Kirsan Ilyumzhinov tells about how he became a millionaire

In an interview with Itogi magazine, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov was asked the question: “How did you become a millionaire? How did you become a businessman after graduating MGIMO when you were on the direct path to become a diplomat?”

- After I was reinstated at the Univercity and graduated it, I began to ponder: what kind of work shall I choose? After all the trials associated with corridors of power, it became obvious to me: the old state system was rotten. I had no desire to work for it.


It was in 1989, and it was obvious that the future belonged to the new class emerging in the country. I was drawn into the world of business. In September 1989, the Soviet-Japanese firm LIKO-Raduga announced a competition for vacant post of manager. They looked for a person with higher education and knowledge of English and Japanese. It was my chance. There were 24 applicants; we passed exams in English and Russian; we had interviews and numerous tests for psychological compatibility, reaction and hidden opportunities. And I passed.

From that moment, my life has changed dramatically. My salary was $ 5,000 per month, plus a certain amount in roubles and on top of it a percentage of each transaction made. The company provided me with a two-room apartment and a car. The company was engaged in the sale of passenger cars, processing of agricultural products, organizing exhibitions and sales of paintings, restaurant business and other things. Meetings, regular flights, negotiations, competition.
But I was happy: everything that I had been studying for many years was in demand - chess logic and ability to memorize, discipline, the ability to sleep for 3-4 hours and willpower. I made millions in contracts and stopped being afraid of numbers with six or seven zeros. I quickly gained experience, and soon they doubled my salary.
However, after a while, I felt a bit crowded in LIKO-Raduga: the company did not go for too risky operations preferring guaranteed transactions. I felt I was capable of more. I already had personal savings and soon I became involved in banking and stock exchange operations. Intuition did not deceive me; I earned a lot of money. Of course, I was on the verge of ruin many times, but it’s only natural. I perceived it as an experience. Business is a very exciting game. And the higher the excitement, the greater are the business ideas, although there is simply not enough time to implement them.
A year after graduation, I bought a house in Los Angeles and Rolls-Royce. And then I got bored: you earn, make money and then what?  So, I went into politics. At the age of 27, I became the youngest member of the Supreme Soviet. Then I decided to try myself in the executive branch: the laws had to be implemented and not forgotten as it usually happened then. At the age of 31, I became president of Kalmykia. It was interesting! That's why businessmen go into politics."