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The Billionaire Who Wasn't: How Chuck Feeney Secretly Made and Gave Away a Fortune Paperback – September 22, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is perhaps a bit heavy on details of how he made his money (Duty Free stores), and the various schemes to tax shelter his money, and the steps to remain anonymous. He believed that one should give money directly to causes that would make a difference, and monitor the progress to see that the money was being wisely used. He distrusted Government spending which often has graft and inefficiency, and political conditions.
In short, an inspiring book well worth reading, and acting on if your finances allow.
This is two books in one: the remarkable story of duty free retailing and its leading company, DFS, whose extraordinary growth and profits paralleled the rise of jet travel; and that of Feeney himself, a slightly shambolic businessman, linguist and traveller, who took the needs of the world on his shoulders and became a model philanthropist.
It is nicely written and pulls you in like a novel. As a business biography alone, O'Clery's book is valuable, showing that huge money can be made from very simple business models. DFS's success could be put down to `four men in a room' working out what they would bid for airport duty-free concessions, and winning them. Once established, profits came easily. Feeney insisted that luck played a big role in the company's fortunes, that they reaped the benefits of being the first trusted brand in a fast-growing new field. Yet the book is also peppered with Feeney's advice to other to always `think big' (in both business and philanthropy), and in his restless desire to build a great business even the other partners admitted that Feeney had been its driving force.Read more ›
Chuck Feeney's early education was at Catholic elementary and high schools in New Jersey and New York. After high school in 1948, Feeney enlisted in the Air Force and was stationed in Japan for four years. After discharge, he attended Cornell University's famous School of Hotel Administration. He financed his college education partly from the G. I. Bill and partly from selling sandwiches to students. After graduation he went off to explore Europe, briefly attending a French university. While there he started a shoestring business selling liquor to sailors on American warships. He and a Cornellian partner, Robert Miller, took orders and accepted payment, then arranged to have the liquor delivered, duty-free. They bout out an unsuccessful competitor, thereby obtaining the name: Duty Free Shoppers (DFS). By 1965 business was good, but there were problems with part of the business strategy. American law changed so the duty free allowance was reduced from five bottle per family member to one bottle per family, effectively ending the rationale for the liquor business. Also, the automobile business turned out to be more complicated and less profitable than predicted. Fortunately, the duty free retail stores opened in Hawaii and Hong Kong selling liquor and luxury goods to Japanese tourists was booming. By 1977, Feeney, Miller and their two other partners were wealthy.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a very good account of how a man who made money in his business used philanthropy, and then did not go public with it. He has since then, and the story is still inspiring.Published 19 months ago by Almeda Reads
This book was definitely a fascinating read. Chuck Feeney grew up in New Jersey. You will read multiple times in the book how he only flies economy. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Dottie Randazzo
I really enjoyed learning about how Chuck built his business. This gives a lot of specific examples the reader can draw on for conclusions and insight. Read morePublished 20 months ago by eric12c
Great read. I met Chuck a few times and the book is very accurate!Published 21 months ago by Quyen P.
A fantastic story that this author managed to make dry as toast. Instead of insights it is a compendium of dates, meetings, and money amounts. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Shani
Chuck Feeney is not a regular person. His unusual qualities make it easy for O'Clery to write a book we enjoy reading.Published 23 months ago by SMB.