Friday, November 30, 2012

Zig Ziglar recently died on November 28, 2012 at age 86. He once said this: "You can have anything you want in life if you just help others get what they want."

Another inspiring quote by the late Zig Ziglar in the image below:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Happiness is not based on your circumstances, but on your attitude and how you react to circumstances. ---Wilson Lee Flores


Saturday, November 17, 2012

If you do not enjoy what you are doing, you will never be good at it. ---Luke Parker

If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day, go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.
                                       ---Chinese proverb

Monday, November 12, 2012

To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it --- Confucius

My Comments:

We should heed the wisdom of Asia's great philosopher and moral teacher Confucius.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tale of an enterprising South African Jewish billionaire entrepreneur

South Africa Billionaire Unmasked Selling U.S. Groceries

Four days after Hurricane Sandy slammed into New York City and the surrounding states, billionaire Nathan “Natie” Kirsh ambled through the aisles of a 75,000-square-foot Restaurant Depot warehouse he owns in College Point, Queens.

Dressed in a Gore-Tex jacket and loafers, the 80-year-old South African squeezed past dozens of independent restaurant owners picking through heaps of carrots, lobsters and hot dogs. A frenzied bottleneck formed as street vendors and restaurant chefs -- each handling several shopping carts full of goods -- vied for a spot in line to pay.
Enlarge image South African Billionaire Nathan Kirsh

South African Billionaire Nathan Kirsh

South African Billionaire Nathan Kirsh
Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
Billionaire Nathan Kirsh said, “I want money, I just don’t want that money lying around. We are certain that inflation isn't going away, so it's smart to be borrowing cheaply and putting it into real assets."
Billionaire Nathan Kirsh said, “I want money, I just don’t want that money lying around. We are certain that inflation isn't going away, so it's smart to be borrowing cheaply and putting it into real assets." Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
Enlarge image Tower 42 In London

Tower 42 In London

Tower 42 In London
Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
Billionaire Nathan Kirsh agreed in December 2011 to pay 282.5 million-pound for the landmark Tower 42, the first skyscraper constructed in the City of London, seen here right.
Billionaire Nathan Kirsh agreed in December 2011 to pay 282.5 million-pound for the landmark Tower 42, the first skyscraper constructed in the City of London, seen here right. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

“Chaos,” said Kirsh, who has a net worth of at least $5.1 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. “It’s fantastic -- and profitable.”

Through Brooklyn, New York-based Jetro Holdings, Kirsh controls 86 Restaurant Depots and 10 Jetro Cash & Carry stores, a chain that sells wholesale groceries to urban bodega owners. The closely held company generated at least $6.5 billion in revenue and $500 million in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization in the last 12 months, according to a person familiar with the company’s financial performance.

The retailer has a value of at least $5 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, based on the average enterprise value-to-Ebitda and price-to-earnings multiples of two publicly traded peers: Issaquah, Washington-based Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST) and Brampton, Ontario-based Loblaw Companies Ltd. (L)

One-Time Dividend

Jetro’s Ebitda margin is almost double that of Costco, the largest U.S. warehouse-club chain. Kirsh said Jetro generates bigger profits because the company doesn’t deliver or extend credit to customers. It also owns most of the land under its stores and sells more perishable goods.

“We are private, we are profitable and we have fun,” the billionaire, who has never appeared on an international wealth ranking, said in an interview at his office in North London in October. “We just don’t scream about what we do.”

Kirsh wants to expand his food wholesaling business to new markets and add to his real estate portfolio, which consists of properties on four continents worth hundreds of millions of dollars. He said the company is looking to build Jetro stores in Latin America and Asia, and wants to stock wine and spirits at its Restaurant Depots.

He raised $1 billion in a private debt placement in April as yields on U.S. corporate bonds fell, and used the proceeds to repay short-term debt and pay a one-time dividend to Jetro shareholders. Kirsh owns 63 percent of the company, and employees hold another 10 percent. Private equity firms CCMP Capital Advisors LLC and Leonard Green & Partners LP acquired 27 percent of Jetro in 2004.

Global Inflation

The billionaire is using some of the cash to buy property, which he said is a hedge against global inflation. He controls about 70 percent of the Jetro and Restaurant Depot warehouses, as well as residential and commercial real estate in the U.S., the U.K., South Africa and Australia.

