From his humble beginnings in China as a teacher’s son, a refugee, and later as a salesman, Li Ka- Shing provides a lesson in integrity and adaptability. Through hard work, and a reputation for remaining true to his internal moral compass, he was able to build a business empire.
He was 12 years old in 1940 when his family fled the Japanese invasion of China. Within three years of their arrival in Hong Kong, his father had died. Li was forced to leave school before the age of 15 to support the family and found a job in a plastics trading company where he labored 16 hours a day.
In 1949, after learning how to operate a plant, Li start his own company, Cheung Kong Industries, with funds borrowed from family, friends and contacts he cultivated as a top-tier salesman.
In 1958, unable to renew the lease for his company, Li was forced to purchase and develop a site by himself. This would be the first of many investments in real estate. Li was diligent in bidding for land and his strategy was to avoid debt by raising capital before building.
By the 1960s Cheung Kong had transformed into a property development and management company. The company, renamed Cheung Kong Holdings in 1971, had its initial public offering in 1972. By 1979 Li was Hong Kong’s largest private landlord.
Through hard work, and a reputation for remaining true to his internal moral compass, he was able to build a business empire. Most accounts described Li as personally unpretentious and frugal, leading a modest lifestyle that reflected his respect for traditional Chinese values.
When people ask him if he considered himself lucky, Li’s response was “No, I wasn’t lucky. I worked hard to achieve the goals I set for myself.”
Last, we would like to conclude his story with one of his inspirational quotes:
“Vision is perhaps our greatest strength… it has kept us alive to the power and continuity of thought through the centuries, it makes us peer into the future and lends shape to the unknown.”