Your first sit down for Big Shots with Giselle Fernandez was with Carlos Slim, the second richest man in the world. Not an easy get! Why was he on your personal list of most-wanted interviews?
I’ve met Carlos many times in Mexico City and here in the states. I know his family, and when I heard he was coming to L.A. I thought he’d be a great get. Any time you can show a glimpse of the real person—the man behind the title—it’s a provocative opportunity. People always ask me what he’s like. I thought it would be great to let everyone see how humble and down to earth he is despite his super wealth.
What was your first impression of Slim?
Well like I said, I’ve met him many times, whether in Mexico with his family or when introducing him for the first time to then Senator Barack Obama on the campaign trail in 2008, but I must say my first impression of him has not changed. In fact, it only solidifies with each new meeting. I’m always amazed he doesn’t speak better English. I’m also truly amazed at how comfortable he seems to be in his skin; no fancy frills, pomp or big ego displays. He comes off as a really gracious man with no apparent need to pound his chest and prove how smart or rich he is. If you didn’t know his “richest in the world” status, give or take a zero with Bill Gates, you’d think he was a regular guy.
Slim spoke with you about his investing style, the global economy, and his predictions for the future of digital technology. What business advice, if any, did you take away from the discussion?
I took a lot away from our discussion. First, information technology is changing constantly and changing our world with it, so we better stay on top of it in every way as investors and users. I was really taken by the phenomenal investment opportunities he sees for US/Mexico trade and more expansive engagement throughout Latin America. But mostly, I was struck by his emphasis on work ethic and focus on core business to achieve success.
Slim shared with you the letter that appears below. What is it exactly and what does it mean?
Carlos carries with him a speech he wrote years ago, one he refers to often when asked about what success and achievement really looks like. I was really moved by it because it reveals the values and virtues he deeply covets, which have nothing to do with amassing wealth. He speaks a lot about character, integrity, love of family, and work ethic as the true fortune of a man.
A Letter from Carlos Slim:
SUCCESS IS NOT ABOUT BEING RECOGNIZED BY OTHERS. IT IS NOT ABOUT AN EXTERNAL OPINION, IT IS ABOUT AN INTERNAL STATE OF BEING. IT IS THE HARMONY BETWEEN THE SOUL AND OUR EMOTIONS THAT ARE FED BY LOVE, FAMILY, FRIENDSHIP, AUTHENTICITY AND HONESTY. THE FUNDAMENTAL AND PERMANENT VALUES THAT ARE FAR SUPERIOR TO PROFESSIONAL, ECONOMIC, SOCIAL OR POLITICAL SUCCESS.
FORTITUDE AND EMOTIONAL BALANCE ARE A PART OF YOUR INNER SELF AND ARE ACHIEVED BY AVOIDING NEGATIVE FEELINGS SUCH AS ENVY, JEALOUSY, ARROGANCE, EGOISM, AND GREED, FEELINGS THAT ARE A POISON WHICH IS INGESTED BIT BY BIT. CHRONIC PESSIMISM LEADS US TO MEDIOCRITY.
WHEN YOU GIVE DO NOT EXPECT TO RECEIVE. “AROMA REMAINS IN THE HANDS THAT GIVE ROSES,” SAYS A CHINESE PROVERB. DO NOT ALLOW NEGATIVE FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS TO DOMINATE YOUR SPIRIT. EMOTIONAL DAMAGE DOES NOT COME FROM THIRD PARTIES; IT IS FORGED AND GIVEN LEEWAY WITHIN OURSELVES. REMEMBER GOD FORGIVES OUR SINS BUT OUR NERVOUS SYSTEM DOES NOT
DO NOT MISTAKE VALUES NOR BELITTLE PRINCIPLES; LIFE IS A VERY LONG ROAD, BUT IT IS TRAVELED VERY FAST. LIVE THE PRESENT FULLY AND INTENSELY; LET THE PAST NOT BE A BURDEN. MAY THE FUTURE BE AN INCENTIVE.
LIVE WITH YOUR INTELLIGENCE, YOUR SOUL, AND SENSES AWAKE AND ALERT; TO LOVE AND ENJOY LIFE.
WE HAVE THE FORTUNE OF LIVING IN A NEW CIVILIZATION, GENEROUS AND VIRTUOUS OF FREEDOM, DEMOCRACY, DIVERSITY, PLURALITY, KNOWLEDGE, HUMAN RIGHTS, TECHNOLOGY, INNOVATION, CREATIVITY, GLOBALIZATION, SOCIAL MOBILITY, AND ENVIRONMENTAL CARE, WHERE DEVELOPMENT IS SUSTAINED BY THE WELFARE OF ALL.
