Brunello Cucinelli Operating Manual - Billionaire Philosopher-King


Table of Contents



This is part of my operating manual series opening up the playbook of private equity and company building luminaries. Check out past ones with Mark Leonard, Andrew Wilkinson, Robert F. Smith, ESW, Felix Dennis and John Malone.

If you are interested in buying, growing, and selling small companies, check out my course & community on it at

Brunello Cucinelli may be the coolest man alive.

Founder of a $3.6 billion fashion brand.

Transformed his tiny Italian hometown into a classical Disney World.

He is equal parts:

  • businessman
  • philosopher
  • designer
  • monk

Here are his radical principles for business & life:

Limited Working Hours

Work stops at 5:30 pm.

Nobody can be online or receive e-mails after that or at all on weekends.

“The human being should work a fair amount of hours, that is 8 hours a day & after that it is necessary to devote time to your spirit, your soul & your body."

Give Back

His company gives 20% of its profits to charity.

Much to rebuild Solomeo, the town where he grew up & the company is based. Most of the employees live there.

He restored most of the town like the church, winery, mills, schools, theater, art, & more.

It's stunning

Pay Well

Brunello doesn't believe in only charity after profits.

He builds charity into the business.

Employees and suppliers are paid 20+% more than the average on the market.

Everyone at the company enjoys a daily 1.5-hour locally-sourced lunch.

Be Rigorous With Yourself

Fitness: "You have to keep fit, whether you’re rich or not."

Diet: "You cannot pay someone to be on a diet for you. I think that diet is the biggest sacrifice in my life."

Soul: "Only something you can do through culture and philosophy."

2-Hour Daily Work Outs

At 68 years old he works out for 2 hours every day:

Starting with an hour of swimming every morning in his pool

Then 20 minutes of the Five Tibetan Rites, an ancient form of yoga

At the end of the day, he plays tennis, soccer, or runs to get to 2 hours.

Eat Well

Breakfast: a very Italian meal of milk, coffee, & toasted bread with jam.

Lunch: at 1 pm the whole company takes a 1.5-hour break. He eats pasta every lunch. Normally spaghetti with olive oil or tomato sauce.

Dinner: a light small meal. Often some ham or mozzarella.

The Dignity of Work

If he needs someone he leaves his office & goes to them to show his respect for their time & work.

He travels every year to the mountains of Mongolia to purchase cashmere directly from the producers.

Read Everything

Books are his great passion.

He'll read for 2 hours at night.

When his older daughter got married, he gave her his 1,000 favorite books.

He has prepared the same gift for his younger daughter & granddaughter as well.

Everyday Beauty

"Beauty is the symbol of the morally good."

- Kant

He asks employees to drink out of glasses instead of bottles when they sit at their desks.

He turned a ruined castle into the company headquarters and old mills into light-filled factories.

Humanistic Enterprise

"Man needs dignity more than bread."

Brunello grew up poor. He had one pair of pants that his mom would iron every night.

His father was a poorly treated cement factory worker.

Brunello set out to build a company to give dignity to work.

Important Morning Work

All important creative work and decisions are done in the morning.

The afternoons are for routine work.

Brunello pushes big decisions to the next day.

Technology at a Distance

Phones aren't allowed in meetings. He wants people to know their numbers without looking at screens.

"I was always scared of being dragged away. So I try to be a bit obnoxious because I am scared of it."

Built to Last

He likes using cashmere because it theoretically never goes to waste. People don't throw it away and it can last for generations.

His buildings are designed to last for centuries.

He built a grand monument “to human dignity” designed to last 1,000 years.

Study the Greats

"The true way to nurture your soul is philosophy."

His headquarters are built with tributes to novelists and Greek philosophers.

He has marble busts of Socrates, Seneca, Aristotle, Marcus Aurelius, and now Obama in his office.

If you are interested in buying, growing, and selling small companies, check out my course & community on it at




















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