World’s richest men have more than money in common

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If you look at the three richest people in the world, you will see that they have more in common than just big piles of money. Carlos Slim, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett who are 1, 2 and 3 on the Forbes list of the world’s richest people (in that order) all share a sense of modesty. They don’t all showcase their modesty in the same exact ways, but when each of them are asked about how they live it is always interesting to see listeners’ reaction to the lack of excess they all have.

Obviously, these three people can literally buy just about anything they want. However, both Carlos Slim and Warren Buffett live in homes that no one would mistake as the main home of a billionaire (let alone the richest billionaires in the world). Warren Buffett is known to live in his house in Nebraska that he has lived in for many years and although it is a good size for a middle class to upper-middle class family, it is certainly not what you would think of as the home of a billionaire. Carlos Slim, who is currently the richest person in the world lives in a smaller house now than he did growing up. It too is a good size home, but not nearly the mansion one would expect of someone who is worth $53.5 billion. 

Although Bill Gates does live in a bigger and more technologically advanced home, he is a technological genius so it is to be expected. Regardless, Gates is still quite modest and has shown that by committing the majority of his fortune to fighting disease in Africa through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (a charity which Warren Buffett committed most of his fortune to, as well).  Carlos Slim is also involved in charitable donations beyond the tax write-off limits, although likely not to the same level as Gates or Buffett.

It’s tough to understand why these people of extreme wealth are not driven or excited by material things. Perhaps material things lose their appeal when you realize that attaining them is no longer a challenge. It could also be that this modesty was one of the traits that allowed these people to achieve such success in the first place. Definitely not every billionaire is modest and in fact, many are quite the opposite. However, it is interesting and probably useful to think about why these people are so successful and how that modesty plays in to their success.