Monday, April 4, 2011

Lessons learned from Investment bankers and Brazillian billionaires (Day 23)

Photo: (L to R) - Tilyeubek Ye (ADRA-Mongolia), Matthew Lynch (The Asia-Pacific Center for Regenerative Design), and Dorgsurren 'Doc' Khoo (ADRA-Mongolia), at sunrise on the Barrens of Bayan Ulgii.

One of the first lessons I opened up our class on Regenerative Business was this: Never trust an Investment Banker.

I may have to retract that statement and make an exception; good Investment Bankers, ones with functional consciences even, do exist (and, I might add, could be worth their weight in gold).

Thanks to my beautiful new Kazakh fox hat (a gift from the graduating class of Bayan Ulgii's inaugural Permaculture Design Training course), and a strange twist of fate, I find myself sitting next to half of Mongolia's Mexican population on the plane to Beijing, a casually dressed, elegant young man by the name of Oscar Mendoza, who also happens to be the COO of Mongolia's first boutique investment bank: Frontier Securities (Frontier assisted with the first  IPO of a Monoglian-owned mining company, possibly creating Monoglia's first member of the Forbes 400 List and paving the way for other Mongolian companies to follow suit).

Apparently, there's no better icebreaker than a big fluffy hat which looks like an animal has wrapped itself around your head, because Oscar is impressed with the spectacle of my attempts to stuff the oversized furball into the overhead compartment above his seat, and we strike up a very interesting, and diverse conversation ranging from mining, agriculture, NBA All-Star weekend, the foreign investment climate in Mongolia, our respective homelands, Robert Kiyosaki, our current projects, Bank of -Evil- America, former Bank of America employees we know who are now involved in charitable work to atone for their time spent working for Bank of America, sustainable economic development, the amazing potential of the human mind, tsu-te-tse, and oh yes (I told you it was a diverse conversation): Regenerative Business.


Photo: Oscar Mendoza, half the current Mexican population of Mongolia and Co-COO of Frontier Securities.

I'll spare you the details of our rather schizophrenic conversation (which I can assure you, made perfect sense to the both of us, and was highly entertaining, even if only to ourselves), and share a quick story that Oscar told me about one of his billionaire acquaintances:

Our conversation stumbled onto the topic of Robert Kiyosaki's definition of an asset: something which feeds you.  Oscar Mendoza, (who must be at least somewhat financially savvy to have landed a job which requires him to work on deals containing so many zeroes the numbers sound nonsensical, almost Suess-ical), Co-COO of Mongolia's first and finest boutique(i) Investment Banking firm, commented: By the way I agree with Kiyosaki, even though every bank will probably tell you otherwise.

He went on to tell me about his billionaire acquaintance, a very wealthy and ambitious, self-made Brazillian man who runs one of the world's largest Oil and Natural Gas companies (OGX).  This man makes no secret of his desire to become the world's wealthiest man, and in the course of his dealings one evening, Oscar took it upon himself to suggest to gentleman that it might be quite a task to knock of the Mexican gentleman who sits above him on the Forbes 400, a billionaire who made his fortune in Telecom - he would be pretty difficult to knock off because his business model basically requires him to do little more than sit back and collect his revenues, now that the money has already been spent on building the infrastructure which runs everything.

In comparison, the Oil Business requires huge amounts of money to research & discover a viable oil field, then even more money to develop & tap the field to create productive wells, and more money to extract, refine & deliver the final products. 

The Brazillian billionaire smiled, leaned in a little closer and said I'll tell you my little secret: 

When I want something to happen, every night before I go to bed, I spend 30 minutes in my thinking room, where I think in detail about exactly how everything will look when it's done.  They said I couldn't build the largest shipping port in Brazil; but I did.  They think I'm superstitious and crazy, and can't believe that it could possibly be so simple.  They say I can't be the richest man in the world; we'll see.  But I tell you this: my simple little secret, it works.

So there you go.  Maybe it really is that simple: Think, and grow rich.

To think is to create. 

Thoughts are things. 

Mind over matter. 

We get what we focus on.

However you want to phrase it; think I'll give it a try.  ...I'll let you know how it works out.

 But McBean was quite wrong. I’m quite happy to say.
That the Sneetches got really quite smart on that day.
The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches.
And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches.
That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars and whether
They had one, or not, upon thars.
   - From Dr Suess' 'The Sneetches' -


Oh, and in case you were wondering... the man he was telling me about, the Brazillian billionaire? 

His name is Eike Batista.

Look him up - maybe you can even try out his little secret for yourself.



(i) Unlike the big boys (Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Merril Lynch and the like), employees of most boutique investment banking firms live and work in the communities they serve, and therefore have an additional layer of accountability which simply isn't present with the big boys; when you live and work in a community, relationships are at stake, and you are physically present to deal the consequences of your actions, for better or worse, face-to-face. 


  1. A nice way to interact and get tips from great Business minds.

  2. thanks for stopping by David :)