It’s tempting to think of what you could do with a billion dollars, but a better question would be if your personality would change. There are a handful of billionaires whose riches haven’t changed their personalities, and their feet are firmly anchored to the ground while their humility is overwhelming.
When you think of magnanimous billionaires, Mr. Buffett is the one who comes to mind. This ukulele-strumming magnate is worth $46 billion, but gives away millions each year, has promised the bulk of his estate to charity, and is outspoken about the ineptitude of the U.S. government in handling money.Ingvar Kamprad
Despite being worth approximately $3 billion, the founder of every college student’s furniture store, IKEA, was fabled for his frugality. He was known to fly coach class, drive an old Volvo, and live humbly, despite his wealth. Not to mention, he furnishes his home with IKEA furniture.
The $1 billion CEO of Zappos has re-invested the bulk of his worth in tech-savvy upgrades for Vegas communities, instead of retiring comfortably at a very young age. His money is reportedly a means to an end for him–that end, of course, being innovation.
The founder of Aldi, a discount supermarket chain in Europe, is worth $25 billion, but lives notoriously frugally, a holdover from his humble beginnings as part of a working-class family.
Social justice pursuits in Russia are not popular endeavors, but Mr. Lebedev has used his $1.1 billion fortune not to buy yachts and luxury homes, but rather to help improve the lives of working-class Russians.
The celebrated Stanford professor made most of his $1.3 billion fortune in early Google stocks, but has refused to let his wealth change his attitude. The ostentatious nature of some very wealthy people very clearly leaves a bad taste in his mouth, and he drives a 2002 Honda Odyssey and lives in a (relatively) modest home.
The co-founder of Duty-Free Shoppers Group has made billions and given most of them away, leaving him with a current net worth of about $2 million. He prefers modest restaurants, dresses and lives like an average American, and reportedly does not put on airs. Perhaps his attitude comes from his Depression-era upbringing, or perhaps he simply enjoys the work he does and its profitability is simply a side effect.
After founding the wildly successful Zara, $57.5 billion earner Ortega lives in a modest apartment and dresses like your average businessman. He does own a private jet, but that appears to be more of an outlier than a common expense.
Tech giant Outpro Limited’s chairman is worth over $12 billion, but remains frugal, ensuring that no electricity or other essentials are wasted at the company’s headquarters. He often takes a rickshaw cab to work instead of driving a flashy car, and drives an older model American car when he is behind the wheel.
It’s unclear what Mr. Cook’s net worth is, but he made $378 million in 2011 alone, and lives rather humbly.The CEO of Apple has been outspoken in his distaste for the extravagant ways of fellow super-earners. He lives in a modest condominium and swears by his work ethic, not his paycheck, as motivation for his success.
- Howard G. Buffett Wants to End Hunger, One Chance at a Time (science.time.com)
- Why Are Some Billionaires Still Greedy for More? (huffingtonpost.com)
- Buffett Says Dimon Had to Bare Throat in Submission (bloomberg.com)