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If you like Carlos Slim's story, you might also like:
Steve Case,
Ray Dalio,
Michael Dell,
Michael Eisner,
Lawrence Ellison,
Bill Gates,
Henry Kravis,
Craig McCaw,
Ted Turner,
Stephen Schwarzman and
Dennis Washington

Related Links:
Carlos Slim's Web Site
Fundación Carso
Grupo Carso

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Carlos Slim
Carlos Slim
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Carlos Slim Interview (page: 8 / 9)

Financier and Philanthropist

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  Carlos Slim

You've also created a program where fathers and sons from all over Latin America come together for a weekend. Will you talk a little bit about that?

Carlos Slim: We began making it in Mexico, these meetings. We've already had six or seven years of doing that.

They invite many important businessmen from Latin America with their children, with their family, and there are -- we are like 200 that get together, and we have -- it is clear that you live socially also, but we make presentations about different issues and global companies, family companies, social problems, et cetera. It has been very successful. We are very happy with that, and I think one of the main reasons to say that is that we've had seven meetings. In this new meeting, it will be in Central America. The first was in Mexico. We organized that, and we invite there, the second in Dominican Republic, then Brazil, Buenos Aires, Santiago, and Panama. We have some propositions now in Panama. We have talked a lot about that work already in some of these areas. We are thinking to make a confederation of foundations, of Latin American foundations, to get together for some programs, some projects, to have information what one do and the other, to try to work more together, the foundations. That is one interesting point. And I think we will create maybe also a fund, between the businessmen in Latin America, for Central America, to invest in infrastructure, physical infrastructure.

It seems one of the themes of your work is helping the younger generation to understand their responsibility in the world.

Carlos Slim: We learn from each other, but it's interesting, because in some areas, the old men, the fathers talk, and the others, the "children" talk -- they are 30, 35, 40. Many are in charge of the business, and we learn off each other. It doesn't matter, the generation. It's clear, the energy of the young people, also of the old people, and we compromise, and they are very clear about the social responsibility of the business community.

What's the most important thing you've learned from your children?

Carlos Slim Interview Photo
Carlos Slim: Oh, it's difficult to answer. The most important? I think the love between them and between the family.

And you see that with them and their children?

Carlos Slim: Sure. Yes.

It must make your heart fill up.

Carlos Slim: Yes, very happy.

Many people are so spoiled by professional success that they lose who they are. You've always been who you are. You're the same as you were 30, 40 years ago. What do you give credit for that?

Carlos Slim: Education, I think. By example. The example of my parents, and of my children also. My father died when I was 13, and our house was very different than the house I have now. I never knew that my father was so successful when he was 20, 25, 30 years old.

You have an inner being that gives you strength about who you are, from your history, tradition.

Carlos Slim: You need to be very strong inside yourself, very convinced about that. When you need others to say good things about you, you will have a problem, because that has no end. If you need others to say, "Oh, that's great!" there is no limit.

You started as a teacher. That suggests you not only value education, but that you enjoy mentoring, teaching. Was it different to mentor your own children?

Carlos Slim: No, I think it's not a difference.

I think when I was 19 or 20 years old, I had the opportunity to be a professor in the national university. In the school where I was studying when I was in third to fourth grade (year), and it was a very important experience. I enjoyed it a lot. The class was algebra. It's nothing that you can make more than academic. Because I believe in academics and in formation, formation of the students and the people. I think for the education of your children, it's very important, the experience you can have. You can remember what you felt, how you thought when you were a child about things while you are talking with them. I believe that it's very important, a good relationship with them, especially if they're going to follow what you are doing. In my case, my children like the entrepreneurial activity and the business activity, because from when they were a child, they weren't incompatible with my family and my life. No? And I'm very impressed that they manage very well this personal life, family life, and the business activity.

You set a good example.

Carlos Slim: I think they are a good example. I believe that sometimes, more than educating our children, we do something like domestication, "Don't do that. Go there. Put that there. Take that out," like we're training them, without any common sense or rationality, without formation.

So in mentoring your children, you tried to help create a good thought process, so they could understand, analyze, come to conclusions.

Carlos Slim: Sure.

