Today’s Emerging Breed of Leaders: Billionaires in Jeans!


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Hello to all my followers and blog subscribers!

In this post, we are going to examine why today’s business leaders and billionaires are becoming younger and unorthodox in their ways as shown in the type of clothes they wear in public such as t-shirts and jeans or denims!

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The traditional dress code for business leaders is the corporate attire and not t-shirts and denim pants! So, what’s wrong with our current age that the new breed of CEOs just wear ordinary clothes reserved for the young or teenagers?


Take note that with the advent of digital technology and the cyberspace, the locus of doing business has shifted from the ordinary physical space to the wired or electronic space of the Internet and the hyperreal! From the physical store to the online store! From face-to-face interaction to online interaction mediated by the computer or smart phone screen!

Those who lead and use the latest technologies and the emerging global trade based on intellectual property are now the emerging breed of business leaders—billionaires who wear t-shirts, jeans or denims. Yes! They literally wear denims and t-shirts because they are relatively young people who earn their money by creatively exploring the business opportunities offered by the current technological and intellectual property age!


Wearing shirts and denims instead of the typical coat and tie for business leaders also indicates a new image and social status for today’s new breed of entrepreneurs. Research studies showed that deliberate deviations from convention had a powerful effect on others. It implies that people who deliberately break the norms are saying that they cannot be ruled by the current social rules because they are creators of a new set of laws!

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The breaking of the traditional dress code for business leaders symbolically  conveys the message that the billionaires in jeans are not the traditional business heroes who just sit comfortably in their CEO offices and neatly dressed in their suits, but new type of leaders who can be present anywhere as long as they have the latest gadgets and technologies to create and manage their businesses. They are not afraid to get dirty to raise their next billion online! The jeans and t-shirts symbolize mobility and flexibility which is the spirit of global business characterized by fluidity and liquidity. The territory of their business is not primarily the temporal space of the physical store or office but the cyberspace where their online markets can be found.


Younger people are generally curious and creative compared to older persons which would make them the suitable drivers of today’s digital technology, online interaction, and social media. They are technology savvy who love to tinker with the computer, create new apps or networks in the social media,  full of energy to surf and explore the electronic world using their latest gadgets for long hours. Older people are generally less tech-savvy and lack impatient in exploring the complex language and network of the computer world and cyberspace. And yet the new opportunities that create massive and instant wealth are available in the cyberspace and digital technology. They are now in one’s fingertips, in the high-tech and high-speed laptop and smartphones.

Doing business nowadays is now predominantly online. All one has to do is to connect to the cyberspace and be creative in exploring and using the different apps, sites, platforms,  social media, software, etc., to create wealth!

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The new breed of  leaders do business in the cyberspace where corporate attire is unnecessary as long as they are comfortable with the clothes they wear while using their latest high-tech smartphones and gadgets for their online business, totally different from the traditional leaders who primarily do business in the physical world where physical looks and attire matter!


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Some Leaders are “Born”, Others are “Made”


Two Types of Leaders

There are basically two types of leaders: Those who are born and those who are made. Those who are born are persons who inherit their leadership from one or both parents, or spouses who are already leaders in specific fields. Those who are made are people who became leaders through achievement–self-made leaders who acquire their leadership through hard work, creativity, and achievement.

We can call the first type of leadership as leadership by ascription and the other as leadership by achievement. Ascribed leadership is more popular in rural communities or societies, while the achieved leadership is more prevalent in highly urbanized and complex society such as those found in the mega cities of United States, Europe, and Asia. Since success in capitalist societies is measured in terms of productivity, hard work, and increasing wealth, entrepreneurs and managers who dominate the market through innovation and strategy are often judged as great leaders in the corporate world. In today’s digital technology, success is measured in terms of followers in the social media and blogs, online sales, websites’ popularity in Alexa, etc. Great innovators and entrepreneurs who take advantage of the opportunities created by this technology are now billionaires and seen as emerging leaders in global business. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Jack Ma, Jeff Bezos, to name a few, became great leaders because of their creativity and determination to create their niche in the field of computer, technology, and online business. And there are more new and young leaders following their footsteps.


Achieved leadership More Preferred in Current Age

American society is a highly urbanized capitalist society and it provides more prestige to achieved than ascribed leadership, especially to those who are great innovators and inventors in the field of intellectual property, technology and entrepreneurship. Ascribed leadership is less praised in contemporary society as people would think that their leadership and wealth are acquired through their parents’ prestige and popularity. Of course, there are cases that the children of rich people can surpass the leadership of their parents and create their own niches. Take for example, Enrique Razon, one of the riches people in the Philippines. He inherited the container terminal services business of his parents. but he surpassed it, making it a multinational company from being a local business. He also ventured into resort and casino business. Others also built upon their inherited fortune to create companies that far exceed those of their parents or spouses  such as the Koch Brothers or L’Oreal’s Liliane Bettencourt. The Indian billionaire Azim Premji also exceeded the business leadership of his father. “In 1966, 21-year-old Azim Premji dropped out of Stanford in the wake of his father’s death to take the helm of his father’s company Western India Vegetable Products — later renamed Wipro. It was under Premji’s leadership that the company diversified into toiletries and bath products and, eventually, IT, and the company grew exponentially” [1].


