Ricardo Salinas is founder and chairman of media, retail, and banking giant Grupo Salinas. Before talking about microfinance, philanthropy, and Mexico’s past and future in New York, he gamely stepped into the green room to answer questions ranging from the provenance of his fashionable eyeglasses to where he finds inspiration.
Q. Where did you get your glasses?
A. My wife is my decoration assistant here. I got them in Mexico-I think they’re Starck.
Q. What do you like best about New York?
A. The people. New York City is an incredibly dynamic, complex society. It probably represents the best of the U.S. and of the world-it attracts the best and brightest from around the world.
Q. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
A. How about a lie detector! I might be terribly disappointed, huh?
Q. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
A. Hard work pays off, and you have to stand by what you believe in, and do what you think is right.
Q. Where can we find you at 9:00 on a Friday night?
A. Probably reading on my computer at home. I have a very nice weekend home, and we go there on Friday afternoons.
Q. What Spanish phrase do you think Americans should know and use?
A. Family is the most important thing-and we say that a lot in Mexico: “La familia es la mas importante.”
Q. What are you superstitious about?
A. Number seven-it shows up an awful lot in craps.
Q. It’s your last meal. What do you order?
A. Probably a New York strip steak, with artichokes.
Q. What profession would you like to practice in your next life?
Q. What music have you listened to today?
A. When I travel and get on a plane, I listen to a lot of classical music. I love Mozart. I have a huge collection of music-30,000 songs in my iPod, of all kinds. I’m a frustrated disc jockey.
Q. What year, past or present, would you time-travel to if you could?
A. 1521-the conquest of Mexico.
Q. What was the last thing that inspired you?
A. A meeting with 1,200 women who are using our microcredit business in Chiapas. I was really struck to see how they live, and what they’re doing with these microloans. It’s really inspiring to come face to face with so much energy and optimism. I would recommend it to anybody: go see what these women are doing for a living and stop complaining, because they’re working really hard.
*Photo by Don Pollard.