Have you ever at one time or the other admired the fortune 500 CEOs? Have you ever wished to be one of the top corporate managers of the business world? Are you building a business so that you can write yourself huge paychecks monthly? Then you better have a rethink because the highest paid CEOs in the world are not entrepreneurs.

I recently stumbled upon an article on CNNMoney, where the highest paid CEOs of 2009 was published and I carefully went through the list. To my surprise, I discovered that majority on the list of the top twenty highest paid CEOs were not entrepreneurs or founders of the companies they were managing. You can have a quick look at the list of highest paid CEOs in the world.

The Highest Paid CEOs in the World

  • Larry Ellison: Oracle Corporation – $84.5 million
  • Ray Elliot: Boston Scientific – $33.4 million
  • Ray Irani: Occidental petroleum – $31.4 million
  • Mark Hurd: Hewlett Packard – $24.2 million
  • James Hackett: Anadarko petroleum – $23.5 million
  • AG Lafley: Procter & Gamble – $23.5 million
  • William Weldon: Johnson & Johnson – $22.8 million
  • Miles White: Abbott Laboratories –$21.9 million
  • Bob Iger: Walt Disney – $21.6 million
  • Samuel Palmisano: IBM – $21.2 MILLION
  • Robert J. Stevens: Lockheed Martin – $20.5 million

After running through the above list, I also saw the list below.

The Lowest Paid CEOs in the World

  • Steve Jobs: Apple Inc – $1
  • Eric Schmidt:Google – $245,322
  • Warren Buffett: Berkshire Hathaway – $519,490

Reading this article on CNNMoney made my mind flash back to a previous article I wrote that Aliko Dangote; the richest black man in the world is not the highest salary earner in Nigeria. In that article, I emphasized that despite being the richest black man in the world; some corporate executives and DGs of governmental agencies l know earn more salary per year than he does and the article on CNNMoney has re-emphasized that view.

Analyzing the list of the highest paid CEOs in the world, you will find out that more than 98% of those that made the list are not entrepreneurs. Larry Ellison tops the list of highest paid CEOs but I believe he deserved to be on that list because he built Oracle from scratch and is actively involved with the engineering process of the company’s product development.

I felt compelled to write this article because everyday, I come across entrepreneurs who are trying to raise capital for their business idea. Often, they come to me for advice and I offer to critique their business plan. Looking through their business plans, I usually observe that some of these entrepreneurs assign to themselves; ridiculous salaries.

When I advice they cut the salary in half or work for free, all I get is a strong resistance or excuse. Some go ahead to tell me that they deserved such salaries or they need to put food on the table. While I am not objecting to their view, I remind them that their business is still in its startup phase and may require them to work for free. Of all the entrepreneurs I have given such advice, only few heed it.

Now isn’t your business meant to pay you huge salary? It is but definitely not in its early stage. Secondly, entrepreneurs build business for a reward higher than that of a steady paycheck. Entrepreneurs are not driven by the desire to make money; they are driven by a desire to create outstanding value that will outlive them.

“The person who starts simply with the idea of getting rich won’t succeed; you must have a larger ambition.” – John D. Rockefeller

In retrospect, it will surprise you to know that Steve Jobs and Warren Buffett are among the lowest paid CEOs in the world. Steve Jobs is paid $1 per annum. This brings me to the question: why are the highest paid CEOs not on the list of the richest people in the world?

The answer is this;

“The highest paid CEOs are employees; not entrepreneurs.

Larry Ellison is among the highest paid CEOs and also on the list of richest people in the world because he’s an entrepreneur. Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs and other lowest paid CEOs are on the top list of the world’s richest people. Warren Buffett is not on the list of the highest paid CEOs; yet, he’s the richest investor in the world.

Bill Gates is not the highest paid CEO but he’s the richest man in the world. Mark Zuckerberg is not among the highest paid CEOs but he is the youngest billionaire in the world and Aliko Dangote is not the highest paid CEO in Nigeria, but he’s the richest black man in the world. Why this discrepancy?

The discrepancy lies not in their paycheck but in their motive for undertaking a task. Entrepreneurs are known to work for free, for many years without pay while the top corporate managers are in the game for the paycheck and security.

“You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job and not get paid for it.” – Oprah Winfrey

Another reason why the highest paid CEOs are not entrepreneurs is because entrepreneurs get their pay in a different form order than a salary. Entrepreneurs build businesses for the asset; not the money. Note the difference.

“I don’t make deals for the money. I’ve got enough much more than I’ll ever need. I do it to do it.” – Donald Trump

“Money was never a big motivation for me except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game.” – Donald Trump

Entrepreneurs are in business to acquire assets; not monthly paychecks. They are not the highest paid CEOs because their reward comes in the form of royalties, dividends, rental income, increase in asset base and business growth. Entrepreneurs are not the highest paid CEOs because they don’t think short term.

They think long term; they think about the future generation and they think about creating value that will outlive them. Entrepreneurs don’t strive to earn the highest paycheck; they strive to build an asset that will continue to add value and better the lives of humanity.

“The richest people in the world build networks; everyone else is trained to look for work.” – Rich Dad

As a final note, I want you to reflect on the lessons of this article and answer the following questions: Are you working for a paycheck or are you working for free to build an asset? Do you need the highest paying job or a long lasting business? Do you want to be among the highest paid CEOs or among the richest people in the world? Only you can answer these questions; I rest my case.

“The problem with having a job is that it gets in the way of getting rich.” – Rich Dad

Ajaero Tony Martins