I think it's important to leave your children a better country, but it's maybe more important to leave your country better children, first of all. And second, you're looking for the happiness of your children. I think that work is not only social responsibility, but it is an emotional need. You need to work. You need to do things. You need to be active. You cannot be lazy. Without doing anything, it is bad for your emotional health. No? I tried to educate (my children) and that was the lesson from my father also, about responsibility and compromise, because wealth is a responsibility and compromise. When you die, you don't take anything. You are a kind of temporary manager of wealth.

[ Key to Success ] Integrity

Of all the business endeavors that you have been involved with, do you have a favorite?

Carlos Slim: I don't think so. If I have a favorite it's the challenge in the moment.

My challenge for the next seven years -- first, three years, and then seven, the first step for three years and the second step seven, a challenge is to create the human and physical capital in our countries, in Latin America. That's now my challenge. That is what I am more involved and interested in. Health, nutrition, health education and jobs and physical infrastructure. That means airports, ports, roads, highways, power plants, energy, telecommunications, et cetera, and housing, and that's what I am trying to do within the last years. I left my boards outside Mexico and in Mexico, and I'm concentrating in this challenge, to look how our countries have more human capital and physical capital, trying to help that and to support that, by looking at it through the foundations that I create and through the investment. I believe that poverty is not fought with donation of charity. You cannot fight poverty with debt relief donations and social programs. You fight poverty only with a good education and jobs. Jobs is the way to fight poverty, and in the past, the problem of poverty was an ethical problem, a moral problem, a problem of social justice. Today, in this new civilization, to fight poverty is an economic need. If you don't fight poverty, the country doesn't develop. In the past, you have slaves. You fight for earth, for soil, and people work for nothing. Now you don't need the physical labor. You need mental knowledge, labor that knows training, skilled labor, and that's why you need the education and the human capital. That's what I'm convinced of, and that's what I'm working for. That's what now I am most interested in.

[ Key to Success ] Vision

You went from creating businesses that can function on their own, and now you have a larger purpose in the world. Was there a moment when you saw that change in direction?

Carlos Slim: No. It's a process. Always, always. It's very clear for a long time. The foundation has 20-something years. Fundación Carso is a very old foundation, and that is the way we formally begin to do that. Now, what is clear maybe a little bit more, I believe that the skills, the training of the entrepreneur are very good to solve social and economic problems. Not because you have economic resources, or material resources, but because you know how to manage these resources. You understand how to solve problems. In business, you constantly have problems and problems and problems, and you have a great training for that. When you look at some of the things that are happening in our countries, in all countries, but currently in our countries, you say, "Well, that can be done this way and this way and this way," and if you have the human resources, material resources, a team and the skills and the experience, I think it's a very important and great thing to do.

Entrepreneurs are always looking for innovative ways to do something better, so the entrepreneur's approach to social problems is trying to create better solutions for public problems.

Carlos Slim Interview Photo
Carlos Slim: That is exactly what I think, but also, it's clear that government is not enough. There are not enough resources. The PPPs, public/private partnerships that involve private investment are getting more popular, as in England not many years ago. All the governments, including the most radical, believe in private investment in some way. You need the combination of private investment and public investment, because public investment is not enough to solve the problems, and the innovation that people with business experience can bring is very important to solve these kinds of problems.

There's another point that I think is very clear. Governments, as much as they can have labor, they can't provide more than ten percent of the labor. The economic activity is like 40 percent of the population. The government will solve only a small part of the employment, and private investment, big business are not solving the problem. You need to develop small business, take down the business mortality, like we kept down the child mortality. You need to take down the business mortality, and promote small and medium business. There are a lot of jobs there. Promote health and promote entertainment and promote education, and you will have a lot of employment there. Finance them, because the problem is overregulation and financing, and we're beginning to create some concepts of financing a small business. Let's say in Telmex, we're going to finance our customers, just because they pay regularly. We are going to finance them for two years or three years, without so many papers and information and documents, more expedito, more easier, more quicker, and carefully.

You know what we're doing now that's very interesting, reconvercion, changing urban areas. Like some old factories, we make them into shopping centers and cultural areas. There is a big area that used to be a garbage area, and now there will be public sport places, universities, hospital, shopping center and a big development there. No?

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This page last revised on Apr 06, 2012 14:46 EDT
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