion people.

Releasing its second annual index, Walk Free increased its estimate of the number of slaves to 35.8 million, saying this was due to better data collection and slavery being uncovered in areas where it had not been found previously.

For the second year, the index of 167 countries found India had by far the greatest number of slaves. Up to 14.3 million people in its population of 1.25 billion were victims of slavery, ranging from prostitution to bonded labour.

Mauritania was again the country where slavery was most prevalent by head of population while Qatar, host of the 2022 World Cup, rose up the rank from 96th place to be listed as the fourth-worst country by percentage of the population.

“From children denied an education by being forced to work or marry early, to men unable to leave their work because of crushing debts they owe to recruitment agents, to women and girls exploited as unpaid, abused domestic workers, modern slavery has many faces,” the report said.

“It still exists today, in every country – modern slavery affects us all.”

The index defines slavery as the control or possession of people in such a way as to deprive them of their freedom with the intention of exploiting them for profit or sex, usually through violence, coercion or deception.

The definition includes indentured servitude, forced marriage and the abduction of children to serve in wars.

Hereditary slavery is deeply entrenched in the West African country of Mauritania, where 4 per cent of the population of 3.9 million is estimated to be enslaved, the report said.

After Mauritania, slavery was most prevalent in Uzbekistan, where citizens are forced to pick cotton every year to meet state-imposed cotton quotas, and Haiti, where the practice of sending poor children to stay with richer acquaintances or relatives routinely leads to abuse and forced labour, it said.

Qatar was ranked fourth.

The tiny Gulf state relies heavily on migrants to build its mega-projects including soccer stadiums for the 2022 World Cup. It has come under scrutiny by rights groups over its treatment of migrant workers, most from Asia, who come to toil on construction sites, oil projects or work as domestic help.

The next highest prevalence rates were found in India, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Syria and Central African Republic.

The index showed that 10 countries alone account for 71 per cent of the world’s slaves.

After India, China has the most with 3.2 million, then Pakistan (2.1 million), Uzbekistan (1.2 million), Russia (1.05 million), Nigeria (834,200), Democratic Republic of Congo (762,900), Indonesia (714,100), Bangladesh (680,900) and Thailand (475,300).

For the first time, the index rated governments on their response to slavery. It found the Netherlands, followed by Sweden, the United States, Australia, Switzerland, Ireland, Norway, Britain, Georgia and Austria had the strongest response.

At the opposite end of the scale, North Korea, Iran, Syria, Eritrea, Central African Republic, Libya, Equatorial Guinea, Uzbekistan, Republic of Congo and Iraq had the worst responses.

Every country in the world apart from North Korea has laws that criminalise some form of slavery, yet most governments could do more to assist victims and root out slavery from supply chains, Walk Free Foundation’s head of global research said.

“What the results show is that a lot is being done on paper but it’s not necessarily translating into results,” Fiona David told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by telephone from Canberra.

“Most countries got 50 per cent or less when we looked at the strength of their victim assistance regime. It’s also striking that … out of 167 countries we could only find three [Australia, Brazil and the United States] where governments have put things in place on supply chains.”

The report showed that conflict had a direct impact on the prevalence of slavery, Ms David said, citing the example of the Islamic State militant group which has abducted women and girls in Iraq and Syria for use as sex slaves.

“What our numbers show is the correlation really is quite strong so as an international community, we need to make planning for this kind of problem part of the humanitarian response to crisis situations,” Ms David said.

Reuters

Henry Sapiecha

man hand clenching bank notes image www.acbocallcentre.com

There are now 13.7 million millionaires in the world, according to a Capgemini- Royal Bank of Canada study.

Nearly two million people around the world became millionaires in 2013, a year-over-year increase of 15 per cent, as surging stock and home markets lifted the fortunes of the wealthy. The increase raised the number of millionaires to a record 13.7 million.

