‘No regrets’: Douglas alumni and billionaire

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Frank Giustra answers questions from keen student audience

By Dylan Hackett, News Editor

Last Tuesday evening the Douglas College Business Association hosted Frank Giustra, notable billionaire and Douglas College alumni, to trickle down his advice to a packed auditorium of aspiring business students, scholarship recipients, and special guest admirers. The event, billed as a Douglas Dialogue, a format that focuses on student engagement with the featured guest allowed for pre-selected questions addressing Giustra’s career path, philosophy, economic, and political reflections and predictions to be addressed in a thorough and sincere manner. Questions were fed through a familiar face for Giustra, Rod Midgley, a Douglas economics instructor.

Guistra explained to students, question-by-question, how he came from being a lower-middle income high school student with consistently failing grades to the renowned philanthropist and billionaire he is today. Although he was willing to share some college-age decisions as advice—such as his rigid saving of his supermarket wages and full-time work schedule, Giustra was also hesitant to consider his route to riches as a blueprint for success.

Giustra humbly told the room that he was “Not the guy to ask about how to become a billionaire,” an assurance that was in step with his repeated mantra of not taking career advice from old people.

“Don’t take the advice of old people… Lots of people would give me advice and I would just nod. I knew what I wanted,” advised Giustra. “If you don’t already have your vision of what you want to be, go out there and try things. Find something you absolutely love. Life is so short, you have no idea how short it is.”

Giustra began his time at Douglas in the late ‘70s studying music classes. This path of study did not earn him his billionaire status—the world’s only billionaire musician being Bono of U2.

“I did a full semester in music until I realized that I have zero talent. I did another semester in general courses and then I had this epiphany that I wanted to be a rich stockbroker. A finance diploma seemed like the appropriate course of action,” explained Giustra.

Giustra was adamant in explaining the nuances of being a billionaire, giving caution to the room’s business-hopefuls not to tie wealth to identity. He also explained the onset of diminishing returns into large-scale wealth gain. Coming from a lower-scale economic upbringing, Giustra made clear that money in the hands of working poor and low income folks is spent more than by those with millions and billions of dollars on a sliding scale. He almost humourously challenged the whole of the audience to try to spend a billion dollars.

“Going to your grave with a fat wallet is not a goal. It is absolutely a pointless exercise because it achieves nothing. You as a person will not be happy. My goal is to use my wealth in a way that makes things better for those I leave behind,” said Giustra.