“Our business in the U.S. is a big business that throws off cash and we strip that cash,” Kirsh said in London. “I just don’t want that money lying around. We are certain that inflation isn’t going away, so it’s smart to be borrowing cheaply and putting it into real assets.”

Kirsh’s empire extends beyond food and real estate. He owns 30 percent stakes in Crest JMT Leather, a U.K.-based tanner, and Holmes Place, an Amsterdam-based fitness chain. He also controls half of Mumbai-based pipe maker, KiTec Industries; 38 percent of Yehud, Israel-based Magal Security Systems Ltd. (MAGS), a security company he acquired from Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. in the late 1970s and listed on the Nasdaq in 1993; and 42 percent of Abacus Property Group (ABP) Ltd., the publicly traded Sydney-based real estate investment trust he helped to recapitalize in 2009.

Corn Milling

Kirsh made his first fortune in Africa. In 1958, he created a corn milling and malt business in Swaziland, a country 250 miles east of Johannesburg. Twelve years later, he acquired a South African wholesale food distribution business and began supplying stores owned by black shopkeepers, which were opening because of the government’s apartheid political structure.

The business grew to become the country’s dominant retailer and, by the mid-1980s, included furniture retailing, supermarkets, discount stores, an insurance operation and commercial property developments.
In 1983, South Africa-based insurance company Sanlam Ltd. (SLM) acquired 49 percent of his food distribution operation. Not long after, Kirsh learned that a top executive had gone on a building spree, entering into agreements to construct 22 shopping malls when Kirsh had only given him permission to build one. All of the malls were guaranteed by company assets. The commitment eventually cost Kirsh most of his fortune.

Entrepreneurial Icarus

Two years later, the South African economy began to stumble. Banks stopped lending to companies and countries began levying sanctions in a stance against apartheid. As interest rates soared, Kirsh approached Sanlam, which had minority rights on major financing decisions, about using a rights issue to pay down the mall loans.

Sanlam executives instead offered to inject the capital into the company, taking most of the assets in return. In the negotiations, Kirsh won control of Jetro, which then consisted of five stores on the east coast of the U.S.

“That was the end of an era,” he said about the episode in Adventures in Businessland, a corporate video he made in 2011 to mark his 51-year career. “Twenty-five years of work was blown away in one day.”
Under the headline “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” Kirsh was portrayed on the cover of Financial Mail magazine as an entrepreneurial Icarus, his face recoiling in dismay as he plummeted from the heavens.

“I got pulverized,” he told students at the London Business School in a 2011 lecture. “Therefore, one becomes a little bit more cautious to make sure you are not going to get pulverized a second time.”

Distribution Systems

Defeated, Kirsh moved to New York to run Jetro. He said he saw an opportunity to exploit weakness in the food distribution business in the U.S., which favored national grocery chains over smaller, independent stores.

“No one wants to run a huge truck out through Manhattan just to drop off four boxes, it just doesn’t make sense to them,” said Richard Kirschner, president of Jetro Holdings, in a telephone interview. “We were there to pick up the morsels.”

Jetro salesmen went from store to store talking up the benefits of shopping at their warehouse. The pitch: bodega owners no longer needed to buy more than they could sell, which would create more retail space in their stores. Without the burden of delivery costs and credit risks, Jetro was able to sell goods 20 percent cheaper than competing suppliers.

Restaurants, Bodegas

“When we arrived here, everybody just frowned on cash and carry as a meaningless form of distribution,” said Stanley Fleishman, Jetro Holdings CEO, who worked for Kirsh’s wholesale operation in South Africa and has been running the U.S. company since 1986. “The competition just blew us off as those guys selling second-tier product. That was the secret of our success.”

By the early 1990s, Jetro had grown to 10 outlets across the U.S. and was generating more than $400 million in revenue. Looking to modernize his management systems and fund expansion, Kirsh sold 80 percent of the business to Metro Holding AG, a Swiss supermarket business that was also a shareholder in Metro AG, one of Germany’s largest grocery conglomerates.

Jetro’s sales growth leveled off. Kirsh noticed that the restaurateurs shopping at his warehouses didn’t like jostling with bodega owners, who would shop less often and enter the checkout lines with ten-times the amount of goods.

Buffett Passes

He found a solution with Restaurant Depot, which he acquired in 1994, and turned into the company’s growth engine. Metro executives soon sold their interest back to Kirsh. Metro Holding has since been renamed Grospart AG, and is now a closely held investment company in Baar, Switzerland. A company spokesman said executives weren’t available for comment.

