David Rubenstein: Private Equity and The Economy [Members Only]

On this Members Only episode of The Knowledge Project, billionaire businessman and philanthropist David Rubenstein discusses the definition of private equity and the near-term and long-term outlook, his current view of the markets and the U.S. economy, interest rates, decision making, opportunity cost and so much more.

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Here are a few highlights from the conversation:

Some parents might say if your children are willing to call you from time to time, that might be a success. But generally, I think most people would say if you’ve raised children who are happy, reasonably well-adjusted to life, have a purpose in life, and seem to be becoming productive citizens. What else can you want out of life for your children?

You learn that you’re going to make some mistakes, all deals won’t work. Things you can’t anticipate happening, happen. Sometimes there’s also a lot of luck involved and you get lucky sometimes.

So, we have experts in their given areas. They look at them, and if they work their way up to the investment committee, then I’ll take a look at it. People always think a deal is going to be great and they want to bring you an idea. But you have to be polite and say, “Well, this might be good, let me have my expert look at it.” As opposed to saying, “I’ll look at it and I’ll tell you myself it’s not a good idea.”

What is the purpose of life? The purpose of life is presumably to enjoy what you’re doing, create happiness in other people, particularly let’s say your children, and to feel like you’ve done something useful for humanity.

Everybody makes adjustments to their life, depending on what they think is the value of their contributions to society, what they think they can realistically do to help society, and what they think they need to do in terms of relaxation and rest in order to be able to do other good things on the other side of their life.

But in another way, I would say, “Look, find something that you enjoy doing and work hard at it. Ultimately, if it’s successful and you make money, do something creative with the money and do something that gives back to society.” That’s what I try to do in recent years, I wish I had started 20 years earlier.

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