In 2019, Jamaican-Canadian entrepreneur Michael Lee-Chin was named among the list of 2153 billionaires worldwide. He was also one of the 13 blacks on the list. At the time, Forbes valued his net worth at $1.9 billion with the bulk of his wealth coming from the banking sector and other holdings.
The 70-year-old made money through investments in financial firms like the National Commercial Bank of Jamaica and AIC Limited. In 1987, he acquired the wealth management and mutual fund, AIC, when it managed less than $1 million in assets. And by 2002, the firm had over $10 billion in assets.
He has a stake in Columbus Communications, Sauce Cable Company, Eastern Caribbean Gas Pipeline, Radio Jamaica, the Reggae Beach Resort, Trident Hotel, Senvia Money Services, and Wallenford Coffee.
Becoming a billionaire is the ultimate of every successful entrepreneur or business person. Joining the billionaires club does not come easy. It takes years of hard work and dedication. So, how did Lee-Chin become a billionaire?
Here are four tips from Lee-Chin on how to be a billionaire
1. Finding a role model
According to Lee-Chin, to be successful, one must identify a role model and find out his or her secret to success. Lee-Chin first came to Canada in 1977 without any resources. He sent out over 100 applications which were all rejected.
He learned the hard way that to be successful in life, one needs to identify, listen to and learn from role models and then try to find common threads between them.
2. Be purpose-driven
Another successful business tip from Lee-Chin is to be purpose-driven. He explains purpose-driven to mean being part of a bigger cause, which leaves no room for complacency or excuses. According to him, he had a clear purpose when he took over National Commercial Bank, which is a bank for the underserved communities and building wealth for Jamaica. Forbes notes that the bank’s annual income increased from $6 million in 2002 to $106 million in 2015.
3. Unicorn status can be achieved anywhere
Unicorn status is when a company is valued at $1 billion. Lee-Chin immigrated from Jamaica to Canada and made his fortune, not in Silicon Valley.
4. Know when to shut up, listen and learn
Learning when to shut up, listen and learn is another attribute of Lee-Chin that has guided his entrepreneurial steps. According to him, being successful requires the ability to observe, create a hypothesis, stress test it, codify the conclusions and then internalize them. These, he notes, were how he got the secret to wealth creation.
Lee-Chin was born in Port Antonio, Jamaica, to Aston Lee and Hyacinth Gloria Chin, who are both biracial African and Chinese-Jamaicans. He later found his way to Canada in search of greener pastures.
While in Canada, he made over 100+ applications that were rejected as an immigrant in Canada in 1977 without resources. He initially worked as a bouncer and today he has a net worth of $1.7 billion.
He has a Bachelor of Arts and Science degree from Canada’s McMaster University where he studied civil engineering.