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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
Profile of Carlos Slim Biography of Carlos Slim Interview with Carlos Slim Carlos Slim Photo Gallery

Carlos Slim Interview (page: 9 / 9)

Financier and Philanthropist

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  Carlos Slim

What about your restoration project in Mexico City?

Carlos Slim: Downtown. Centro Histórico. That was very important. The project was not to restore, but to revitalize. Revitalize means to have life again, more people working, living, studying there, and entertainment. That gives you life again to downtown.

Then it gives new jobs. People make more money. The economy goes up. They invest in education, their home, everything. Exponential.

Carlos Slim: That is a change that can be done very fast. Before that, there were years and years trying to revitalize, to restore downtown, and in three years, we make the change.

The private sector did it better than the government.

Carlos Slim: Yes. And if you make it in combination with the government, it is fabulous.

Isn't it hard sometimes to partner with the government?

Carlos Slim Interview Photo
Carlos Slim: No. You don't need to partner, but let's say something like México histórico. The government needed to put in security, they needed to train new police. We put in security cameras. We put a place where the cameras were controlled near the place to have immediate action. The city government changed the streets and the drainage and some of the public services, and the federal government brought the Office of Foreign Affairs back to downtown and there are a lot of people working there. That 's what we needed. The university also has a lot of buildings there. They have more activity in downtown. They took some offices there.

Has that model been attempted in other Mexican cities?

Carlos Slim: Other cities have done a good job in the restoration of these historical centers, and we have contact with them. São Paulo (Brazil) also wants to do the revitalization of its downtown. The concept that I have for this future challenge comes from that experience downtown, from Centro Histórico. That was a combination of the foundation to take up the economical and social level of the people living there, and investment. That's why I told you, you need foundations and investment to fight poverty. To give employment, you cannot give employment with the foundations. You need to give employment by investment, companies that invest in roads, in housing, in many areas. No?

How do you want to be remembered?

Carlos Slim: I try not to think about that. What I worry about is the future of my family, my sons, my grandchildren, that they get together, that they love each other, that they can be positive for themselves and for the society. That's my worry. I don't worry about being remembered in one way or the other. I will be remembered very well by my children and my friends.

You know, what I told you about the new civilization is really very important, because things can move and faster than what we're thinking. We can push them to be faster, and an ordinary evolution, and not with crashes and problems and social turmoil or problems.

We seem to have more than our share of turmoil in the world right now.

Carlos Slim: Yes, but this turmoil is bad management. I have an example of this.

When the civilization began, when the agriculture was discovered, it was because glaciation was finished and there were a lot of paradises. A lot of paradises with a lot of water, a lot of animals, fauna and flora in excess, and people that was nomads get sedentary there, and as they get sedentary they begin to think, but they don't worry that 50 -- from 50, 30 he has no job, or 40 he has no job. That was not unemployment. There were no troubles in the change. They begin go up very soon, to look for sun, to look for housing and look for clothes and to look for organizing other things, et cetera. But now that technology is creating so fast, so well, so much wealth, we don't know how to manage that, and we have unemployment and we have poverty worse, and it's a problem of management, of organizing the production of wealth that is like never before so efficient, so fast, so many goods, so many services, so low cost for do everything. But creating wealth you have the paradox of higher poverty. That's stupid.

Perhaps you need to develop a course on the management of wealth.

Carlos Slim: Management of wealth. That's also important but I think it is more important than that. It is more important. But the other point is that...

In the past, in the agricultural civilization, 200 years ago and more, all the power was in the hands of the monarchy, the pharaoh, the tlatuani, the emperador, no? And as much as it advanced, the power is in the society. Not only in the private sector that has more things to do, but all the society, the non-government organization is every time taking more, the academics, the newspapers, the media is taking more of the area. What should be done is more faster and organized. And the private sector is more efficient -- a businessman and an executive, a private executive -- than a public executive, and the politics by definition. All this shall be changed somehow. But like I said, turmoil is getting worse in many places because of the fear of change, the fundamentalism, the change of the paradigms. They are not clear. The paradigms are different. They put the globalization like the cause of the problems. Globalization is only one of the consequences of technology. Globalization is part of communication. You move from the speed of the horse and steam engine to the speed of light. Technology is what is making the difference. Unemployment doesn't come from globalization. It comes from technology. But technology creates a lot of wealth and a lot of productivity. What you need is to find how you motivate other people to be involved in the economy and in life and unemployment. I think we're doing it very good. Very good is China. China is getting into the new civilization in a way and the timing they like. Doing it very fast, but thinking very long-term.

They've also created a huge gap between rich and poor in China.

Carlos Slim: It doesn't matter about the poor and rich gap. There is a Chinese proverb that says "Bad governments worry about the rich. Good governments worry about the poor." What they're doing is to move from a rural and agricultural society to an industrial society and to a "new civilization" society, but they can't do it from day to night and night to day, day to night. They're doing it with long-term planning, very fast. It may take two generations, but they're doing the right thing. Before, everyone was poor.

When you think of your legacy, will it be one of business or one of philanthropy? By philanthropy, we don't mean just giving money away, we mean creating a new paradigm to address poverty.

Carlos Slim: I think both are important.

Actually, the idea of develop human capital and physical capital needs -- some areas that are not profitable, you need to have the foundations -- but where it is profitable, it is important that physical infrastructure is profitable. It will be investment. I think the combination of both is very important. Both are fundamental to the development of our countries, to fight poverty and to break the barrier of underdevelopment. I think you need to arrive to some kind of income per capita, some level of income per capita that is like a speed to break the barrier of underdevelopment. Like to get out of the air, you need some speed to break the gravitational forces. You need a revenue per capita to break it, and I think many of our countries are near that. I think investment is very important, because employment is made by investment. So you need to invest, and businesses need to invest. Businesses are necessary to give employment, and by the other side, what is not profitable -- or short-term profitable -- should be supported by foundations, like human capital, the health of the people, nutrition. Then they work together I think.

In addition to that, you believe culture and the arts play an important role.

Carlos Slim: It's human capital. Culture and arts is where we are more advanced, but you also need to take care of the environment. Medioambiente, we say. Environment, ecology. Arts, entertainment, sports also. We're also working in sports. That's human capital, human and social capital, to have this kind of support of these activities by the private sector.

It addresses the human spirit.

Carlos Slim Interview Photo
Carlos Slim: Sure. It addresses it and makes stronger.

Right. You created a museum, named for your beautiful wife. She loved the arts.

Carlos Slim: The collection was owned by me, but she was really, really, very sensitive to the arts. I learned a lot from her. She was really very sensitive and very profound and loved art and the beauty of things.

People say that art fills a spot in the heart where business or other things just can't. We take it art filled that spot for you. Yes?

Carlos Slim: Yes, yes. Art, but also nature, the sea, sunsets, the forest, the rivers, the falls.

This has been a wonderful conversation. Thank you so much.

Thank you.

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