Here is the audio, video, and transcript — David has a studio in his home! Here is part of the CWT summary:
He joined Tyler to discuss what makes someone good at private equity, why 20 percent performance fees have withstood the test of time, why he passed on a young Mark Zuckerberg, why SPACs probably won’t transform the IPO process, gambling on cryptocurrency, whether the Brooklyn Nets are overrated, what Wall Street and Washington get wrong about each other, why he wasn’t a good lawyer, why the rise of China is the greatest threat to American prosperity, how he would invest in Baltimore, his advice to aging philanthropists, the four standards he uses to evaluate requests for money, why we still need art museums, the unusual habit he and Tyler share, why even now he wants more money, why he’s not worried about an imbalance of ideologies on college campuses, how he prepares to interview someone, what appealed to him about owning the Magna Carta, the change he’d make to the US Constitution, why you shouldn’t obsess about finding a mentor, and more.
Here is an excerpt from the dialogue:
COWEN: Why do so many wealthy people have legal backgrounds, but the very wealthiest people typically do not?
RUBENSTEIN: Lawyers tend to be very process-oriented and very systematic, and as a result, they tend not to take big leaps of faith because you’re taught in law school to worry about precedent. Precedent is not what makes entrepreneurs successful. You have to ignore precedent, and you’ll break through walls and say you can’t be worried about what the precedent was.
If you’re worried about precedent, you’ll never make a leap of faith to create a company like Apple or a company like Amazon. Lawyers tend to be more, I would say, tradition-oriented, more process-oriented, and more precedent-oriented than great entrepreneurs are.
COWEN: You seem to be in good health. What if someone makes the argument to you, “You would do the world more good by not giving away money now, but investing it through private equity, earning whatever percent you could earn, and when you’re a bit older, give much more away. You can always give more to philanthropy five years down the road.”
RUBENSTEIN: Of course, you never know when you’re going to die, and COVID — we lost 700,000 Americans in COVID. I could have been one of them. I’m 72 years old. If you wait too long to give away your money, you might find your executor giving it away. Secondly —
COWEN: But you could even write that into your will if you wanted. You’d have more to give away, maybe 15 percent a year.
RUBENSTEIN: Yes, but if you take the view that happy people live longer, and if giving away money while you’re alive and you’re seeing it being given away makes you happier, you might live longer. Grumpy people, my theory is, don’t live as long. Happy people live longer.
If giving away money and having people say to me, “You’re doing something good for the country,” makes me feel good, it might make me live longer. If I waited till the last moment to give away the money, it might be too late to have that feel-good experience.
And please note that David has a new book out, The American Experiment: Dialogues on a Dream.