Fondly called “Tatang” or father, the 94-year-old Henry Sy Sr., from the Chinese city of Xiamen, made his fortune with a Philippine shopping center conglomerate that has put up some of the largest malls in the world.
How to be successful, according to Henry Sy
( - January 24, 2019 - 7:46pm

MANILA, Philippines — Self-made billionaire Henry Sy Sr.’s rise from being a penniless Chinese immigrant to becoming the richest man in the Philippines for eleven years in a row has inspired a lot of people.

Fondly called “Tatang” or father, Sy, who died last Saturday, made his fortune with a Philippine shopping center conglomerate. But it was a long journey for a man who came to the Philippines as a boy to work in his immigrant father's sari-sari store.

Here are some pieces of advice from Sy:

On staying focused on your goals

“I’ve always wanted to be a businessman. No other ambitions, I just wanted to be in business, even when I was a child in Fujian province, south China.”

On pushing boundaries

"Every time the country is in a crisis, I think and decide where is the best way to go. We have to always think of ways to overcome these limitations."

On measuring success

“How can I know for sure who is bigger in net worth when each person has his own strengths that not everyone fully appreciates? I don’t like to say this guy is the biggest in wealth, because some people have wealth which is hidden – isn’t that a fair point of view?”

On maintaining good business relationship

“I wouldn’t classify this as a secret to success, but one of my lifelong practices is to pay my obligations on time, especially my suppliers. Even in my early years as retailer, I didn’t delay my payments to suppliers, because I tell my kids that we have to be considerate to suppliers and think of their own hinyong or how they have to protect their sense of trustworthiness with others.”

On perseverance

“As a kid, I had the will to strive for excellence and to overcome the hard environment, but I never imagined attaining big success. Whatever I have achieved did not happen overnight; ever since my teen years I’ve devoted many, many years of my life to non-stop studying, diligent work and dreaming of a better future.”

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