“I told them they were making a mistake,” Kirsh said. “The company was about to take off. I didn’t want them to come back in a few years telling me they were disappointed.”

Looking for capital to expand, Kirsh called on Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A) CEO Warren Buffett who, around 2003, passed on the opportunity to invest in Jetro. A year later, Kirsh sold a 27 percent stake to CCMP and Leonard Green. With the 2012 dividend, he said, the new partners have earned back more than their original investment. Buffett did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment. Both private equity firms declined to comment on the financial details of their investments in Jetro.

‘Stupid People’

Real estate, Kirsh said, is the only sector where “stupid people” can make money. In December 2011, he agreed to pay 282.5 million pounds ($455 million) for Tower 42 -- the first skyscraper constructed in the City of London -- and the five buildings that sit on its 2.2-acre plot. He paid cash, and later arranged a 20-year loan that covered about half of the acquisition cost. More U.K. property purchases are likely, according to Philip Lewis, Kirsh’s global head of real estate.

His other holdings include stakes in commercial properties in Western Australia, through a 50 percent stake in Jandakot, Australia-based Ascot Capital Ltd., and in San Diego, California, where he invested in a student and residential housing development near the campus of California State University San Marcos.

He has seen a 50 percent increase in the value of his stake in Abacus, the Australian REIT that controls two prime office properties in Sydney’s central business district, self storage locations and a shopping center in nearby Drummoyne.

Four Trusts

In October, Kirsh acquired a white-stucco fronted Georgian building next to London’s Madame Tussauds waxworks tourist attraction near Regents Park. The building will become the new headquarters for the Kirsh Group in June, bringing his disparate portfolio of assets and businesses under one roof for the first time.

The octogenarian said he has been thinking about succession, and plans to divide his assets into four trusts, leaving 75 percent of it to his family and the remainder to fund charities, including his favorite cause, helping entrepreneurs. None of his children work in the family business.

The operation, he said, will one day be managed by Ron Sandler, the former CEO of the Lloyd’s of London insurance market who was also appointed by the U.K. government as chairman of Northern Rock Plc, which was nationalized in 2008.

“We have properties all over the place, we are liquid and we do not have one unsuccessful business,” he said. “All of my businesses are profitable. I am in the best space I have ever been.”

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Philippine Star column on the successes of Manny V. Pangilinan of PLDT/Smart, John Lloyd Cruz of Philippine entertainment, Ramon Ang of San Miguel Corp. & Philippine Airlines, Bryan Tiu of Teriyaki Boy & Wafu Japanese Restaurant, the founders of Yellow Cab & Army Navy, Benny de Ocampo of Exclusively His Tailoring & Quattro Grill Restaurant

After the photos below, click the link to my Philippine Star column yesterday.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

One success secret!  

     "He who knows others is wise; He who know himself is enlightened."                                                                                             ~ ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu

(Below is a historic Lao Tzu sculpture in the outskirts of Quanzhou City in Fujian province, south China)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

'Suffering and deprivation is good for the soul.'

A timely and very down-to-earth message which does not "comfort" only the Singaporeans, but this could benefit all of us. It's not because she is the daughter of Lee Kuan Yew and not because she is a well-established medical doctor in neuroscience, but as a rightful citizen of Singapore who shares its obligation and responsibility.

There may be policy issues which we disagree with how Singapore is being "run" or "managed". The message delivered here however does reflect where we are now - sitting in the midst of this financial turmoil and where we are going!

Please do yourself a favor. Do read to the end. A nice and touching article to read. Plenty of foods for thought. This letter is beautifully "crafted" in English. It is a shining example of how English should be "written".

This message was forwarded to me via email yesterday by Chinese Commercial News Publisher Solomon Yuyitung, including the Prof. Lee Wei Ling essay. Thanks!

Philippine Star columnist William "Billy" M.  Esposo also shared this Prof. Lee essay in his column on March 8, 2009 with the following words:

What we can learn from Lee Kuan Yew's daughter

"Ever since my sister Dorothy was based in Singapore, following her appointment as the ASEAN Regional Head of Bayer Corporate Communications some five years ago, my wife and I found ourselves visiting her there occasionally.