A report from consultant Capgemini and the Royal Bank of Canada estimated the combined net worth of millionaires at $US53 trillion ($A57.34 trillion) in 2013. That was up 14 per cent from the year earlier – the second-biggest increase since the two companies began issuing wealth reports with comparable data in 2000.

The accelerating pace of wealth accumulation among the affluent coincides with a widening gap between the rich and everyone else in many developed countries.

Japan gained 425,000 millionaires – a rise of 22 per cent, its biggest year-over-year increase since 2000. Japan’s was the largest percentage gain among the 25 countries with the most millionaires.

A big reason for the jump in Japan was surging stocks. The Nikkei 225, the main stock index, rose 57 per cent in 2013. By contrast, the Standard and Poor’s 500, an index of big US companies, rose nearly 30 per cent.

A report from Boston Consulting Group earlier in June found that similar factors were driving an increase in the number of millionaires in Australia.

Surging sharemarkets created 43,000 new millionaire households in Australia, increasing wealth at the rate of more than $1 billion a day during 2013, according to the BCG study.

One in 50 households in Australia has more than $1 million in liquid wealth, the study found.

In Capgemini’s global report, Japanese millionaires totalled 2.3 million, second only to the United States. The number of US millionaires rose 570,000, 17 per cent, to four million.

Globally, a bigger increase in the number of millionaires and in combined wealth occurred in 2009, when many stock markets began rising from multi-year lows.

Much of the world’s stock wealth is concentrated among the rich. In the US, for instance, 80 per cent of stock is owned by the wealthiest 10 per cent of households. Rising stock prices have helped boost the net worth of the wealthy and, thanks to dividends, their income.

By contrast, the middle class in many countries has struggled as millions of jobs wiped out in the financial crisis have yet to return. And wages, their primary source of income, have barely kept up with inflation.

In the US, incomes for the highest-earning one per cent rose 31 per cent from 2009 through 2012, after adjusting for inflation, according to data compiled by Emmanuel Saez, an economist at University of California, Berkeley. For everyone else, income rose an average of 0.4 per cent.

The new wealth report tracks net worth of individuals, with assets defined as investments such stocks, bonds, cash, and primary residences. The report is based on a survey this year of more than 4,500 people in 23 countries.

Henry Sapiecha

Chinese billionaire philanthropist Chen Guangbiao selling canned air in 2013 image www.acbocallcentre.com

Chinese billionaire philanthropist Chen Guangbiao selling canned air in 2013

Shanghai: A Chinese billionaire has announced plans to invite 1000 impoverished Americans for a meal in Central Park in an attempt to show fellow tycoons that there is more to life than “luxury goods, gambling and prostitution”.

Chen Guangbiao, a recycling magnate from the eastern province of Jiangsu, issued the invitation to his “charity luncheon for 1000 poor and destitute Americans” through two prominent advertisements placed in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal this week. Guests will be given $US300 to spend on “occupational training” as well as lunch at the Loeb Boathouse restaurant in Manhattan’s Central Park.

The restaurant, which featured in the 1989 film When Harry Met Sally, describes itself as “the ultimate urban oasis” and “a haven for romantics and nature lovers”.

Mr Chen said he hoped that the lunch, which he expected to cost about $US1million, would boost relations between China and the United States and change perceptions of wealthy Chinese.

“I want to spread the message in the US that there are good philanthropists in China and not all are crazy spenders on luxury goods,” he told Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post.

The tycoon, whose past stunts include selling canned air to raise awareness of pollution and smashing a Mercedes Benz to draw attention to global warming, also hoped to serve as a role model for Chinese billionaires.

He said: “There are many wealthy Chinese billionaires but most of them gained their wealth from market speculation and colluding with government officials while destroying the environment.

“I can’t bear the sight of it, because all they do is splurge on luxury goods, gambling and prostitution and very few of them sincerely live up their social responsibility.”

It was not immediately clear whether Mr Chen’s guests would be offered a set menu at the Central Park feast or be allowed to choose from the restaurant’s a la carte lunch menu, which features dishes such as Lemon-Oregano Crusted Salmon and Yellowfin Tuna Sashimi with Tobiko Caviar and Jalapeno Wasabi Vinaigrette.

