Manoel de Oliveira, 101-year-old director, on best financial advice

advice from 101-year-old director Manoel de Oliveira
advice from 101-year-old director Manoel de Oliveira

If you met a 101-year-old man who was still working at the top of his field, you'd want to know how he manages his personal business, right?

Thought so. Portugal's Manoel de Oliveira, the oldest active director in the world, brought his new film "The Strange Case of Angelica" to the Cannes Film Festival this week. He also brought a century-spanning wisdom. WalletPop asked him to discuss the best financial advice he ever received. The remarkably spry de Oliveira answered, "You don't need advice. You need action. It's action that creates money."

De Oliveira said the best way to spark action is to be your own boss -- and a compassionate one. Besides being a virtual one-man gang in producing his films -- three of which have been nominated for Cannes' top prize -- he took time out from filmmaking to run the family farm and vineyard. He learned how to manage a budget and a workforce. "My experience in business gave me a lot of experience with workers and employees, and that created a lot of strong human relationships," he said.

The director said the Obama administration's stimulus plan was a good large-scale example of action creating money. He bemoaned Portugal's slow crawl back after the global economic plunge. His movie seemed optimistic, though. Sometime after World War II, a Jewish refugee is called in the middle of the night to photograph the dead body of a beautiful young Catholic newlywed. Her soul appears to become embedded in the photograph,and he falls in love with her in his own moping way. Of course he can't have her for real, but this is the movies.

De Oliveira said he doesn't fear death, only the pain that might come with it. It doesn't appear that any of the hurt will come from his business philosophy.

"I don't view myself as a boss," he said. "I view myself as a worker."

Originally published