"Every time I land in Singapore, I could not help but notice how much we have been left behind. At the time when Lee Kuan Yew, now Minister Mentor, was struggling to stabilize the new State of Singapore, the Philippine economy was ranked second only to Japan in Asia. Now, we cannot even claim to be second in ASEAN.

(Photograph of Singapore Skyline #12 by Christopher Chan, sourced from website

"Recently, the year-end message of the daughter of Lee Kuan Yew, Associate Professor Lee Wei Ling, caught my attention. It was Professor Lee’s 2007 message to her staff at the National Neuroscience Institute where she is a Director. Published in their newspaper and posted online by the Sunday Times of Singapore last January 4, the message was forwarded to me by my good friend, former Senator Jun Magsaysay.

"I found this message to be loaded with the values that former Prime Minister Lee  Kuan Yew has espoused — values that formed the core of the Singapore success story.

"The superb statecraft that made Singapore successful is a mere reflection of the values its leaders lived by. Associate Professor Lee’s message underscored the good values of austerity, frugality, concern for the poor, civic consciousness and social responsibility that transformed a city State like Singapore into a modern financial center of Asia.

"How come our leaders neither epitomize nor espouse those good values? How come our people, especially our youth, tend to pick up bad lessons from our leaders instead?

"Let me now share that values loaded message with you."

Article written by Lee Wei Ling

In 2007, in an end-of-year message to the staff of the National Neuroscience Institute, I wrote:
'Whilst boom time in the public sector is never as booming as in the private sector, let us not forget that boom time is eventually followed by slump time. Slump time in the public sector is always less painful compared to the private sector.'  

Slump time has arrived with a bang. 

While I worry about the poorer Singaporeans who will be hit hard, perhaps this recession has come at an opportune time for many of us. It will give us an incentive to reconsider our priorities in life.  

Decades of the good life have made us soft. The wealthy especially, but also the middle class in Singapore, have had it so good for so long, what they once considered luxuries, they now think of as necessities.
A mobile phone, for instance, is now a statement about who you are, not just a piece of equipment for communication. Hence many people buy the latest model though their existing mobile phones are still in perfect w orking order.  

A Mercedes-Benz is no longer adequate as a status symbol. For millionaires who wish to show the world they have taste, a Ferrari or a Porsche is deemed more appropriate. 

The same attitude influences the choice of attire and accessories. I still find it hard to believe that there are people carrying handbags that cost more than thrice the monthly income of a bus driver, and many more times that of the foreign worker labouring in the hot sun, risking his life to construct luxury condominiums he will never have a chance to live in.  

The media encourages and amplifies this ostentatious consumption. Perhaps it is good to encourage people to spend more because this will prevent the recession from getting worse. I am not an economist, but wasn't that the root cause of the current crisis - Americans spending more than they could afford to?  

I am not a particularly spiritual person. I don't believe in the supernatural and I don't think I have a soul that will survive my death. But as I view the crass materialism around me, I am reminded of what my mother once told me:  'Suffering and deprivation is good for the soul.'  

My family is not poor, but we have been brought up to be frugal.. My parents and I live in the same house that my paternal grandparents and their children moved into after World War II in 1945. It is a big house by today's standards, but it is simple - in fact, almost to the point of being shabby.  

Those who see it for the first time are astonished that Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew's home is so humble. But it is a comfortable house, a home we have got used to. Though it does look shabby compared to the new mansions on our street, we are not bothered by the comparison. 

(The British colonial era 5-bedrooms bungalow house of Lee Kuan Yew was built a century ago by a Jewish merchant)

(This photo of Lee Kuan Yew's living room in 38 Oaxley Road is courtesy of Zhaobao newspaper)

(Another photo of the Lee Kuan Yew house, from the blog of Jessica Zafra)

Most of the world and much of Singapore will lament the economic downturn. We have been told to tighten our belts. There will undoubtedly be suffering, which we must try our best to ameliorate. 

But I personally think the hard times will hold a timely lesson for many Singaporeans, especially those born after 1970 who have never lived through difficult times. 

No matter how poor you are in Singapore , the authorities and social groups do try to ensure you have shelter and food. Nobody starves in Singapore ..  

Many of those who are currently living in mansions and enjoying a luxurious lifestyle will probably still be able to do so, even if they might have to downgrade from wines costing $20,000 a bottle to $10,000 a bottle. They would hardly notice the difference. 