In a 2010 interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Chen said he hoped to build a “charity army” of wealthy Chinese business people who would pump large chunks of their profits back into society.

Telegraph, UK

Henry Sapiecha

 

Kirsty Bertarelli performing as a support to Mick Hucknall and Simply Red at Edinburgh Castle in 2010

Kirsty Bertarelli performing as a support to Mick Hucknall and Simply Red at Edinburgh Castle in 2010. Photo: Getty Images

Extraordinary things happen to Kirsty Bertarelli’s pretty face when you ask her about her wealth. A moment previously she’d been chatting animatedly but, as soon as I mention money, her translucent eyes narrow, her high cheekbones tense, her full lips quiver. Her hands shake slightly as she grasps her soy cappuccino.

I feel unkind for making us dwell on such a vulgar topic, but I can hardly ignore it. Bertarelli is the richest woman in Britain, her fortune far exceeding that of, for example, the Queen, JK Rowling and Slavica Ecclestone.

She and her husband, pharmaceuticals heir Ernesto Bertarelli (the fifth richest man in Britain according to the Rich List, and the richest in Switzerland), are worth an estimated £6.87 billion ($A12.45 billion) and divide their time between an £8 million estate in Gstaad where ponies and llamas roam, a £10 million mansion in Geneva, and a mews house in Belgravia.

Bertarelli’s story isn’t exactly rags-to-riches. Born Kirsty Roper, she grew up in Stone, Staffordshire, the youngest daughter of a businessman who, with his brothers, owned Churchill China, one of the world’s major manufacturers of ceramics. “It was an amazing childhood,” she confirms. “We had so many opportunities: riding, tennis. We were taught good values; in the holidays we worked in my father’s factory. It taught us to be grounded.”

She was, she says, a “sensitive, emotional” child, always writing “little snippets of poetry” and appearing in local musicals. She boarded at the now-defunct Howell’s School, in north Wales. “It really did feel like a separation, I really didn’t want to go, but then … I made some good friends and we’re still in touch. I mean … it’s difficult to see them, but we stay in touch on Instagram.”

The summer after she gained seven O-levels, she became ill with bacterial meningitis. Her parents – to whom she is close — discovered her collapsed; doctors said if they’d come an hour later, she’d have died. The scare made her decide not to continue her education. “A near-death experience does heighten what’s important, and I knew I wanted to write.”

While trying to enter the music industry, she joined a model agency, which entered her for Miss UK, part of her past she refuses – admirably – to disown. “I thought the whole beauty pageant thing was quite funny; I didn’t even realise I’d won – I thought it had gone to Miss Mansfield,” she says. “I remember waking up the next morning feeling excited about it.”

She went on to win £1000 as “second runner-up” in the 1988 Miss World and continued modelling in advertisements and for catalogues. A trust fund bought her a flat in South Kensington and a place in the glossy Sloane set. For two years, she lived with casino heir Damian Aspinall in Belgravia.

At 26, she met Ernesto Bertarelli at a dinner party in a Sardinian villa. With his sister, he had just inherited Serono, the pharmaceutical company founded by his grandfather. Between 1996 and 2006, he more than doubled Serono’s revenue to $US2.8 billion, by changing its focus from pharmaceuticals to biotechnology, largely thanks to its discovery of the multiple sclerosis drug Rebif. In 2007, the family sold the company for £9 billion, since then investing in everything from property to drug companies, and philanthropy.

“There were so many girls wanting to be with him and I think he just found me… naively refreshing,” she says. “All I wanted to do was sing and be successful; I had this drive. He wouldn’t like it if I was shopping all day – but that’s just not me.” But, for a period, personal ambition was put to one side. “I was swept off my feet. Ernesto’s such an achiever; he really goes for it in business and sport and I wanted to be part of the action. I follow him everywhere, whether it’s diving in oceans or jumping out of a helicopter to ski, when I’d only skied twice in my life before.”

