tv The David Rubenstein Show Peer to Peer Conversations Bloomberg June 20, 2018 9:00pm-9:30pm EDT
♪ go intoou wanted to technology banking. tim: in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king. david: were there technology opportunities? tim: very few. david: what propelled you to start your own company? tim: very few software companies are efficiently run. david: you became involved in philanthropy. tim: philanthropic endeavors are part of my family dynamic. we have to ensure our society is a just a society. >> would you fix your tie, please? david: well, people wouldn't recognize me if my tie was fixed, but ok. just leave it this way. alright. ♪
david: i don't consider myself a journalist. and nobody else would consider myself a journalist. i began to take on the life of being an interviewer even thou i have a dob of running a private equity firm. how do you define leadership? what is it that makes somebody tick? when you were growing up in , the son of school teachers, did you ever think you would become the wealthiest african american in the united states? i was raised in a family of achievers. , not only to my brother and i, but to the rest of my family, becoming educated, working hard, and becoming the
pinnacle of success in one's community. when i look back at those days and the formative elements of io we were in our community, saw parents who gave generously of time, energy, effort, and intellectual capacity to our community. that led me to think about striving for excellent spice. david: i would like you to explain what you did to make this great fortune. robert: we bridged a couple of ideas. software is the most productive tool introduced over the last 50 years. a number of software companies and how they operated. i ran across one that turned out to be a client, and ultimately ended up being my first investor. set ofsiness had a business practices that help them run that business more efficiently than any software
company. in essence, i took some of the .ernels of those best practices i took them as an engineer and created a process around delivering best practices, enterprise software, you could do quite well. david: when you grew up in denver, was there a lot of discrimination against african americans? robert: i grew up when desegregation was started. there aren't segregated communities, and there still are . it is unfortunate. i grew up in a predominantly african-american community. we lived in that community ,ecause you still had red lines lack of accessibility to capital, which created the basis of a lot of wealth in america. there was a lot of time growing up that i understood the importance of community, and it was pretty much a segregated untility i grew up in,
forced busing created desegregation of the school systems. david: when you were young, your mother brought you to the march in washington. robert: she did. the impact of bringing me and my brother was for us to understand our community stood for was striving something, and it was important we were part of it. that is part of the lifelong part of my soul, which is i have to get back and help my community move forward in this wonderful country called america. david: we are in the african american history and culture museum, of which you are one of the largest donors. your mother was living in denver at the time, but she grew up in washington. your grandparents, what did they do? robert: my grandfather was the postmaster general here in the d.c. area. before that when he was in high school, he worked in the senate building. he worked in the senate lounge
and served coffee, tea, and took had sent codes from various senators as they came in. when president obama was inaugurated, i brought my grandfather, who was 93 at the time. while we were there feeling the majesty of the moment, he would look up in that senate building and pointed to one window and said i used to work in that room. he said i remember looking up at window when fdr was inaugurated and there was not a black face in the crowd. q we are, and i am sitting with my grandfather seeing the first black president being inaugurated. he said america is a great place if you are willing to work hard. that sticks with me to this day. david: you went to cornell. you majored in engineering. robert: chemical engineering. david: the school is now named after you as a result of guess you have given. robert: how about that?
david: your first job was at goodyear. he went to air products and chemicals. robert: i worked in applied research and development and developed a line of products. it extended the shelf life of foods. kraftthere, i went to foods. awas all about had you create unique solution no one else had come up with, great ideas no one had come up with and solve problems. david: how did you go from working in engineering to a financial engineering job at goldman sachs? robert: it is an interesting story. i did well. to school.me back as they went to my background, there was a man who ran his own investment bank who was the keynote speaker. he gave his speech and said you
have a really interesting background. have you thought about a career in investment banking? i said there are a bunch of former investment bankers in my class. i said i don't like it. he said, why not? i said we are engineers and we know everything. he chuckled. i was happy he did not take offense at my joke but i said i don't understand what investment bankers do. i was a scientist. i thought about the world through that lens. this is a case where somebody extended themselves for me and i continue to pay that forward. he said let's come to my office and we will talk about it. we sit down and have lunch. he picks up the phone and calls people like stan o'neal, at the time the cfo of merrill lynch. david: these are all prominent african-american business leaders. robert: all of them took the meetings. from there, they introduced me to other people.
i had 100 interviews in my fall of the second year of my business school. i figured out mergers and acquisitions was the only investment i want to be in. a cdl-level discussion, board-level discussion, strategic discussion, and that was interesting to me and i thought i could at particular value to that business. david: the three jobs you had before you went to business school, did you feel any discrimination? robert: oh yeah. in america i have and still do. i remember a time when i was at their product and i was invited to give a talk in california in san francisco and one of the big conventions. this man come over and ask questions about how does it work , extension of shelflife, price. i am explaining the dynamics, biology, and the issues you have to think about in addition to the microbiological issues. the guy said, you are a smart guy.
