Success lessons from the richest man in Spain

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ARTICLE #43 – 17 JUNE, 2018



With whom Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are competing against for the world’s richest person title might be a surprise to some of you. As they call him, “he is the richest man you have never heard of.” – the high street clothes retailer, who 40 years ago founded the now world-famous Zara.


According to both Forbes and Bloomberg, his net worth is somewhere between $25 billion to $30 higher than the next wealthiest European.

Unlike many of Europe’s richest people, he was not born into money. His father earned 300 pesetas per month. That’s a very modest salary even for post-war Spain, where the economy took a long time to recover from the 1930s civil war. To put that in context, a dozen eggs in Spain would have cost Ortega’s father about a tenth of his monthly income.

His humble beginnings as a delivery boy for a local clothing store when he was 14 turned his local business into one of the largest fashion empires on the planet. His fairly poor upbringing had made him the most modest person.

What makes the Spanish multibillionaire, Amancio Ortega so interesting is not only the fact that he briefly topped up Bill Gates as the richest man in the world, but that his amazing rags-to-riches story can teach some of us a few life lessons, and give entrepreneurs tips to build successful businesses.


Here are 5 success lessons from Amancio Ortega  – arguably the most humble multibillionaire on this planet:


  1. Build a strong and respectful brand around your name

Zara has built a very strong brand and this on its own is the greatest marketing tool. Zara uses its name and product range always updated. To be on top of the latest fashions and keep using its name and brand as a marketing vehicle, they change their product line every fortnight. This makes customers keep coming back to check the new collection. According to a research, a Zara customer visits its stores 17 times a year as opposed 3 or 4 times with other brands.


  1. It’s never too late to be successful

In recent years we were made believe that if you can ever get successful it has to be at an early age, just like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. But Ortega was almost 40 years old when he founded Zara. So, if you are in your 40s or 50s and you still want to achieve your goals and dreams, you can still become like Ortega. Good things come to those who wait… and never give up.


  1. Introverted people can thrive as entrepreneurs

Not many people know of Amancio Ortega. He shies away from media and barely gives any interviews. In fact, until a few years ago there were barely any pictures of him in the media.

He once said: “You must appear three times in the newspapers: when you are born when you get married, and when you die.” He puts as much effort into growing his business as he puts effort to avoid the press. If you still think that being an extrovert is the only way to success, Ortega is a living example that the exact opposite is true.


  1. Be humble and modest

 By keeping a low profile, Ortega allows Inditex ‘s other senior executives take centre stage. Being successful doesn’t mean stop being modest and humble. Ortega visits the same coffee shop every day, has lunch with his employees, and, despite being the man behind ZARA, dresses modestly in the same blue blazer, white shirt, and gray pants.


  1. Do it your way

 According to people who know Ortega well, he has never had his own office, desk or computer, but instead chose to conduct business with colleagues standing in a design room. Whilst most companies organise and discuss everything over email, Ortega prefers oral communication to written. He delegates paperwork and instead has more time to listen to his people. He is known for listening more than talking and keeping his business personal and close to home. 55% of Zara’ manufacturing takes place in Spain, Portugal and Morocco, unlike the majority of big high street chains who outsource their production to Asia.



Find out how the Spanish economy is strengthening in our artcile:  Why is the Middle East investing heavily in Spain?

or what, according to us, are the four reasons to invest in off-plan properties in Marbella.


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