An interview with Miguel Forbes

Miguel Forbes: "It's a good time to invest in Spain, your big companies are below their value" 2013.

Despite its typically Spanish name, it comes from a family of many Scottish generations. His great-grandfather, BC Forbes, founded the well-known Forbes magazine, but it was his grandfather, the mythical Malcolm, who made it a benchmark for success in the Great Depression. Today his grandson, in the depths of the crisis that is going through Spain, launches the Spanish edition, because he believes, despite being aware that the media depend on advertising revenues, that this is a good time to invest in our country. Malcolm Forbes, creator of the famous list of the richest men in the world, was a visionary, extroverted man and lover of the arts and the good life. His grandson, Miguel, is discreet, slow, slow in words and worried, as well as enjoying his own life, for others. 

Read the Q & A below: 


Q. How is your name Miguel and not Michael?

Indeed it would be the name that would correspond to me since my family comes from Scotland, but my parents were inspired by a Spanish ancestor emigrated to Cuba. I understand a little Spanish, but at home we've never spoken.

Q. Well, tell me about your grandfather, Malcolm Forbes, who led Forbes magazine

I was fortunate to meet him and spend with him many weekends, as well as family trips. He was an exceptional man, full of energy, who firmly believed in what he was doing and I think that was the key to the magazine's success.

Q. To create the list of the richest men on the planet, you will need the cooperation of the participants. If not, how do they get the information?

We have been doing this list for many years, since 1986, and we use specialized sources in many parts of the world, both public and private. We have the advice of journalists, financiers and lawyers, who feed us with information, so the data we have are very extensive and contrasted. Some people refuse to collaborate, claiming privacy and security reasons, but we are journalists and we have to get these data to make the list as accurate and complete as possible. The one that has to be on the list, will be.

Q. The top three billionaires on the list, Carlos Slim, Bill Gates and Amancio Ortega, belong to three different fields: telecommunication, technology and fashion, what do you think will be the sectors of success in the future?

Of course technology will continue, but I think there is a sector that is going to have a great expansion, it is about education. People from all over the world are demanding knowledge and the only way that most have access to culture and education is through online training. In fact, there are more and more universities and research centers that impart knowledge through this path. Companies that have this vision, will be very successful in the future. Another sector, which I also think it will have, is that of renewable energy.

Q. Only 10% of your list is women and very few of them "self-made"

It is true that in the list there are many women who occupy these positions because they have inherited the fortune of their family, but, it is also true, that every year more are incorporated, that have started from scratch. An example is Oprah Winfrey, a woman who has made herself and, in addition to having built a media empire, is a very active woman in all matters concerning philanthropy. In fact, he was one of the people who attended the Philanthropy Summit, which we organized at Forbes and which was also attended by people like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and more than 150 billionaires.At this summit, we are concerned not only with finding ways to raise funds and then delivering them to different agencies, but also to create projects that are viable. Also in establishing the mechanisms for there is a monitoring and control of the money invested. For donors to trust that their money is going to be invested properly, guarantees have to be offered.

Q- How is it that they have included among the top millionaires, until this year, 'Chapo' Guzman, a Mexican drug trafficker?

We are journalists, we are not judges, and if your fortune is among the greatest in the world, we must not hide it. In this way, I believe that we also contribute to focus attention on this type of individuals, who manage to amass huge amounts of money through their illicit activities. We also published, at the time, the fortune of Pablo Escobar, the drug trafficker who, as you know, ended up in jail.

Q- Why are not you and your family on the list?

We can not be referees and part. Logically, my grandfather was very clear that the family would not have to appear on any of the many lists that were published in the magazine.

Q. In Nepal, to get the annual GDP, do you think that these billionaires, whom you know, are happy?

Well, I think that the great entrepreneurs, who have made their fortune by doing something in what they believed and enjoyed besides, are happy. Many of them have thought that with their project they could improve the world and they have obtained it.Like Steve Jobs. I'm not so sure that they are the ones who have only dedicated their lives to get a lot of money.

Q. For you, what is more important, money or power?

One thing leads to the other, but for me the important thing is to dedicate myself to what I really like and contribute to the creation of wealth and to have access to it and resources as many people as possible.

P- He has also co-founded Planetary Power, a renewable energy company.

Yes, we are clear that the world will increasingly need more energy to cover all its needs and that it must be as clean as possible to protect the environment. We have opted for solar energy, because the energy produced by the sun in two hours is greater than that consumed by the entire planet in a year. Using the right technology can generate and store solar and hybrid energy, which does not create the problems of renewable energy today and much more effectively.

Q. Despite having a successful career, you have made a mistake.

Of course, we all do. Mine ... I think it's been not taking many risks. Does he miss you?Well, sometimes I have been presented with projects that I thought could work but were risky and I did not dare. When I have succeeded, I have regretted it. But, as mistakes are learned, in the future I think I'm going to risk more.

P- I see that it has taken a long time to risk launching the Spanish edition of Forbes in our country, and it is also in the midst of a deep crisis.

I believe that crises are the time of great opportunities, in which big business is based.Spain is a country with solid companies in infrastructures, banks and tourism.

From the sporting point of view it is an amazing example for the rest of the world. I think the initiative to promote the Spain Brand is excellent, because it is not sufficiently promoted. In addition, in this country there are many prepared people who want to learn from businessmen who have succeeded. We want to be here to inspire entrepreneurs to start their own businesses.

Q- One of the men on her list is Sheldon Adelson, the entrepreneur who is going to create Las Vegas in Madrid, what do you think of him?

From Sheldon Adelson we could say that he represents the example of an entrepreneur. From a family of emigrants, thanks to his keen business vision, he started a hotel project in Las Vegas to attract businessmen. To do this, he came up with innovative elements to facilitate his work as a minibar and fax. And it worked.

Q- Do you know successful men in Spain?

No, this is one of the reasons why I wanted to come to your country: to be able to have meetings with the businessmen who are working hard and well to get this country forward.

Q. Can you tell me the key to becoming a millionaire?

Anyone can become a millionaire. Most of those on our list have started from scratch.The key is that they have known how to innovate and that they have risked.

Q- And to invest successfully?

Well look, now, truly, Spain is a country to invest. Large Spanish companies with international projection are well below their value. Likewise, also real estate assets, so it would be a good time to acquire stocks or properties in this country. I think that, when you look back a few years back, you will realize that this would have been a good opportunity to do so.