The current global economy reserves its awe and respect to new breed of business leaders who have established niches for themselves in a spectacular and extraordinary manner. Those who created wealth without huge productive capital except their creativity, innovation, and technical knowledge of the current technologies. are hailed as new heroes of global business compared to those who inherited their wealth and position. We are currently living in the information society where the main source of wealth is not land or physical assets but knowledge. In today’s global economy. what is important is not the physical product or service itself but the idea, formula, or trade secret behind its creation.


New Breed of Leaders

The currency of the today’s trade is not gold but intellectual property that is based on creative knowledge, on copyright, patent, and trademark. The new leaders and heroes of the current global economy are creative people with technical knowledge of the latest technology and creativity in the realm of intellectual property (IP). And most of them are young people, “billionaires in jeans or denims” led, of course, by Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. Gaining such wealth and leadership in the social media at such a young age is unthinkable in the olden times before the advent of the digital technology. One can only be wealthy and recognized a business leader after long years of accumulation and hard work. But the current technological age can produce new leaders and billionaires in such a short period without much capital. The only main capital is creativity and innovation in the area of intellectual property and technology. According to, the 10 richest billionaires are under 35 years old. It is is interesting to note that many in the list became leaders and billionaires because of their leadership in technology and social media and not through inheritance from their parents:

  1. Mark Zuckerberg, 33 years old, worth $56 billion (Facebook)
  2. Lukas Walton, 31 years old, worth $11.3 billion  (Walmart)
  3. Dustin Moskovitz, 33 years old, worth $10.7 billion (Facebook)
  4.  Scott Duncan, 34 years old, worth $5.7 billion (Energy Pipeline)
  5. Bobby Murphy, 28 years old, worth $4 billion (Snapchat)
  6. Evan Spiegel, 27 years old, worth $4 billion (Snapchat)
  7. Nathan Blecharczyk, 34 years old, worth $3.8 billion (Airbnb)
  8. Caroline Hagen Kyos, 33 years old,  worth $2.5 billion (Canaca)
  9. Tatiana Casiragni, 33 years old, worth $2.4 billion (Columban brewery)
  10. Julio Mario Santo Domingo, 32 years old, $2.4 billion (Beer business)

In today’s world, leadership in business through achievement in technology and social media is more preferred and praised by people than leadership through ascription or inheritance. In the current technological age, we can become the business leader we want to be even if we don’t have much productive capital as long as we are creative, innovative, and persistent with our goals and dreams in doing business!

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All Great Leaders Begin with a Dream!

“Leaders are rarely accidental. Most of them aspire something to improve society according to their personal values and cultural orientation. “


All great leaders begin with a dream. They aspire to become authorities in some particular fields. They also think and believe that they can achieve their dreams. They are actually visionaries. They begin with an idea that they would someday become leaders according to the likings their hearts and end up industry leaders. Social scientists believe that we are what we think. Action is guided by thinking. We can only achieve what strongly think and dream. If we do not aspire to become  leaders, then we can never be one. Aspiring leaders think outside the box to explore new horizons to serve humanity.


Leaders are rarely accidental. Most of them aspire something to improve society according to their personal values and cultural orientation. It’s true that leaders are made, not born. No one is born a leader, unless he or she inherited it because of the social status of their parents. Thus, if one is born a member of a political clan or family, he or she can assume the political leadership of their parents as a form of what sociologists call as ascribed status or a form of social status acquired from birth. But most business leaders who are innovative and who opened new fields in today’s technological world are made through their own efforts and through the conducive social and business environments that provided them a “break” or opportunity to lead a group or industry. Steve Jobs, for example, could not become a leader in technology innovation if the digital technology did not flourish during his time. The latest technologies provided him with new tools and opportunities to actualize his dreams! Bill Gates would not also become the founder of the Microsoft and a leader of the software technology if technology did not shift from analog to digital and without the invention of the Internet and personal computers. Achieving leadership is not only a matter of personal effort. The social milieu must also be “friendly” or conducive to the dreamer or aspiring leader! And if the dreamer is really serious  in achieving something to improve society in some particular fields, then the content of his or her dream must be based on real life situations; otherwise, the dream is only a wishful or idle thinking without a serious effort on the part of the dreamer to actualize it. This is not the kind of dream that great leaders think! What they think is achieving breakthroughs of humankind’s current perennial problems that make life difficult for people. Great leaders in business, for instance, think and invent products and services that improve the current market or open up a new market altogether or niche.


Contemporary Leadership as Achieved Social Status

Most leadership that happen in contemporary society is achieved status, i.e, acquired by the person through personal achievement and effort. That is why in urban society, most leaders are guided by personal aspirations that one day they would become industry leaders. They just don’t sit around and wait for the opportunities to come. Instead they explore real human needs, study how they can address them, and work tirelessly to achieve them. They never give up when they encounter obstacles and frustrations along the way. Most great leaders in today’s business world did not achieve their leadership status by wishful thinking or leading a comfortable life. They live a very difficult life before they achieve their dream and become leaders of their chosen fields. Jack Ma, for instance, did not become the leader of the Alibaba Group in China and become one of the richest men of his country without undergoing humiliation of being rejected by Harvard Business School twelve times and experiencing some seemingly insurmountable obstacles in achieving his dream. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg had to drop from Harvard University to focus on their dreams. The road to success and leadership is painful but inwardly rewarding for aspirants in achieved leadership status.  Most of these business leaders did not acquire their leadership by ascription or comfort, but by extreme personal sacrifice and determination, seeing achievement of their dreams and glory beyond the horizon not seen by ordinary mortals.

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