3 principles of success Ross Perot lived by

U.S. independent presidential candidate Ross Perot delivers his concession speech to the crowd gathered 03 November 1992 at his election night headquarters after Democrat Bill Clinton won the presidential election.
Paul J. Richards | AFP | Getty Images

Billionaire and two-time presidential candidate Ross Perot, who died on Tuesday at the age of 89, has been called everything from the epitome of the "entrepreneurial spirit and the American creed," by former President George W. Bush, to "frightening" and "short-tempered" by fellow politicians during his presidential runs in '90s.

On Tuesday, one political commentator referred to him as "a stick of dynamite in the pond of U.S. politics back in 1992," while The New York Times called him "brash," and a "wiry Texas gadfly." And a friend of Perot's simply referred to him as "a Boy Scout who knows how to street fight," according to the Dallas News.

But at least one thing is evident: As businessman Perot was successful.

Perot founded his first company, Electronic Data Systems, at age 32 in 1962 with just $1,000 in savings. He became a billionaire at 58 when General Motors bought a controlling interest in his company in 1984 for $2.4 billion. After Perot sold Electronic Data Systems, he established Perot Systems in 1998 and became an angel investor for NeXT, a computer company founded by Steve Jobs after he left Apple. Over the years, Perot grew his net worth to more than $4 billion, according to Forbes, making him the 167th richest person in the U.S. at the time of his death.

According to his 1996 memoir, "My Life & the Principles for Success," these are three tenants Perot lived by that helped him achieve success.

1. Don't make money your primary goal

The best way to make money, according to Perot, is to not make it your primary goal.

"I've seen great people primarily motivated to make money. Almost without exception, they failed. They missed the real essence of learning to do something well, of building something better than anyone else," Perot wrote in the book.

Focus on being the best, wrote Perot, and financial success will come as a byproduct.

"This has been certainly true in my case to a unique degree. Making money has never been one of my goals. If we had set out to create a vehicle to make money, I don't believe we would have been successful at all. Instead, we set out to build a great company made up of great people," he wrote.

Perot said it took him 15 years to build up to an income that "substantially exceeded our family's monthly needs," and noted that "unrealistic expectations can damage your effectiveness and potential."

1968: American businessman H. Ross Perot holding a business machine manufactured by his company, Electronic Data Systems, Dallas, Texas.
Shel Hershorn | Getty Images

2. Prioritize family over business

While Perot's professional life was fruitful, he learned early on not to let it take over his life. Despite his hectic schedule, Perot, who with his wife Margot had five children and 16 grandchildren, always tried to make it to his kids school activities and always tried to put his family first, he said.

"Business should be a major part of your life, but not your whole life: Do not let it take priority over your family," he wrote.

"Periodically, look at your calendar to determine how many nights each week you are at home with your children, giving them your full, undivided attention."

3. Take leadership cues from the Boy Scouts

Perot says all the leadership chops he needed to build his business and run for president, he learned while he was a Boy Scout.

The Boy Scouts of America (whose program is now called Scouts BSA since it began admitting girls earlier this year) has had its controversies. But in his memoir, Perot said the group taught values like honesty, trustworthiness, kindness, bravery and helpfulness.

Additionally, he said he followed the Boy Scout motto, always "be prepared!"

"Leaders must establish a high spirit of mutual trust among subordinates with their peers and superiors," he writes.

Practice these principles, wrote Perot, and your chances of becoming a success in business and in life will improve dramatically.

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Correction: This story has been revised to reflect that the Boy Scouts of America's program is now called Scouts BSA.

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