Lessons Learned from a Leading Philanthropist

This is a flashback to one of my most favourite posts regarding lessons learned from billionaire businessman and philanthropist Michael Lee-Chin.

I had the opportunity to attend a lecture by billionaire businessman and philanthropist Michael Lee-Chin at The Rotman School of Management at The University of Toronto. He was speaking there as part of an investor speaker series and there were approximately 250 people in attendance. In the lecture, he outlined some of his investing and life principles. Afterwards, I attended a reception, where I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Lee-Chin.

It was truly an honour to meet him. In life, I believe, that you can learn from anyone regardless of status. When you have the opportunity though to learn from people like Michael Lee-Chin who have achieved extraordinary success in life be it with their families, in their business and in the philanthropy/contribution area, it is important to take special heed. This blog article contains my musings on my encounter with one of Jamaica’s and Canada’s most successful businessmen and philanthropists. If you are interested in learning more about Michael Lee-Chin’s career and philanthropy, there are numerous articles that describe his rise to fame and fortune.

From the lecture and my conversation with Michael Lee-Chin, I took away many lessons that will inspire me for a lifetime. One of the main lessons that was reinforced was that anyone can have a successful life, if they are willing to do the required work AND implement proven success strategies. If you examine the lives of successful people you will see commonalities. Success, as businessman and motivational guru Tony Robbins likes to say leaves clues.

Early in his business career as a young man, Michael Lee-Chin visited families in order to sell investments. One of the primary questions he would ask is, how can I make this family wealthy? In other words, how I can create value for this family? This is a question worth asking on a daily basis. How can you create value for people on a regular basis? As an employee, how can you contribute to your employer on a daily basis? As an entrepreneur, how are you helping your clients solve problems so that they can attract clients and new opportunities as well as save money? As a speaker, how are you ensuring that your message resonates with your audience? As a family member, how are you contributing value in terms of your love and time to the development of your family? Your answer to this question which is about contribution and the actions that you take can be a determinant for your success in life.

We all know that there are proven and timeless principles and formulas that will help us live successful lives. While there are various formulas and principles that outline how to become successful, find the strategies that work for you. Michael Lee-Chin in his lecture outlined some of his principles for building wealth.

When he was a young man starting out in the business world, Michael Lee- Chin also studied the wealthiest people in the world. He discovered five main principles that wealthy people around the world have used to build their wealth overtime. While I’m not an investment advisor, here are the principles with my personal perspective on them. They are:

1.Buy a few high quality businesses.
People who have accumulated great wealth overtime have usually concentrated on buying or investing in a few high quality businesses. In other words, they are focused investors in terms of the type, quality and the number of businesses that they have. If you apply this principle even further to the personal level consider this. Do you invest your time in many different things that don’t yield great results? Or are you using your energy and time in a few high quality things that help you achieve optimum results to reach your goals.

2. Once you own these high quality businesses (i.e. investments) understand these businesses thoroughly.
Once you buy high quality businesses become the expert on those businesses. In other words, know them inside and out. Applying this to the personal level, regardless of how small the amounts are, do you know all the intricate details about your investments. Do you know how they are performing on a consistent basis? If you don’t know the specifics about your investments, make it a priority now. While your investment advisor may be competent, you are the one who has the greatest stake in your future so ensure you understand your investments thoroughly.

3. Invest in businesses that have strong, long term growth.
When it comes to your investments, are they performing consistently and growing in the long term? That is one of the key to success. Even though there may periods when your investments have lower returns monitor them consistently to ensure that they overall have strong, long term growth.

4. Use other people’s money prudently.
Using other people’s money prudently means, how can you learn to borrow and invest intelligently to purchase businesses or investments in order to build your wealth. As we all know, this is easier said than done. If you are able to invest with other people’s money to build your wealth ensure that have you done your due diligence on all accounts.

5. Hold on to your businesses (i.e. investments) for the long term.
Unless you win it, marry it or inherit it, building wealth is a process that takes time. So many people want quick returns on their investments. The key to building wealth is to develop your long term strategy rather than focus on short term gains. Part of that strategy means holding on to your high performing investments for the long term.

While these are the five main principles that I learned about building wealth while listening to Michael Lee-Chin’s speech, there is so much more information that I could add. I’ll save that information for another article. The lessons from Michael Lee Chin will last a lifetime!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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