L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt dies at age 94

PARIS – Liliane Bettencourt, the L’Oreal cosmetics heiress and the world’s richest woman, has died at her home in a chic Parisian suburb. She was 94.

Bettencourt’s daughter, Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, said in a written statement Thursday that her mother “left peacefully” overnight in Neuilly-sur-Seine.

Liliane Bettencourt was the only child of Eugene Schueller, who founded L’Oreal in the early 20th century. Forbes magazine estimated her fortune to be worth $39.5 billion this year.

L’Oreal Chairman and CEO Jean-Paul Agon expressed “great admiration” for Bettencourt. Agon said she “always looked” after the company and its employees and “she has personally contributed greatly to its success for many years.”

Born in 1922 in Paris, she married French politician Andre Bettencourt at the age of 27. Her husband notably served as a minister at the end of the 1960s and beginning of the 1970s. He died in 2007.

Liliane Bettencourt inherited the L’Oreal fortune upon the death of her father in 1957. When the company went public six years later, she continued to own a majority stake

 

As the world’s leading beauty company, L’Oreal generated sales amounting to 25.8 billion euros in 2016 and employs 89,300 people worldwide, according to the company.

Bettencourt’s name has been involved in a politico-financial scandal known in France as the “Bettencourt Affair”, which has wound its way through French courts and newspapers for years.

The case stemmed from a 2007 complaint filed by Bettencourt’s daughter accusing one of her mother’s closest friends, the photographer Francois-Marie Banier, of manipulating the elderly widow into giving him artwork and cash.

In 2015, a French court handed Banier a three-year prison sentence on charges of swindling millions of euros from Bettencourt by taking advantage of her weak mental state. The court acquitted a former ally of former President Nicolas Sarkozy in the case.

Sarkozy’s former campaign treasurer, Eric Woerth, was acquitted on charges of “abuse of weakness” and taking donations from Bettencourt during the 2007 presidential election campaign.

Sarkozy himself was cleared in 2013 of preliminary charges.

Bettencourt is survived by her daughter, Francoise, who was born in 1953.

Why You Shouldn’t Be An Entrepreneur

 

 

When a hopeful entrepreneur asks me advice on beginning a startup, my advice is always the same: Don’t do it. It’s awful.

That is not the full truth. The reality is that it’s difficult to start and run a business. It’s a tremendous investment that takes time, effort and capital. Your focus is always on the business. Fantastic highs give way to horrible lows. It causes drastic mood swings (that might seem irrational to others) and extreme financial stress that few really understand. If someone one is going to make it, they won’t listen to my suggestion and will move full-steam ahead.

If this is the path you go down, there are a few things you should expect.

 

Uneven Work/Life Balance

I’ve always struggled with the work/life balance ratios that people often refer to. I genuinely love the challenges that come with creating a business, so I guess you could say I’ve never worked a day in my life. How is that for balance? But in all seriousness, I am almost constantly thinking about work, whether I’m running, reading, with friends or out with my girlfriend. In the back of my head, I’m going over checklists, thinking up new strategies or applications of new technologies. This can make relationships difficult, as you’re always ducking out to take a phone call, canceling dates or are unable to totally focus on on someone. On the flip side, I’m free to make my own schedule, stepping out to take care of personal things or work remotely if I need to.

An Always Moving Finish Line

There are going to be times where it feels like everyone is trying to prevent you from getting to where you want to be. It is easy to get discouraged and swayed. Entrepreneurs must go into what I call “cut-throat mode.” You need to navigate politics, get buy-in and ultimately arrive at your goal. Chances are, until that goal is achieved, you won’t be happy. And even when that happens, a new goal will inevitably appear to embark upon. To compound matters, there may even be multiple goals at the same time. This can ultimately make it challenging to have fun or do social activities with non-entrepreneurs because there is always something more important, in your mind, to do. After all, time is money, and both can be the difference between success and failure.

To tackle this, try breaking your goals into manageable pieces so they are more actionable. Understanding everything that needs to happen and having a plan for how you will accomplish each step eases the burden.

Always Being ‘On’

As an entrepreneur, you always need to be thinking about how your business is perceived by the mainstream. Because of this, you always need to be “on.” You don’t have the luxury of disclosing issues or problems. In order to protect and propel your organization, your guard always needs to be up — prepared to spin negatives or take advantage of opportunities when they appear. For example, responding to questions like “How is the business going?” is incredibly complex. I always stay positive and keep in mind who is asking. You never know who you are going to meet or what they might know. Make sure you are representing yourself and your company well.

Inevitable Stressors

Most humans fail over and over, and this is generally a good thing as long as you learn from it. However, when running a business, there are a lot of dependencies, and ensuring the bottlenecks you are creating are solved can cause a lot of pressure and stress. For example, missing payroll is a very realistic possibility for most startups. Whatever the situation may be, you are the one who is generally responsible for fixing the problem, and chances are you will not always have the answer.

Is It Worth It?

Being an entrepreneur is one of the best and worst things I’ve decided to do. I’ve learned more than I could have imaged and have been faced with challenging situations I never thought I would have to go through, but I’ve also had a ton of fun. If I could choose a different career path, I wouldn’t. It’s not for everyone, but if you are the type of person who, after reading this, still wants to pursue creating your dream company, good for you. Just remember it will most likely be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but with perseverance, you might just pull it off.