The Billionaires’ Wisdom

By Julie Neitzel

Forbes annually compiles a list of the wealthiest individuals in the world. The 2016 list profiled 1,810 global billionaires, nearly 30 percent of which are located in the U.S. An impressive 45 of the individuals are based in Florida. The group’s aggregate net worth is a massive $6.48 trillion, with the average billionaire net worth approximating $3.6 billion. While there is tremendous financial wealth within this group, the wisdom gained from their experiences can be priceless learning opportunities. This column shares insights from this accomplished group.

  • Steve Jobs (deceased) was publicly ousted from Apple, which enabled him to enter one of the most creative periods in his life, resulting in the creation of Pixar (the world’s first computer-animated film studio) and NeXT, which was acquired by Apple and allowed him to return to the company and launch its renaissance. “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice…have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”
  • Michael Bloomberg (New York) was fired from a finance job and decided to pursue information technology without having any IT background. He also ran for New York City mayor without any political background or experience. “You don’t need to be an expert in something to try it.”
  • Jorge Pérez (Florida) is the CEO of Related Group, which has transformed South Florida real estate along with many other markets. “My life has been a series of risks, most of which have panned out, but some of them haven’t. You get up, you learn from it, you get stronger, you get smarter.”
  • Wayne Huizenga (Florida) was involved in founding three Fortune 1,000 companies, was responsible for six NYSE companies and has owned three professional sports franchises. “You can’t be all things to all people. You find something that you are passionate about and you work on that.”
  • Michael Jordan (Florida) is a former basketball player who led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships and won MVP five times. “Always turn a negative situation into a positive situation. I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”
  • Kenneth Feld (Florida) assumed the CEO role in 1984 of the firm that owns Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and other entertainment businesses. “Respect does not come from a title. It comes from what you do, and how you do it, and how you work with people.”
  • Sam Walton (deceased) was the founder of Walmart and Sam’s Club, one of the world’s largest corporations. “High expectations are the key to everything. Capital isn’t scarce; vision is.”
  • Shari Arison (Israel) is the daughter of the founder of Carnival Cruise Lines. “In everything I do, whether in business, philanthropy or my personal life, I am guided by my inner trust, my values.”
  • Jack Ma (China) grew up poor, failed his college entrance exams twice and was rejected from dozens of jobs before finding success with this third internet company, Alibaba. “We are born to enjoy life, not to spend it working. The focus should be on enjoyment, not only of your work, but by creating time to play, relax and enjoy those around you.”
  • Jeff Bezos (Washington), founder of, made a risky decision to leave a lucrative finance career to enter the nascent work of e-commerce in 1994. “In the end, we are our choices. Build yourself a great story.”

As we have explored, these lessons can benefit everyone, regardless of economic status. Being present and focusing on what’s important in your life. Learning to be bold and take calculated risks. Embracing failure and learning from it. Encouraging the pursuit of dreams, utilizing imagination and following one’s creativity. Working hard, being flexible and being motivated by achievement. These life teachings will enrich our lives – and possibly our bank accounts!

Julie Neitzel is a partner and advisor with WE Family Offices in Miami and a board member of the Miami Finance Forum. Contact her at or 305.825.2225.

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