Being wealthy is not a sin. It cannot be in a capitalist market economy. Enjoying the fruits of one's own labour is one's prerogative and I have no right to chastise those who choose to live luxuriously.  

But if one is blinded by materialism, there would be no end to wanting and hankering. After the Ferrari, what next? An Aston Martin? After the Hermes Birkin handbag, what can one upgrade to?  

Neither an Aston Martin nor an Hermes Birkin can make us truly happy or contented.. They are like dust, a fog obscuring the true mean ing of life, and can be blown away in the twinkling of an eye. 

When the end approaches and we look back on our lives, will we regret the latest mobile phone or luxury car that we did not acquire? Or would we prefer to die at peace with ourselves, knowing that we have lived lives filled with love, friendship and goodwill, that we have helped some of our fellow voyagers along the way and that we have tried our best to leave this world a slightly better place than how we found it?  

We know which is the correct choice - and it is within our power to make that choice. 

 In this new year, burdened as it is with the problems of the year that has just ended, let us again try to choose wisely.  

To a considerable degree, our happiness is within our own control, and we should not follow the herd blindly. 

 The writer is director of Singapore's National Neuroscience Institute. And also Lee Kuan Yew's daughter...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

US$5 billion question: What is self-made man Ramon Ang of San Miguel Corp. (SMC) of the Philippines planning to buy now? My guesses: A brewery in Asean? An Asian airline? An airport?

My Comments:
This self-made businessman Ramon Ang is amazing: he comes out of nowhere as engineer to become trusted executive of Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco, Jr., he serves with total loyalty and remarkable success, he eventually rises to become the big boss of Southeast Asia's biggest and also oldest brewery and food conglomerate, he boldly diversifies San Miguel, and how he's on the way to becoming the possible No. 1 business leader in the Philippine economy with his most breathtaking corporate maneuvers! Whew!

My wild guess is it's possible San Miguel may buy the shareholdings of Japan's Kirin beer in the Singapore brewer of Tiger beer, since coincidentally Kirin beer is also a shareholder in San Miguel?

(Image of the September 2012 issue of Summit Media's Esquire Philippines magazine)

San Miguel Declines to Identify Acquisition Target

Oct 22, 2012 (Dow Jones Commodities News Select via Comtex) --
By Cris Larano
MANILA--San Miguel Corp. (SMC.PH) on Monday declined to name an acquisition target, citing confidentiality restrictions in the negotiations on the potential investment.

San Miguel President Ramon Ang told reporters Saturday that the Philippine conglomerate is planning a 5 billion acquisition that may be completed within the year, Bloomberg reported. He said San Miguel faces other regional companies in the bidding, but didn't name the target or the industry it is in, according to the report.

San Miguel "has been invited to participate and submit a bid for a possible line with the ongoing diversification programs and initiatives implemented by the company," San Miguel corporate secretary Virgilio Jacinto told the Philippine stock exchange on Monday.

"Owing to the confidentiality obligations imposed on the company, we are not in a position to disclose the salient features of the said investment opportunity," he said.

Over the past five years, San Miguel has moved away from food and beverage to heavy industries that provide higher returns for the conglomerate. It has acquired oil refiner Petron Corp. and bought minority stakes in power distributor Manila Electric Corp., toll road operator Citra Metro Manila Tollways Corp., Philippine Airlines Inc. as well as airports, power generation companies, and infrastructure development companies. In Malaysia, San Miguel last year took control of oil refiner Esso Malaysia Bhd.

Mr. Ang has said in previous interviews that the company was looking to acquire Asian firms with international operations as well as regional carriers to help Philippine Airlines launch more flights to the U.S. and Europe.

WOW! Billionaire Hedge Fund Tycoon John Paulson Donates US$100 Million for Central Park

Billionaire John Paulson and the Paulson Family Foundation are donating $100 million to the Central Park Conservancy, the largest parks donation ever.

Paulson, 56, is founder of Paulson & Co., a New York-based hedge fund that manages $21 billion across 10 funds. Paulson was worth $11.8 billion yesterday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. His contribution will help renovate and maintain park facilities and pay for recreation programs, said Doug Blonsky, president of the conservancy, which is responsible for its maintenance and operations. Half will bolster the park’s endowment, which now stands at $144 million, Blonsky said.

Billionaire Paulson Donates $100 Million for NYC’s Central Park

Billionaire Paulson Donates $100 Million for NYC’s Central Park
Rick Maiman/Bloomberg
John A. Paulson, president of Paulson & Co.

