Brazilian businessman Carlos Wizard Martins is the author of “Awaken the Millionaire Within” — and that’s something he’s done a thousand times over. Martins is a billionaire, according to Forbes.
The son of a truck driver, Martins studied at Brigham Young University in Utah before returning to Brazil. He says he went into business for himself after he was laid off from a job. He began giving private English language classes to colleagues who’d asked him for help.
From those classes, he built a successful language school chain, Wizard, followed by others. (He legally changed his middle name in honor of how he started.) In 2013, Martins’ Grupo Multi company was sold to Pearson, which calls itself the world’s leading learning company, for about $720 million.
We asked Martins about the best way to accumulate savings, potentially on the way toward amassing a fortune. In the following interview, which has been edited for length, he shares his personal story, including his hopes, his reliance on faith and his plans for the next chapter in his successful career.
The Bankrate Daily
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A 3-step path to prosperity
Bankrate: Given the title of your book, is it your sense that anyone can be wealthy if they put their mind to it?
Martins: I believe anyone can become prosperous based on 3 conditions:
There must be a strong desire to seek prosperity. No one will become wealthy just by chance or luck.
But desire is not enough. The individual must be able to turn his/her desire into a business plan with the capacity to reach the market on a large scale.
Finally, it’s necessary to follow the rules, concepts and laws that will change an individual’s current financial status to a state of prosperity.
Anyone who follows these 3 concepts will succeed.
Bankrate: Is wealth the destination or is it financial freedom or stability?
Martins: These 3 aspects are intertwined. One must first seek wealth as the air that he/she breathes. After the individual reaches a certain level of financial freedom and comfort, the next step is to seek stability by perpetuating financial achievements and victories. I also found out that money can bring you comfort and convenience, but only people can bring you happiness.
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The most important lesson
Bankrate: So, what is the key to financial success?
Martins: If I had to summarize “Awaken the Millionaire Within” into a single statement I would say this: More important than learning how to make money is learning how to save, how to wisely manage your resources, and finally, how to make your wealth multiply.
Unfortunately, very few people learn this lesson and this is why we have so much poverty in America and in the world in general. I found out the individual will only truly prosper if he/she understands that part of his income does not belong to him. It belongs to the accumulation of his fortune. But if the individual never starts accumulating his fortune, that person will never have it.
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Don’t be discouraged by costly errors
Bankrate: Can you share a personal financial mistake?
Martins: At one point we decided to open a language school in Orlando, Florida. Our plan was to bring hundreds of students each year from South America interested in learning English in the United States. We purchased a beautiful facility, with enough classroom space to accommodate a thousand students.
The sad part of this undertaking is the fact that we ran this school for 3 years and never had more than 100 students. We never reached our break-even point. We failed to research this market.
Later on, we found out that even though thousands of students come to Florida each year, their main interest is vacation and leisure. Besides, when they seek a destination to study abroad they will seek a university program and not a private school. Of course, this mistake cost us a lot of money.
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Staying in the ‘tunnel’
Bankrate: Did you set out to become a billionaire? Or was it the very good fortune of your decision to teach your co-workers English?
Martins: I believe that every entrepreneur is a dreamer. But at the beginning of the journey, this person’s experience is similar to crossing a dark tunnel having only a flashlight to guide his path. With this flashlight he can see 1, 2 or 3 meters ahead. But as he walks that path he is able to see farther ahead until he can cross the entire tunnel. This means that when one begins his enterprise he cannot see the entire potential of the business.
Bankrate: We know there are all kinds of financial firms where “wealth preservation” is a key goal/objective. What are your thoughts about the best way to do that?
Martins: The biggest challenge of a successful enterprise is to continue being successful. In order to keep a leadership position in whatever sector, it’s necessary for the organization to be committed to customer satisfaction, innovation, keeping an eye on expansion and another eye on balancing the cost of the operation.
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Seeking ‘divine origin’
Bankrate: For individuals looking to improve their financial standing, and perhaps even from an international perspective, will hard work always pay off?
Martins: Hard work is essential, but hard work alone will not be enough to make an individual successful. In my book, one of the important elements I mention is seeking your divine origin. I found out through experience that people who lead a life of faith have more capacity of organization, concentration, focus, they relate better to people around them, they face life with a more optimistic outlook.
Their capacity of reasoning, planning and discernment surpasses our natural, mental or intellectual capacity. They have available to them a superior source of wisdom, enlightenment and inspiration.
Bankrate: What’s ahead for you?
Martins: This year I associated myself with (retired) Brazilian soccer player Ronaldo. We opened several soccer clinics in Brazil. We recently acquired a large parcel of land in Orlando, Florida, on Barack Obama Avenue. Our plan is to open the first Ronaldo Academy in the United States in the beginning of 2016. We will invite President Obama for this grand opening.