Bill Gates vs. Carlos Slim

When I was in the US, if the name Bill Gates came up in conversations, people tended to say positive things about him. I used to hear jokes in school about how Bill Gates was so rich that his house had its own zip code (which is not so funny when you realize it’s true!). Although some dismissed Mr. Gates as a man too rich to understand 99.99% of us, those same people could not deny the good work and contribution Bill was making around the world with his donations and philanthropy work.

When I worked with students a couple of years ago, I used to ask them if they knew who the richest man in the world was. The popular answer: Bill Gates. I encountered one or two cool nerds that knew that answer was no longer correct. The richest man in the world is Carlos Slim. Instead of asking these students if they knew who Carlos Slim was, I focused their attention on WHY Bill Gates was no longer the richest man in the world. He gave, and continues to give, back.

One of my favorite vocabulary words in high school was “oxymoron”. Whenever I think of Carlos’ last name, my brain quickly registers that word. Carlos’ last name accurately reflects his generosity. It’s almost like he gives back because he feels he has to or his businesses will suffer. Nobody wants to support a business that belongs to someone with a mentality like Ebenezer Scrooge, especially a sassy Latino version.

I have yet to meet a Mexican in Mexico whose opinion of Carlos Slim is more positive than negative. Maybe I should go interview his financial adviser. So why is Carlos’ image so negative? There’s no need for a dissertation or powerpoint presentation to answer this question. Plain and simply, he’s codo (stingy). Many Mexicans I spoke to about this expressed embarrassment to the reality that the richest man in the world is a fellow compatriot who is not doing more within his position of privilege to help his country. Instead, he’s focusing more on his business empire. Mr. Slim, maybe you don’t want to help Mexico in ways that other wealthy people have in other countries. OK, fine. But it is self-righteous and pompous (another favorite vocab word of mine) to ridicule those who genuinely give back with the wealth they’ve been blessed with.

A couple of years ago, Carlos Slim gave his perspective on what he thought about giving back like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett: “…businessmen can do more good by building solid companies than by ‘going around like Santa Claus’ donating money.” Don’t let the Santa Claus reference distract you. Mr. Slim, when successful professionals give back, they’re not always giving back as “businessmen”. They’re giving back as human beings that willingly accept the responsibility of  utilizing their wealth to aid the world in sectors that greatly need it. Consequently, they ARE contributing to the “building of solid companies” in many respects. Companies, organizations and foundations that do not necessarily belong to them either.

Maybe Carlos should get a better PR guy to help improve his image, but my guess is that he doesn’t have one. The Grinch never needed one either. Sometimes image is everything and Carlos Slim can definitely improve it.

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7 thoughts on “Bill Gates vs. Carlos Slim”

  1. I can’t believe Carlos Slim really said that. Thats ridiculous and absurd. He should really learn from Bill Gates and should contribute to country especially the impoverished .. That could give him a positive image.. Besides how much more money does he need, he is already a billionaire.. Thanks for adding your blogs, i always read them..

    1. Yeppers. I don’t think Carlos is a lost cause. Sometimes people get “touched” and feel the need to give back when you least expect them to. At the same time though, I’m not holding my breath 🙂

  2. Most of his money is in corporate holdings. If he were to sell his positions the value of his shares would drop and the other share holders would be hurt. I agree that the wealthy should donate but I do believe creating a strong tax paying business with thousands of employees is just as important as any philanthropy.

  3. Problem with Carlos is he became Richest man Suddenly with no intentions and he’s relatively New billionair companre to Bill and Buffet who fuckin spent half centuries as Billinaires so both of them got zeal to donate. If carlos remain billionaire for nxt 20 yrs, maybe he will become a little generous.

  4. It depends on One’s business. Bill and buffets business and holdings are pretty stable i.e microsoft and birkshire stock, so they are fearless in giving away not afraid of losing anything while carlos business is very very unstable making him fearful of sudden drop in wealth if he started throwing $100 bills in random crowd. At least he’s not Atheist like gates and buffet . YOu fucking don’t disregard and reject god who gave u all this money and declare ” IM THE MAKER OF MY DESTINY” ” IM THE SUPERMAN”. it’s very very UNHUMBLE and PROUDIOUS so in my mind, in a sense CARLOS far far better human than other two.

  5. Not sure which Mexicans you know. All the humble carpenter/mason/landscaping mexican friends of mine think Slim is a great guy, smart and generous… and richer than the super-arrogant Gates who is working feverishly at eugenics and wrecking education with his loser charter school plans.

    Statistics lie but facts are facts: 80% of charter schools do NOT perform better than the schools they intended to replace. Furthermore, under-performing students in charter schools are promptly escorted to the door so as to not ruin their results.

    Go away, Mr. Gates. Your Windows software was enough of a scourge on humanity. This is reflected in your current stock price… in the toilet. You, along with Michael Dell. You haven’t had a good, original idea, and now is no different.

    How is your Y2K “talk to computer” idea working? Your smart home?

    Now you’re working on privatizing electrical power production. Please, stop now.

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