FIGHTING AGAINST POVERTY AND IGNORANCE IS NOT ONLY FOR ETHICAL SOCIAL AND MORAL REASONS, BUT ALSO BECAUSE OF ECONOMIC NEED.
WE ARE COMMITTED TO DEVELOPING HUMAN CAPITAL, TRUE HEALTH AND MODERN HIGH-QUALITY EDUCATION, CONNECTING TO GROW WITH BROADBAND AND PROMOTING THE ACTIVITIES WHERE THE NEW JOBS WILL BE CREATED: INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY, CONTENT AND APPLICATIONS DEVELOPMENT, ENTERTAINMENT, TOURISM, PHYSICAL CAPITAL, HOUSING, SERVICES. WE NEED EDUCATION AS MUCH AS JOBS, JOBS, AND MORE JOBS.
WORK WELL DONE IS NOT ONLY A RESPONSIBILITY; IT IS ALSO AN EMOTIONAL NECESSITY. ALL CRISES ARE OPPORTUNITIES TO GET STRONGER AND CHANGE FOR THE BETTER.
WITH YOUR EDUCATION, TALENT AND EFFORTS, IT IS YOUR TIME TO WORK FOR THE RIGHT CHANGES. IT IS YOUR TIME TO MAKE A BETTER WORLD.
AT THE END WE LEAVE WITHOUT ANYTHING. BUT WE SHOULD LEAVE BEHIND A BETTER WORLD TO OUR CHILDREN AND MOST IMPORTANTLY BETTER CHILDREN TO OUR WORLD.
LIVE WITH A SENSE OF URGENCY WHEN YOU ARE CREATING, INNOVATING, SOLVING, AND BUILDING.
ANYONE WHO CARVES HIS OWN FUTURE IS ABLE TO INFLUENCE REALITY. DO NOT IGNORE THAT REALITY.
LIVE WITH POSITIVE FEELINGS SUCH AS LOVE, FRIENDSHIP, LOYALTY, COURAGE, JOY, GOOD HUMOR, OPTIMISM, SELF ESTEEM, PEACE, SERENITY, PATIENCE, CONFIDENCE, TOLERANCE, RESPONSIBILITY, AND COMMITMENT. AS TO THOSE CONTRARY FEELINGS THAT ATTEMPT TO INVADE YOUR SOUL, DO NOT LET THEM INHIBIT YOUR SPIRIT; DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO SET ROOT. TAKE THEM AWAY.
MANY TIMES YOU WILL MAKE MISTAKES, IT IS HUMAN AND USUAL. BUT ALWAYS TRY TO MAKE SMALL ONES. ACCEPT THEM, CORRECT THEM, AND FORGET THEM. DO NOT OBSESS OVER THEM; REMEMBER HEAVEN AND HELL ARE WITHIN.
WHAT IS MOST WORTHWHILE IN LIFE DOES NOT HAVE A PRICE; LOVE, FRIENDSHIP, NATURE, FORMS, COLORS, SOUNDS, AND SMELLS THAT WE PERCEIVE WITH OUR SENSES, FEELINGS THAT ARE ONLY APPRECIATED WHEN WE ARE AWAKE AND OPEN TO ENJOYING LIFE.
TO BE BORN IS A MIRACLE, WE SHOULD LOVE LIFE ALWAYS, EVEN DURING THE WORST OF CIRCUMSTANCES. IT MAKES US STRONGER AND DEVELOPS A POSITIVE SENSE WITHIN US AND WITH OTHERS.
LIVE WITHOUT FEARS AND WITHOUT GUILT. FEAR IS THE WORST SENTIMENT OF HUMAN BEINGS. IT WEAKENS US, INHIBITS ACTION AND DEPRESSES US. GUILT IS A TREMENDOUS BURDEN THAT WEIGHS DOWN OUR THINKING, OUR ACTIONS AND OUR LIVES. FEAR AND GUILT MAKE THE PRESENT DIFFICULT AND OBSTRUCT THE FUTURE.
LET US ACCEPT OURSELVES AS WE ARE, WITH OUR REALITY, OUR MERITS, AND OUR GRIEF.
OCCUPATION DISPLACES PREOCCUPATION, AND PROBLEMS WHEN CONFRONTED DISAPPEAR. PROBLEMS SHOULD MAKE US STRONGER EACH TIME. FROM OUR FAILURES LEARN; OUR SUCCESS SHOULD BE SILENT STIMULI. ALWAYS ACT PURSUANT TO THE DICTATES OF YOUR CONSCIENCE; IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO FOOL IT.