you just have your heritage to overcome in order to be successful in business. that's stuck with me at a time after all of this wonderful work i'm doing that he still viewed me through that lens as opposed to the work i had done. david: you went to goldman and said i'm leaving. did they try to talk you out of it? robert: of course. at some point you have to look at yourself in the mirror and take a little risk. ♪ take a little risk. ♪
you went to columbia business school and i assume you did well because you went to goldman sachs afterwards. what year did you join? robert: 1994. david: how did you decide you wanted to go into technology banking? robert: in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king. he had another company we took public called microsoft. we have this other company called ibm. that was the world of technology as far as goldman was concerned. david: were there are a lot of african-americans in technology at the time? robert: very few. david: i was the first banker on the ground to focus on tech. we decided to form a tech group.
-- david: when you became wealthy, you became very involved in philanthropy. thisch of your given related to african-american causes. i would like to talk about a couple. the african-american history and culture museum, what attracted you to that cause? robert: there are two elements where we have been stained by slavery and racism. what we need to do is have a monument to the people who have put their blood into the soil that created what is the best country in the world. that important african-american people have a place to come to feel the pride of who you we are and contribute their story. any family can now digitize ,heir photographs, narrative
the videography, whatever it might the it is now part of this museum. .eople will be able why did you big come such an active financial list -- david: why did you become such an active philanthropist? robert: when i was going up, my mom said go earn the money. she instilled in me the importance of giving to the community. who ran father on board the local ymca. time, how he contributed energy, and intellectual capacity raising funds so the kids in our neighborhood could go to summer camp and enjoy the outdoors and understand the importance of the outdoors. ,ll through my life growing up
philanthropic endeavors were part of my family dynamic. david: you sign the giving pledge that sensual giveaway half your wealth. robert: it is so interesting. that folks like you are out there being evangelists for what this is. one thing we have to do is ensure our society is a just a society. our society has the ability to cure its own problems. accumulate wealth on the one hand, we need to solve the problems that are facing us today while we are alive. part of what i think about is i know today the problems that are facing the communities i care about. to doave the capacity something about them, it is on me to do something. the giving pledge is a good way to put a signal out there to say, listen, this is the right thing for anyone who accumulates wealth of any size. to actually care about the
community in meaningful ways. david: you have another interesting philanthropic roger. you have a ranch that you have converted. robert: it is called lincoln hill, the oldest african-american resort community founded by african-americans as a place where african-americans could buy a plot of land for $25, build a cabin, and that is where they would come in the summer for vacation. it goes way back in history. everyone from duke ellington, langston hughes, count basie all come there and stay there because they could not stay in ofels during that period history. after desegregation, a lot of the african-american institutions fell into disrepair and was sold off into different parts. now we developed a program that serves our community and so many different ways. 6000 kids every summer come to the ranch.
we bring 200-300 wounded veterans every year. in the winter when the ranch is shut down, one of the things my identified -- my wife identified is that there are programs, one is called together we rise, that handles aging out foster kids. now we have built at the ranch a 16 bedroom ranch house and we can host up to 30 kids during the holidays. we hosted them and do fun activities. david: you are a big fly fisherman. tell me what the appeal is. you have a big rain and you're trying to outsmart a small brain, so why is that -- robert: because those little brains are actually focused on outsmarting you because you are in their territory. the beauty of it, david, his you are standing -- all things that we live in this world today depend on water to live. i think about water as the literal lifeblood of this planet. you are standing in this water
with your feet on the soil and at some point in time if you open yourself to it, you realize you are part of this greater consciousness of existence. flyfishing is a way to stand in the water without looking ridiculous. david: your parents are still alive? robert: my mother is. david: does she call you all the time and tell you how great you are. robert: she usually calls me and tells me what i need to do community needs is still relevant. she identifies areas where she says you need to think about this and help these kids in certain ways. david: what is your greatest pleasure, pleasing your mother coming giving away money question mark -- money? robert: catching a 30 inch rainbow. david: all right. robert: it is frankly to liberate the human spirit. when you are able to liberate the human spirit and see that
spirit become its best self, that is the greatest thrill on the planet. david: what would you like to have people say is your legacy? you eventually might slow down into something else. would you ever go into government? robert: i don't know. like all things, you look for areas where you can bring a unique solution to an solve a problem. i think the problems i want to solve now are an equalization of opportunity for african-americans, to help them , you know, how do we create sustainable career opportunities for people, not just a job or a place to go work? it is through education, internships. i hope i am able to establish and build a sustainable fabric to identify these folks, get them educated in a series of schools, get them the right internships, and put them on a path to not only be creative business leaders will but also
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