Still, Bertarelli continued writing, and had just won a record deal with Warner Bros. But on their honeymoon, she became pregnant with her daughter Chiara, now 13. “We were on a safari run by Maasai warriors; we were in tents and we didn’t actually see many animals, it was a bit of a disappointment. Then we went to Mauritius – but Ernesto had failed to notice that July is the rainy season, so we spent a lot of time indoors, hence nine months later the baby,” she says, giggling.

And so, like millions of women, motherhood put a stop to Bertarelli’s career. Two more children, Falco, now nine, and Alceo, seven, followed. Then there was the distraction of the America’s Cup, the world’s most contested (not to mention costly) yacht race, which Ernesto’s team, Alinghi, won in 2003 and 2007, meaning the family had to relocate for months first to New Zealand, then to Spain.

“The music industry’s very tough, there were all these changes and takeovers at Warner Bros. and at that time I was overwhelmed with motherly love, I only wanted to be with the children, plus I was devoted to supporting Ernesto. But my passion for music never stopped. It was a torment; I remember feeling like something was missing from my life. It’s hard to find the time to write songs, though. A lot of them I compose in the bath – it’s the only place where I can lock the door and the children can’t interrupt.”

It’s an “amazing” life, as Bertarelli, 42, from middle-class Staffordshire origins, admits. Her Instagram feed is full of envy-inducing photos of her in various exotic locations posing in skimpy swimsuits on her yacht Vava II, a £100 million 40th birthday present from her husband (there was also a $US3 million birthday party). They yacht is the largest ever built in the UK and includes a “fold-down beach club” (there are snaps of guests doing yoga on the deck), a helicopter pad and a swimming pool.One moment she’s playing golf in Hawaii, the next enjoying sunsets in the Alps, while her Italian-born husband, 48, is pictured skiing and windsurfing. Beside the photos, old Chelsea buddies such as Emily Oppenheimer and Lisa Tchenguiz make comments such as “Show off” and “U haven’t changed. Still remember u dancing on the gold palm trees in the Cave”.But inquiries about these activities – not to mention the private jet and couture wardrobe – are not welcome today, because I’m not meeting Mrs Bertarelli but her alter-ego, singer-songwriter “Kirsty”, who’s launching her first British album, Indigo Shores.We’re sitting in a cafe near my house in west London, Bertarelli’s “people” having disappointingly vetoed my suggestion that we meet in one of her residences. A Jaguar is parked outside, chauffeur waiting in the sunshine; there are almost certainly bodyguards.

Similar-looking to supermodel Gisele Bundchen, Bertarelli is tanned and discreetly made-up. Her wavy hair is much darker and lips less puffy than in photos charting her Eurotrash past – presumably part of the campaign to be taken seriously. Her outfit is hippie chic: flared jeans, a loose chiffon shirt, an unblingy rope of pearls hanging around her neck.

She’s friendly, especially when discussing her children, and laughs often, but the Instagram party girl (at New Year she’s in a skimpy slave-girl costume grinning into the camera) is absent, replaced by a wary woman, who answers most questions in platitudes that remind you she’s a former Miss UK.

“Kirsty’s surrounded by jealousy and negativity,” someone close to her explains. “It makes her very defensive.” Comments on her YouTube page attest to that. “Her husband must have paid a fortune to go along with this,” is a typical comment under a video of her duetting with Ronan Keating. Has she learnt a strategy to cope with the barbs? Bertarelli tenses. “Yah, I have in a way,” she says in her oddly Australian-tinged voice. “People have preconceived ideas, but the music is part of me. It’s not like I woke up one day and thought, ‘Oh, I’ll be a pop star.’?”

True, before marriage Bertarelli was striving to make it as a singer-songwriter (though contemporaries also remember her as a girl about town). In 2000, she wrote the song Black Coffee, which a record producer approved but then refused to let her record, instead “giving” it to All Saints, stellar at the time, who took it to number one, bringing her £12,000 in royalties.

