Empire-building lessons from billionaire philanthropist and real estate developer Rick Caruso


Her father, Henry Caruso, founded Dollar Rent A Car in 1966, turning it into one of the largest car rental companies in the United States while teaching his family important finance lessons that held the cut.

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NEW YORK – Billionaire real estate developer Rick Caruso discovered entrepreneurship and money at a young age.

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His father, Henry Caruso, founded Dollar Rent A Car in 1966, making it one of the largest car rental companies in the United States while teaching his family important finance lessons that have endured.

“Even though we never grew up feeling poor, we always grew up with a great sense of the importance of money and hard work,” Caruso said.

His private company, Caruso Affiliated, has some of the most profitable retail centers in the world.

Caruso, 58, has also been an active civic leader and philanthropist in Los Angeles, where he grew up and is based. He is a former chairman of the Los Angeles Police Commissioners Council and served as a commissioner in the Department of Water and Electricity.

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The father of four recently spoke to Reuters about the life lessons he learned along the way.

Q: What shaped you in the beginning?

A: I grew up in a fairly traditional Italian home. My grandparents were immigrants, my grandfather was a gardener, and my father started his own business.

My parents were very careful with money. We have been taught to be careful about how you spend your money and where you invest it. And I was taught that education is the most important thing.

Q: What was your first job?

A: In high school, I had a job at a car rental company, where I washed and fueled cars and prepared them. The best way to learn more about money is to go out and earn it, especially when it includes manual labor and you realize the amount of work it took to get the money you made. It lays the foundation for your future.

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Q: What did you learn from starting your own business?

A: Sometimes the best entrepreneurs are innovators because they have to use their money wisely. When I started the business, we didn’t have a lot of money, so I had to be very creative in the way I designed things, built them, and marketed them.

I think if I had been given a ton of money it would have been a very different business than the one I have today. Money can be a great motivator, but it can also hurt motivation and creativity.

Q: As the business took off, what did you learn about wealth management?

A: It is important to never become complacent. Being complacent is a very dangerous thing when you have capital.

You have to have the ability to plan for the long term and realize that there is always a downturn. There is usually a 10-year cycle, but people have eight-year memories. They always forget that something will change on the road.

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Q: How involved is your family in charity, and what do you hope to instill in your four children to give back?

A: Charity is of the utmost importance, and I have instilled this in my children. They volunteer at Skid Row. It’s not just about giving money, it’s about working and being present. I have seen what it has done for my children: it has taught them gratitude and humility.

For families who grow up successfully, being a part of philanthropy is what motivates you. Everything I have done (in charity) revolves around youth.

We focused on education and also on health care, which was conducted by our daughter, who has hearing loss. She has had access to excellent medical care, but there are thousands of children in Los Angeles who do not have it.

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