Fan Li was born into a poor family. However, he was intelligent and knowledgeable. As the state of Chu was in chaos due to tyrannical aristocrats, Fan Li was unable to put his talents and skills into good use. It was only after he left Chu that he was able to realise his potential.
He and his wife, Xishi, lived in a house near the sea, engaging in agriculture for a living. Under his brilliant management, they soon became a wealthy family in the neighbourhood. He helped the poor and needy generously.
Fan Li accumulated bounful wealth three times in 19 years. Therefore, he called himself 'Tao Zhu Gong", and became well-known for his wealth.