Mandela called me for investment advice: Harris - CNBC Africa

Mandela called me for investment advice: Harris


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Paul Harris, the co-founder of FirstRand. PHOTO: Getty Images

“The one memory that I’ll always cherish is getting a phone call from him one day. He asked me to give him some advice about investments and I remember saying that there are two portfolios that you’ve got. One is a ‘get rich’ portfolio and the other one is a ‘stay rich’ portfolio. The get rich portfolio is where you take some risks, you expect to make some good investment returns but you could lose it. The stay rich is that – you stay rich,” Harris told CNBC Africa.  

“I said ‘Madiba, you must tell me how much you would like in the first portfolio and how much in the second portfolio’ and I remember, as quick as a flash, he said ‘I want everything in the ‘stay rich’. The fact that he just said that he’s not prepared to take those types of risks associated with the ‘get rich’ portfolio – I’ll remember that conversation. That’s the one personal memory that I’ll take away.”  

Harris, a senior business leader at the time of Mandela's presidency, revealed his fondest memory of him following news that the former South African president had passed away.

“For me, what he did was redefine what leadership is all about. It’s based on a deep respect for the uniqueness of an individual, and of every individual. He was able to connect to everybody and he set an example to everybody. That is what made the largest impression post his release from prison,” he said.

“It’s profound. It’s not unexpected and it’s a time to reflect and to celebrate on the greatest life of the 20th century, in my mind.”