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The Engines That Drive Millionaires- Part 6


Jealousy is a basic human instinct. It’s not uncommon for jealousy to get stirred up by seeing roaring success in others. This is true for 90% of people of ordinary financial status. Jealousy starts rearing its head and expressing itself from early childhood when another child comes into the family. It has been seen that initially the older child shows traits of envy towards the younger, suffering from insecurity of parental love getting divided. This envy takes on another form in school and college, directing itself towards other students who are more successful. In the professional field, envy and jealousy takes on a more diplomatic form.

People who are not so successful financially express their jealousy towards others who are. Their attitude towards the rich becomes extremely negative. “Rich people become richer while the poor get poorer”, “the rich make their money from the blood of the poor”, “rich people are dishonest”. These thoughts fill their minds constantly. These are popular myths, and are not necessarily close to the truth.

In fact, if it was true that all rich men are dishonest, no one would have gone ahead and done business with them. To expand a business in a really big way, one needs to work with various associated companies, and thousands, and sometimes millions of customers. If one is dishonest, one would lose everyone’s trust, putting abrupt brakes on the growing business. Thus, contrary to popular belief, the rich and the successful have to be more honest than anyone else, because that is the very basis of their career.

Billionaires have golden hearts. The following is an eye- opener that shows beyond doubt that the theory of dishonest rich people is a myth.

Wipro chairman Azim Premji is the only Indian (ranked 11th) in the Financial Times’ list of the top 25 US$ billionaires who are doing their utmost to shape the world. He is also described as “the billionaire with a heart”. Premji was just finishing his undergraduate engineering studies at Stanford University in 1966 at the age of 21 when he got word of his father’s sudden death and was called upon to handle the family’s vegetable oil business. Premji started Wipro with a simple vision – to build an organization on a foundation of values. Under his leadership, the fledgling hydrogenated cooking fat company has grown to a US$ 1.76 billion IT Services organization serving customers across the globe. Wipro is today ranked among the top 100 technology companies globally (by Business Week). In the past two years, Wipro has also become the largest BPO services provider based in India. Wipro’s growth continues to be driven by its core values.

Premji’s net worth is estimated at US$6.7 billion, so some people call him the Indian Bill Gates. But if the anti- offshoring protestors wanted to find a bogeyman in him, they would have to look elsewhere. Premji is modest and reticent, not a belligerent business leader. This down-to- earth billionaire, whose achievement has not changed him as a person, is said to personally know and talk to every employee of Wipro.

“The comparison to Gates doesn’t end at software: Premji’s charitable foundation works with that of Gates. Premji’s foundation does more work for education in poor rural areas, giving US$5 million a year, while Gates’ has made health a priority,” says the Financial Times. Premji firmly believes that ordinary people are capable of extraordinary things. He believes that the key to this is creating highly charged teams.

In the year 2001, Premji established the Azim Premji Foundation, a non-profit organization with a vision to contribute significantly to quality universal education in order to build a just, equitable and humane society. This means every child would receive quality education. The financial resources to this foundation have been personally contributed by Premji. The current activities of the Azim Premji Foundation engage 1.8 million children under various programs.

Coming back to the mainstream of our discussion, I recently met Faiyaz, an old school friend of mine, at a multiplex. I was quite amazed to see the extent of his positive transformation. I immediately expressed my pleasure at his success. In my mind’s eye, I saw him as the same ordinary guy who was at school with me, who would walk back home with me. Since it was raining, we decided to sit down for a while and take a nostalgic trip down memory lane. We sat down and got chatting, and I asked him what he had been doing. This is what he had to say:

“Till about a year and a half ago, I was just scraping a living. I lived in a small 850 sq. ft. rented house. My child was just a year old, my wife and I both worked full-time. I still had the same beliefs then as I do now. But some things have changed now.”

“I have become very successful in what I do. My wife no longer needs to work now, and we own a nice home in a much better neighbourhood. I dare not call myself rich, but I no longer have to worry about living from one pay check to another.”

“With this new success I have also feel experienced a feeling of negativity directed towards me and my wife. Friends that I once had now show hostility because my wife no longer works. Or they make comments about the nice car I now drive. What amazes me is that some of these people were in a better position than I just 2 years ago. They were quite friendly but now suddenly, they are resentful towards me because of my success. I was not born wealthy, as you know. In fact it was quite the opposite. I know what it is like to be evicted from the place you live. I had no helping hand, no godfather to lend support and to make my life better. I just worked hard and made my own way. I worked my way to success, but never expected this outcome. My old friends avoid me now, and I now have developed a new set of friends.”

His experience seemed painful, but this is the hard truth in life. But the difference between ordinary men and successful men is that the successful will hardly react enviously towards others who are successful.

The people who are rich and financially successful and have a positive attitude do not react with envy to someone else’s success. In fact, they appreciate success in others. The majority of financially ordinary men envy success in others and react with bitterness.

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