“Hearing my song on the radio brought mixed emotions,” she says, smiling. “I have to be thankful to All Saints, they were so popular at the time they could make the song number one, but I knew the emotions behind that song. I wanted to sing it myself because there’d have been real meaning behind it, which was my love for Ernesto.” Passionately she declaims the lyrics. “‘I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here, anywhere at all’; that was how he made me feel.” She did, however, sing it in a Valentino gown in front of 250 people at her Geneva wedding. “Yah, I reclaimed it!”

The couple are clearly devoted parents. Ernesto has said he’s determined to be closer to his children than he was to his own father. “His father was away a lot, working excessively, so he and his sister were quite often alone, brought up by their mother – who’s a remarkable woman in her own right – while he built up the company. But we’re a very close-knit family; I had that upbringing and it really was what I wanted to achieve for my children, though it’s slightly more difficult…” she trails off.

“We don’t have a nanny anymore,” she continues. “I don’t want one; I didn’t have one. Ernesto and I are always at home, bringing up the kids. Every morning we’re preparing breakfast for them, there’s pandemonium in the kitchen, alarms going off, who has a rugby match, who has a football match. We cook for them; I know it sounds crazy! They love beans on toast; it’s Heinz but they think it’s my recipe. One of them said, ‘Don’t give your recipe away, Mummy,’ though my youngest won’t touch them; he thinks they’re absolutely disgusting.”

Like many mothers who’ve served their time during the children’s early years, Bertarelli’s now having her moment. “They’re old enough I can do a little touring and promotion and not have it affect them. It’s good for your children to see you working and having goals and aspirations.”

Still, there are child-care hassles. “Ernesto’s in London doing business so we had to think about it. Chiara can board a couple of nights, my second is on a school trip, the third one was a problem but then we realised he could stay with his cousins. Sorted!”

Having sung at charity fund-raisers, four years ago Bertarelli signed a deal with the Swiss branch of Universal Music. “My album went into the top 20 and I have my little fan base there,” she says. Then last year, Ernesto helped fund her second album, Love Is, featuring her duet with Ronan -Keating. Several tracks were mixed by techno and dance DJs; one, Hands High, was championed by Radio One’s Dance Anthems.

Vanity recording is the Ming china elephant in the room. Her husband isn’t bankrolling this album, she says; she has her own deal with Decca. “I don’t think Ernesto is going to stop working and rely on my income just yet. It still feels fantastic, though. It’s important to make your own money – it makes buying a present mean so much more, and it’s important for your own self-worth, self-belief.”

So what of Indigo Shores? Well, Bertarelli’s voice is fine – no worse than Madonna’s, put it that way. It lacks the emotional whoomph of Adele, one cited influence, but it’s pleasant Magic FM fodder. My children enjoyed it. “Which songs did they like?” Bertarelli inquires sharply, suspicious of insincere compliments.

The songs give more insight into the Bertarellis’ life than she’s prepared to communicate in person. Several are influenced by holidays in Indonesia, the US, riding on Ernesto’s Harley, about him proposing to her in Mexico to the strains of a Mariachi band. There’s one about her daughter turning 13 (“It’s tough as a mother, you have to stand back but at the same time you have to be there”), another about her “magnetic” love for her son – inspired by watching waves in the moonlight, waiting for Ernesto to return from sailing.

Disappeared, the first single, is about “how we want to be accepted for ourselves, to be loved faults and all. Like if you’re messy.” Is she messy? “Yah, Ernesto can’t understand why I can’t cut bread neatly. But it’s hard, right?”

It’s not going to be easy to persuade the public to love Britain’s richest woman for what she is, but I commend Bertarelli for trying. “I’m so nervous when I sing in public,” she says. “Everything in my body is shouting, ‘Don’t do it! But you have to overcome terror; you’ll never know what could have been if you don’t take risks.”

