From 2010 through 2013, Carlos Slim Helú held the title as the wealthiest man on Earth. Briefly overtaking Bill Gates title was a big deal at the time. Slim has a storied career. He grew his wealth investing in wide variety of Mexican industries when no one else would: construction, soft drink companies, printing, real estate, bottling and among other things, mining.
The title of wealthiest person alive, as of writing this, is currently and unsurprisingly, Jeff Bezos.
Slim’s website, available in English (y en español), is a bit dated but has some real nuggets. He once penned a letter to students (of university) regarding a variety of topics. From privilege, overcoming strife, risks, responsibility and success. It’s easy to dismiss words from monumentally entrepreneurs, but Slim is a expressively thankful, sagacious and dense like iron. It’s a beautiful read.
The entirety of his letter, for posterity:
Carlos Slim, in a letter to the university community, gives advise to the most outstanding students on what, in his opinión, are the most important things in life.
Mexico City, June 1994
I write to you this letter in order to share some of my life experiences, hoping it will contribute to your education, your way of thinking and living, your emotional well-being, your sense of responsibility to yourselves and to others, your maturity, and above all, to your happiness, which should be the result of your daily existence.
You are privileged within society due to your talents and efforts, and for the best reason, your own worth.
Success is not about doing things well or even very well, or being acknowledged by others. It is not an external opinion, but rather an internal status. It is the harmony between the soul and your emotions, which requires love, family, friendship, authenticity and integrity.
To be as exceptional as you are is a privilege, but it also entails many risks that can have an impact on values that are much more important than professional, economic, social or political “success”. Emotional strength and stability are in the interior life, and in avoiding emotions that erode the soul such as envy, jealousy, arrogance, lust, selfishness, vengeance, greed and laziness, which are a poison that is ingested little by little.
When you give, do not expect to receive. “Fragrance clings to the hand that gives the rose,” says a Chinese proverb. Do not allow negative feelings and emotions to control your mind. Emotional harm does not come from others; it is conceived and developed within ourselves.
Do not mix up your values or betray your principles. Life’s road is very long, but it is traveled fast. Live the present intensely and fully, do not let the past be a burden, and let the future be an incentive. Each person forges his or her own destiny and it may influence reality. Do not ignore it.
Live with positive feelings and emotions such as love, friendship, loyalty, courage, joy, good humor, enthusiasm, peace, serenity, patience, trust, tolerance, prudence and responsibility. Do not allow their opposites to invade your soul, may they pass quickly from your mind, do not allow them to stay there, banish them. You will make mistakes many times, it is normal and human; but try to make them small, then accept, correct and forget them. Do not be obsessed by them; heaven and hell are within us. What is most valuable in life does not cost anything but is very precious: love, friendship, nature and what man has been able to achieve with it; the forms, colors, sounds, smells that we perceive with our senses can only be appreciated when we are emotionally awake.
Live without fear and guilt; fear is the worst feeling men can have, it weakens them, inhibits action and depresses them. Guilt is a tremendous burden in our lives, the way we think and act. Guilt and fear make the present difficult and obstruct the future. To fight them, let us have good sense and accept ourselves as we are, with our realities, our merits and our sorrows.
Staying occupied displaces preoccupation and problems, and when we face our problems, they disappear. Thus, they make us stronger every day. We should learn from failure, and successes should be silent incentives. Act always as your conscience dictates, because it never lies. Fear and guilt will then be minimal. Do not block yourself in, do not ruin your life, live it with intelligence, with soul and senses aware and on the alert; get to know their manifestations and train yourselves to appreciate and enjoy life.
Work well done is not only a responsibility to yourselves and society; it is also an emotional need.
At the end we depart with nothing, we leave behind only our work, family and friends, and, perhaps, a positive influence which we have planted.
My very best wishes,
Carlos Slim Helú