Moving up during the course of his life from humble circumstances as a fatherless teenager to one of the world’s richest business leaders and most generous philanthropists, Li Ka-Shing for many in Asia represents a model of how to succeed in the world. Books about his approach to life and business — mostly in Chinese and all unauthorized — populate business sections of Chinese-language bookstores around the world, much like books about Warren Buffett do in the United States.
After I assembled a long list of quotations from Li from around a dozen of those texts to accompany my interview with him our new issue, I learned that many of the ones I picked bore a common problem with many other things from China: they were actually fake; Li hadn’t said them at all.
The Li Ka Shing Foundation, Li’s charity foundation, kindly helped me with the following eight:
*As a leader, one should spend more time than others planning for the future.
*I do not get overly optimistic when the market is good, nor overly pessimistic when the market is down.
*A good reputation for yourself and your company is an invaluable asset not reflected in the balance sheets.
*It doesn’t matter how strong or capable you are; if you don’t have a big heart, you will not succeed.
*To be a successful manager, attitude and ability are equally important ingredients. A leader inspires others to greatness. A boss dominates his subordinates and makes them feel small.
*Though a universal formula for success is difficult to come by, caution signs for failure are posted everywhere. Establishing a structure that serves to minimize failure will prove to be a shortcut to success.
*Successful managers should also have a keen eye for talent. They not only select people who are smarter than themselves, but also avoid picking corporate superstars whose reputation precedes them.
*The art of good management lies in the capacity to accept change, and the ability to meld new and traditional thinking.
–from the Li Ka Shing Foundation