The Telegraph, London

 

Kirsty Bertarelli performing as a support to Mick Hucknall and Simply Red at Edinburgh Castle in 2010

Kirsty Bertarelli performing as a support to Mick Hucknall and Simply Red at Edinburgh Castle in 2010. Photo: Getty Images

Extraordinary things happen to Kirsty Bertarelli’s pretty face when you ask her about her wealth. A moment previously she’d been chatting animatedly but, as soon as I mention money, her translucent eyes narrow, her high cheekbones tense, her full lips quiver. Her hands shake slightly as she grasps her soy cappuccino.

I feel unkind for making us dwell on such a vulgar topic, but I can hardly ignore it. Bertarelli is the richest woman in Britain, her fortune far exceeding that of, for example, the Queen, JK Rowling and Slavica Ecclestone.

She and her husband, pharmaceuticals heir Ernesto Bertarelli (the fifth richest man in Britain according to the Rich List, and the richest in Switzerland), are worth an estimated £6.87 billion ($A12.45 billion) and divide their time between an £8 million estate in Gstaad where ponies and llamas roam, a £10 million mansion in Geneva, and a mews house in Belgravia.

Bertarelli’s story isn’t exactly rags-to-riches. Born Kirsty Roper, she grew up in Stone, Staffordshire, the youngest daughter of a businessman who, with his brothers, owned Churchill China, one of the world’s major manufacturers of ceramics. “It was an amazing childhood,” she confirms. “We had so many opportunities: riding, tennis. We were taught good values; in the holidays we worked in my father’s factory. It taught us to be grounded.”

She was, she says, a “sensitive, emotional” child, always writing “little snippets of poetry” and appearing in local musicals. She boarded at the now-defunct Howell’s School, in north Wales. “It really did feel like a separation, I really didn’t want to go, but then … I made some good friends and we’re still in touch. I mean … it’s difficult to see them, but we stay in touch on Instagram.”

The summer after she gained seven O-levels, she became ill with bacterial meningitis. Her parents – to whom she is close — discovered her collapsed; doctors said if they’d come an hour later, she’d have died. The scare made her decide not to continue her education. “A near-death experience does heighten what’s important, and I knew I wanted to write.”

While trying to enter the music industry, she joined a model agency, which entered her for Miss UK, part of her past she refuses – admirably – to disown. “I thought the whole beauty pageant thing was quite funny; I didn’t even realise I’d won – I thought it had gone to Miss Mansfield,” she says. “I remember waking up the next morning feeling excited about it.”

She went on to win £1000 as “second runner-up” in the 1988 Miss World and continued modelling in advertisements and for catalogues. A trust fund bought her a flat in South Kensington and a place in the glossy Sloane set. For two years, she lived with casino heir Damian Aspinall in Belgravia.

At 26, she met Ernesto Bertarelli at a dinner party in a Sardinian villa. With his sister, he had just inherited Serono, the pharmaceutical company founded by his grandfather. Between 1996 and 2006, he more than doubled Serono’s revenue to $US2.8 billion, by changing its focus from pharmaceuticals to biotechnology, largely thanks to its discovery of the multiple sclerosis drug Rebif. In 2007, the family sold the company for £9 billion, since then investing in everything from property to drug companies, and philanthropy.

“There were so many girls wanting to be with him and I think he just found me… naively refreshing,” she says. “All I wanted to do was sing and be successful; I had this drive. He wouldn’t like it if I was shopping all day – but that’s just not me.” But, for a period, personal ambition was put to one side. “I was swept off my feet. Ernesto’s such an achiever; he really goes for it in business and sport and I wanted to be part of the action. I follow him everywhere, whether it’s diving in oceans or jumping out of a helicopter to ski, when I’d only skied twice in my life before.”