Oct. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Billionaire John Paulson and the Paulson Family Foundation are donating $100 million to the Central Park Conservancy, according to a news release today. (Source: Bloomberg)

Central Park
Keyur Khamar/Bloomberg
Residential buildings line Central Park in this aerial photo taken over New York.

“The Conservancy is responsible for transforming and sustaining Central Park as the celebration of culture, nature and democracy that it is today,” Paulson said in a statement. “It is my hope that today’s contribution will help it endure and flourish.”

The park’s 843 acres (341 hectares) stretch from 59th Street to 110th Street in Manhattan and make up a leafy oasis on an island of concrete. Conservancy crews care for 250 acres of lawns, 24,000 trees, 150 acres of lakes and streams and 130 acres of woodlands, according to its website.

“Central Park is a paradise unlike anywhere else in the world today,” said Paulson, whose Fifth Avenue apartment faces the park’s east side and overlooks its reservoir. “I wanted the amount to make a difference.”

Queens Product

Paulson was raised in the middle-class Beechhurst section of Bayside, in New York’s Queens borough. As a child, his parents took him through the park in a stroller, he said. He was valedictorian at New York University and attended Harvard Business School.

After working in risk arbitrage at Bear Stearns Cos., Odyssey Partners and Gruss Partners, Paulson founded Paulson & Co. in 1994, with $2 million from friends and family.

Paulson in 2009 donated $20 million to New York University Stern School of Business and the following year, along with his wife, Jenny, donated $5 million to Southampton Hospital in New York, which named an emergency department after them.

Paulson also donated $15 million to a children’s and maternity hospital in Guayaquil, Ecuador, according to a Nov. 21, 2010 statement.

The nonprofit Central Park Conservancy was founded in 1980, according to its website. Its mission was to restore America’s foremost urban public space to the condition envisioned by its 19th-century designers, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. In 1998, the Conservancy and the city of New York signed a management agreement formalizing their then 18-year public- private partnership.

“Central Park has an enormous economic impact on our city -- 40 million annual visitors generating $1 billion in economic activity -- and that’s in large part due to the great work of the Central Park Conservancy, the Parks Department and the New York City Police Department, who have worked together since 1980 to restore Central Park to its glory and take it to new heights,'' Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a prepared statement. The mayor is founder and majority of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

Monday, October 22, 2012

College drop-out Michael Farrell built world's largest mortgage real estate investment trust (REIT) named Annaly, an outstanding businessman and leader

My Comments on this businessman who personified success and outstanding leadership:

It is sad to read or hear praises about a good and/or successful person only after he or she dies. This is the case here of talented world-class businessman Michael A. J. Farrell, who just died at 61 years old because of cancer.

I have only read about Michael Farrell right now, after reading various obituary articles about him. He is still very young at age 61 and still at the prime of his accomplished life!

The life and business career of self-made man Michael Harrell is inspiring, and I want to share it.

(Undated picture below of Michael Farrel is from Annaly Capital Management, Inc.)

(Images below: Farrell Clan's ancient Coat of Arms in Ireland on the left and the New York-listed Annaly firm's corporate logo on the lower right side. The firm’s name "Annaly" refers to Farrell’s ancestors in Ireland who were the reigning clan of Longford and ruled from Annaly Castle, which is incorporated in the crest of the REIT’s logo. Michael Farrell is a modern self-made man with a keen sense of history.)

Michael A.J. Farrell, who built Annaly Capital Management Inc. into the world’s largest mortgage real estate investment trust, has died after being diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. He was 61.

His death was confirmed yesterday in a statement by the New York-based company, which didn’t provide additional details.

Farrell, who graduated high school at 16 with plans to become a commercial artist, instead turned to Wall Street, beginning at E.F. Hutton & Co. in 1971. After stints at Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch & Co., he started Annaly in 1997 and increased assets to about $128.3 billion at the end of June, turning the firm into one of the largest buyers of home loan debt backed by the U.S. He branched out with separate companies that buy non-agency bonds and commercial real estate securities.

“Mike will be missed not only for his stature in the business, but as one of the class guys in our industry,” said Shawn Matthews, chief executive officer of Cantor Fitzgerald & Co., the brokerage arm of Cantor Fitzgerald LP. “He hired me into this business and I have always considered him a mentor, great leader and true gentleman.”

