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Can you be rich like Li Ka-Shing if you want to?

Is it possible to adopt his suggestions as a student, fresh-grad or ordinary folks like us?

Chua Wei Yi

Chua Wei Yi

15 Dec 2020

Level 8·Seedly Student Ambassador 2020 at Seedly

The short answer is YES.

But only if you are disciplined enough


  1. Being thrifty

  2. Have good work ethic

  3. Be able to learn independently

  4. Have loyalty and good reputation

A few years ago while I was looking at how billionaires become billionaires, I thought to myself " To learn how to do it, I need to learn from the right people." By right people, it meant that I should not be reading about billionaires who were born with a silver spoon.

But rather, I should be reading about how self-made billionaires made their way up to success. That was when I came accross this amazing man who was Hong Kong's richest man at that point of time, Li Ka Shing.

His story was incredible, he left school at the age of 15 and had to start work in a plastics factory where he worked 16 hours a day. 2 years later, he was already the factory manager. Anticipating that the plastics industry will be booming, he opened his first factory in 1950, at the age of 22, and the rest was history. Today, he is the world's leading port investor, developer, and operator of the largest health and beauty retailer in Asia and Europe. Here we analyse some of the values he has to succeed.

Being thrifty

Source: Pinterest

Well, a picture speaks a thousand words, what else can I say. Ok, I actually have to explain my point. While they looked uncomfortable, squeezed in between people, if you didn't recognise their faces, you you probably think that they are just 2 blokes having a good time at a basketball game. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are just like Li Ka Shing, they are thrifty.

In 2014, Li Ka Shing made this speech, giving straight up financial advice as a self-made billionaire.

Source: e27.co

Suppose your monthly income is only RMB 2,000, you can live well. I can help you put money into five sets of funds. The first $600, second $400, third $300, fourth $200, fifth $500.

Alright, hold it there, I'm gonna give you the figures in percentages you you can adjust according to how much you earn.

"First set of funds (30%) is used for living expenses. It’s a simple way of living but when you are young, the body will not have too many problems for a few years with this way of living."

"Second set of funds (20%) is used to make friends, expand your interpersonal circle. Phone bills, buy your friends 2 lunches a month, always remember to buy lunch for people who are more knowledgeable than you, richer than you or people who have helped you in your career. After one year, your circle of friends should have generated tremendous value for you. Your reputation, influence, added value will be clearly recognized. You’ll also enhance your image of being good and generous."

"Third set of funds (15%) is used to learn, pay attention to learning, attend a training course. When you have higher income or additional savings, try to participate in more advanced training. When you participate in good training, not only do you learn good knowledge, you also get to meet like-minded friends who are not easy to come by."

"Fourth set of funds (10%) Use it for holidays overseas, reward yourself by traveling at least once a year. Continue to grow from the experience of life. Stay in youth hostels to save cost. In a few years you would have travelled to many countries and have different experiences."

"Fifth set of funds (25%) is to save/invest. Save the money in your bank, invest some. When earn more and you can then begin to buy long-term investment plans and get long-term security on your financial wealth being of yourself and your families. So that no matter what happens, there will be adequate funds and the quality of life will not decline."

Well, if you ask me, anybody who can justify spending money for holiday overseas deserves to be listened to. Besides that, being generous will really put you in good books of others.

Good work ethic

Mr Li works 16 hours a day, 7 days a week at 16, while I remember vaguely playing badminton with my classmates after O levels. This was also where he learnt all the processes of plastic manufacturing which gave him the knowledge when he started his own plastics factory later in his life. You never know what you will be doing in future. Today you might be sitting behind the computer churning out excel sheets for your supervisor to see. Who knows, you might need to refer to your prior knowledge in a profit/loss statement when you are investing in future. That's why, always give your best in what you do!!

Be able to learn independently

When Li Ka Shing started Cheung Kong Industries, the plastic factory, he couldn't afford an accountant. But he completed Cheung Kong's accounting books in the company's first year himself with no accounting experience. Well how did he do it, he simply taught himself from textbooks. His ability to learn independently was what he attributes much of his success to. Indeeed, if you can learn independently, you could technically learn anything in the world.

You could start off by reading books of your interest/to develop a side hustle for with NLB's resources (https://blog.seedly.sg/nlb-mobile-app/), which not only includes e-books, but also lynda, which is an online learning resource where you can complete courses and get certified. There is also coursera which is free for universtiy students (https://www.coursera.org/for-university-and-college-students) and edx (https://www.edx.org/?hs-referral=b2c-navigation-logo)

The world is your oyster! Find your niche and develop it.

Have loyalty and good reputation

This is one of the most important points I believe because the world works on teamwork and teamwork works on whether you give people good vibes. Afterall, would you work with someone whom others have said is a "snake"

Li Ka Shing didn't take this lightly either. Li considers loyalty and reputation to be keys to success. In a 2006 interview with Forbes, he said, “Anytime I say ‘yes’ to someone, it is a contract.”

There was also a story that in In 1956, he once turned down an offer that would have given him an extra 30% profit on a sale (and allowed him to expand his factory) because he had already made a verbal agreement with another buyer. He still carries this principle of loyalty today, even when it means losing money.

Seriously, no matter how much money/marks in school you can get, if you had to sacrifice your reputation/values to attain it, it is not worth it for a reputation once damaged, will be hard to fix. And if you are not loyal, it will be hard for people to trust you again.

It has been quite an insightful article and I have enjoyed writing it. Next week I will be talking about a book that I have just completed and share with you the secrets of the "The Millionaire Next Door".

Bye Bye,

Wei Yi


Andy Chan

Andy Chan

28 Oct 2020

Level 10·Associate Software Engineer at GovTech

Great insight on the person! I only recognise his name on buildings.

Chua Wei Yi

Chua Wei Yi

28 Oct 2020

Level 8·Seedly Student Ambassador 2020 at Seedly

Thank you!

What are your thoughts?



Chua Wei Yi

Chua Wei Yi

15 Dec 2020

Level 8·Seedly Student Ambassador 2020 at Seedly