Still, Bertarelli continued writing, and had just won a record deal with Warner Bros. But on their honeymoon, she became pregnant with her daughter Chiara, now 13. “We were on a safari run by Maasai warriors; we were in tents and we didn’t actually see many animals, it was a bit of a disappointment. Then we went to Mauritius – but Ernesto had failed to notice that July is the rainy season, so we spent a lot of time indoors, hence nine months later the baby,” she says, giggling.

And so, like millions of women, motherhood put a stop to Bertarelli’s career. Two more children, Falco, now nine, and Alceo, seven, followed. Then there was the distraction of the America’s Cup, the world’s most contested (not to mention costly) yacht race, which Ernesto’s team, Alinghi, won in 2003 and 2007, meaning the family had to relocate for months first to New Zealand, then to Spain.

“The music industry’s very tough, there were all these changes and takeovers at Warner Bros. and at that time I was overwhelmed with motherly love, I only wanted to be with the children, plus I was devoted to supporting Ernesto. But my passion for music never stopped. It was a torment; I remember feeling like something was missing from my life. It’s hard to find the time to write songs, though. A lot of them I compose in the bath – it’s the only place where I can lock the door and the children can’t interrupt.”

It’s an “amazing” life, as Bertarelli, 42, from middle-class Staffordshire origins, admits. Her Instagram feed is full of envy-inducing photos of her in various exotic locations posing in skimpy swimsuits on her yacht Vava II, a £100 million 40th birthday present from her husband (there was also a $US3 million birthday party). They yacht is the largest ever built in the UK and includes a “fold-down beach club” (there are snaps of guests doing yoga on the deck), a helicopter pad and a swimming pool.One moment she’s playing golf in Hawaii, the next enjoying sunsets in the Alps, while her Italian-born husband, 48, is pictured skiing and windsurfing. Beside the photos, old Chelsea buddies such as Emily Oppenheimer and Lisa Tchenguiz make comments such as “Show off” and “U haven’t changed. Still remember u dancing on the gold palm trees in the Cave”.But inquiries about these activities – not to mention the private jet and couture wardrobe – are not welcome today, because I’m not meeting Mrs Bertarelli but her alter-ego, singer-songwriter “Kirsty”, who’s launching her first British album, Indigo Shores.We’re sitting in a cafe near my house in west London, Bertarelli’s “people” having disappointingly vetoed my suggestion that we meet in one of her residences. A Jaguar is parked outside, chauffeur waiting in the sunshine; there are almost certainly bodyguards.

Similar-looking to supermodel Gisele Bundchen, Bertarelli is tanned and discreetly made-up. Her wavy hair is much darker and lips less puffy than in photos charting her Eurotrash past – presumably part of the campaign to be taken seriously. Her outfit is hippie chic: flared jeans, a loose chiffon shirt, an unblingy rope of pearls hanging around her neck.

She’s friendly, especially when discussing her children, and laughs often, but the Instagram party girl (at New Year she’s in a skimpy slave-girl costume grinning into the camera) is absent, replaced by a wary woman, who answers most questions in platitudes that remind you she’s a former Miss UK.

“Kirsty’s surrounded by jealousy and negativity,” someone close to her explains. “It makes her very defensive.” Comments on her YouTube page attest to that. “Her husband must have paid a fortune to go along with this,” is a typical comment under a video of her duetting with Ronan Keating. Has she learnt a strategy to cope with the barbs? Bertarelli tenses. “Yah, I have in a way,” she says in her oddly Australian-tinged voice. “People have preconceived ideas, but the music is part of me. It’s not like I woke up one day and thought, ‘Oh, I’ll be a pop star.’?”

True, before marriage Bertarelli was striving to make it as a singer-songwriter (though contemporaries also remember her as a girl about town). In 2000, she wrote the song Black Coffee, which a record producer approved but then refused to let her record, instead “giving” it to All Saints, stellar at the time, who took it to number one, bringing her £12,000 in royalties.

