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A Healthy 100-Year-Old Multi-Billionaire?
By: Mark E. Brown
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Matt Krantz and Jon Swartz had a great story yesterday in USA Today about IBM joining an exclusive club of companies who have lived to the ripe old age of 100. Only 486 publicly traded companies out of more than 5,000 are 100 years or older. And it gets even slimmer when you look at private firms — only 23 private companies with audited financials have made it to the century mark according to an analysis by Standard & Poor’s Capital IQ.

Krantz and Swartz point to out there are four main reasons and characteristics for their success and longevity:
  • The ability to move into new businesses without abandoning core tenets
  • Careful innovation
  • A strong sense of purpose
  • Fiscally conservative and disciplined
The area that impressed me was their financial discipline, especially when it comes to corporate debt. According to Thomson Reuters, IBM carries about 95 cents of long-term debt for every $1 invested in the business by investor, versus the $138 in debt to every dollar of shareholder money invested in the average company in the S&P 500. 

IBM is the fifth most valuable company at $197 billion. That compares to Microsoft at $200 billion and Google at $162 billion.

Ok, I think I get it. Be fiscally conservative, display a strong sense of purpose, use careful innovatio,n and stick close to your core beliefs. Sounds like good advice to take all of us into our old age.

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About the Author

Mark E. Brown is a personal branding expert, professional speaker, and business growth advisor. He has owned a number of award winning ad agencies and is the founder of Mark Brown Strategies, a communications and marketing agency. You can follow Mark on Twitter and on Linkedin.  

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