Farrell, Annaly’s chairman and CEO, was receiving chemotherapy for cancer that “was caught early” and was considered treatable, according to a company statement in January. In May, the firm disclosed it was in remission, while this month, it said Wellington Denahan-Norris, Annaly’s co- founder, was appointed joint CEO to allow Farrell to focus on his “ongoing treatment.”

‘Fantastic Leader’

Annaly has returned more than 600 percent to shareholders since its initial public offering, outpacing the 94 percent gain for the Standard & Poor's 500 index. Shareholders almost doubled their money in the past five years as Farrell and Denahan- Norris, 48, navigated the financial crisis and then forecast how Federal Reserve efforts to boost housing and the economy would impact bond markets.

The two executives each earned $35 million in 2011, making them among the world’s highest-paid financial-services executives.

“He was a fantastic leader and friend and will be greatly missed,” Annaly said in the statement. “Our hearts go out to his family and all those who were fortunate enough to know him.”

(This photo by © Susan Farley/The New York Times/Redux)

Brooklyn Born

Farrell was born on April 10, 1951 in Brooklyn, New York. He graduated from high school at 16, according to an article published last year in Wake Forest MagazineHe and his wife, Mary Flynn, neither of whom completed college, committed $10 million to the school in “the largest cash commitment by a living individual in the university’s history.”

His son, Michael Edward Farrell, studied finance and economics at Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based Wake Forest University, graduating in 2010. Farrell is also survived by his wife and their children Caitlin, a 2008 graduate of College of the Holy Cross, and Taylor. In addition, he’s survived by Kelly, a daughter from his first marriage, and two grandchildren.

Farrell’s parents, Michael John and Vera, left Europe for the U.S. after World War II, during which the elder Farrell served as a member of the Irish Guards, nearly dying in the Operation Market Garden attack in September 1944. Once in Manhattan, he waterproofed skyscrapers, painted subway cars and worked as a janitor at an elementary school before dying in 1986 at age 66, according to the magazine.

Trading Bonds

Farrell told the publication he wanted to be a rock star after giving up on becoming an artist. Instead he ended up trading bonds, specializing in mortgages. In 1991, while head of fixed income at Wertheim Schroder & Co., where he also hired Cantor Fitzgerald’s Matthews, he met Denahan-Norris, with whom he founded Annaly six years later.

Farrell had concluded that REITs and mortgage bonds were a “perfect marriage between asset class and vehicle structure,” in part because they can be “buy-and-hold” investors, he said in a Bloomberg story in April. Unlike hedge funds or many mutual funds, REIT shareholders can’t withdraw money from the firms. Instead they buy and sell shares in the companies.

Farrell stood out for his colorful conference calls and shareholder letters that discussed broader themes through historical allusions and literature such as Christopher Marlowe’s “Doctor Faustus” and the 1970 book “Future Shock” by Alvin Toffler.

Bond Yields

While Annaly has benefited as the Fed held short-term interest rates near zero to bolster the economy, its shares have declined 6.1 percent through Oct. 19 since the central bank said in September it would purchase an additional $40 billion of mortgage securities a month.

That’s pushed down bond yields, narrowed spreads and reduced homeowner borrowing costs -- squeezing earnings and dividends for mortgage REITs. Annaly said Oct. 16 it may repurchase up to $1.5 billion of shares over a year.

The shares declined 0.5 percent today as of 9:42 a.m. in New York, compared with a 1 percent drop for a Bloomberg index of mortgage REITs.

The firm’s name refers to Farrell’s ancestors in Ireland who were the reigning clan of Longford and ruled from Annaly Castle, which is incorporated in the crest of the REIT’s logo, Wake Forest Magazine reported.

Below is a short bio-data of Michael Farrell:

Mr. Farrell is the Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Annaly and FIDAC. Prior to founding Annaly and FIDAC, Mr. Farrell was a Managing Director for Wertheim Schroder and Co., Inc. in the Fixed Income Department. He has previously served on the Executive Committee of the Public Securities Association Primary Dealers Division and as Chairman of the Primary Dealers Operations Committee and its Mortgage Backed Securities Division. Mr. Farrell serves on the Executive Board of the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (NAREIT), is Chairman of the Board of Visitors of the Wake Forest Schools of Business, member of the Board of Trustees of Wake Forest University, a director of the U.S. Dollar Floating Rate Fund and Chairman of the Maeve Foundation.