“Hearing my song on the radio brought mixed emotions,” she says, smiling. “I have to be thankful to All Saints, they were so popular at the time they could make the song number one, but I knew the emotions behind that song. I wanted to sing it myself because there’d have been real meaning behind it, which was my love for Ernesto.” Passionately she declaims the lyrics. “‘I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here, anywhere at all’; that was how he made me feel.” She did, however, sing it in a Valentino gown in front of 250 people at her Geneva wedding. “Yah, I reclaimed it!”

The couple are clearly devoted parents. Ernesto has said he’s determined to be closer to his children than he was to his own father. “His father was away a lot, working excessively, so he and his sister were quite often alone, brought up by their mother – who’s a remarkable woman in her own right – while he built up the company. But we’re a very close-knit family; I had that upbringing and it really was what I wanted to achieve for my children, though it’s slightly more difficult…” she trails off.

“We don’t have a nanny anymore,” she continues. “I don’t want one; I didn’t have one. Ernesto and I are always at home, bringing up the kids. Every morning we’re preparing breakfast for them, there’s pandemonium in the kitchen, alarms going off, who has a rugby match, who has a football match. We cook for them; I know it sounds crazy! They love beans on toast; it’s Heinz but they think it’s my recipe. One of them said, ‘Don’t give your recipe away, Mummy,’ though my youngest won’t touch them; he thinks they’re absolutely disgusting.”

Like many mothers who’ve served their time during the children’s early years, Bertarelli’s now having her moment. “They’re old enough I can do a little touring and promotion and not have it affect them. It’s good for your children to see you working and having goals and aspirations.”

Still, there are child-care hassles. “Ernesto’s in London doing business so we had to think about it. Chiara can board a couple of nights, my second is on a school trip, the third one was a problem but then we realised he could stay with his cousins. Sorted!”

Having sung at charity fund-raisers, four years ago Bertarelli signed a deal with the Swiss branch of Universal Music. “My album went into the top 20 and I have my little fan base there,” she says. Then last year, Ernesto helped fund her second album, Love Is, featuring her duet with Ronan -Keating. Several tracks were mixed by techno and dance DJs; one, Hands High, was championed by Radio One’s Dance Anthems.

Vanity recording is the Ming china elephant in the room. Her husband isn’t bankrolling this album, she says; she has her own deal with Decca. “I don’t think Ernesto is going to stop working and rely on my income just yet. It still feels fantastic, though. It’s important to make your own money – it makes buying a present mean so much more, and it’s important for your own self-worth, self-belief.”

So what of Indigo Shores? Well, Bertarelli’s voice is fine – no worse than Madonna’s, put it that way. It lacks the emotional whoomph of Adele, one cited influence, but it’s pleasant Magic FM fodder. My children enjoyed it. “Which songs did they like?” Bertarelli inquires sharply, suspicious of insincere compliments.

The songs give more insight into the Bertarellis’ life than she’s prepared to communicate in person. Several are influenced by holidays in Indonesia, the US, riding on Ernesto’s Harley, about him proposing to her in Mexico to the strains of a Mariachi band. There’s one about her daughter turning 13 (“It’s tough as a mother, you have to stand back but at the same time you have to be there”), another about her “magnetic” love for her son – inspired by watching waves in the moonlight, waiting for Ernesto to return from sailing.

Disappeared, the first single, is about “how we want to be accepted for ourselves, to be loved faults and all. Like if you’re messy.” Is she messy? “Yah, Ernesto can’t understand why I can’t cut bread neatly. But it’s hard, right?”

It’s not going to be easy to persuade the public to love Britain’s richest woman for what she is, but I commend Bertarelli for trying. “I’m so nervous when I sing in public,” she says. “Everything in my body is shouting, ‘Don’t do it! But you have to overcome terror; you’ll never know what could have been if you don’t take risks.”

The Telegraph, London

THE WORLDS RICHEST PERSON BILL GATES TO REACH THE 1ST TRILLIONAIRE STATUS

BILL GATES MICROSOFT SUPER RICH IMAGE www.acbocallcentre.com

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 Inequality.org, 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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