Gustavo Cisneros in interview with Forbes. May, 2011.
May 6, 2011Leadership Adriana Cisneros and Gustavo Cisneros of Cisneros GroupForbes. By Susan AdamsThis interview is part of the cover story in the May 23, 2011 issue of Forbes, wherewe ask eight father/child pairs to reflect on their relationships and the extent towhich they think entrepreneurial drive is a result of nature, nurture or both.Adriana Cisneros is director of strategy and vice chairman of $1.5 billion (sales)Cisneros Group, a private media, entertainment, telecom and consumer productsconglomerate founded in 1929, now based in Coral Gables, Fla. Her father,Gustavo, took over the business from his father, Diego, in 1970. FORBES pegs thefamily’s value at $4.6 billion. Adriana’s two older siblings advise the company, butin 2009 Gustavo named her as successor. Since then she has created aninteractive strategy for the company’s 12 TV programs–from news to hit Hispanicsoap opera Eva Luna–and headed game applications for mobile devices.Adriana on the origins of her business drive: Nurture is a big part of it. … Myparents were extremely supportive of their kids coming up with crazy ideas. When Iwas 6 years old I started a club, Los Emprendedores, in the Dominican Republic,where we had our beach house. We spent the day picking up bottles, and ourparents would pay us for them.When I was 13 years old and in school in Venezuela, we had spring break. Myfather had come up with the idea of DirecTV in Latin America. He needed a localpartner in each country for receiving satellite signals. I got on a plane with him andwent to a different city in Latin America every day for 14 days.Gustavo: We thought DirecTV had a better chance in Latin America because ofthe immense landmass and the lack of wiring and cable. At that [time] it was a hardconcept to explain. But [Adriana] got it after two sessions, and she became like agoodwill ambassador. … She would sit down in all my meetings and listen verycarefully. … She asked a lot of questions.
Gustavo on what he has in common with his father and daughter: My fatherlacked fear. He took chances that other people would not take. … He had somefailures but he tried to make them in a smart, informed way. He took risks,nevertheless. I was a risk-taker, too. Fear was not an element in my life, fear inbusiness. … I wanted to be number one. … [Adriana] has a passion and no fear offailure. That, perhaps, she inherited from me.Adriana on her relationship with her father: Ninety percent of the time he has letme do things the way I want to do them. The incredible thing is he has become mythinking partner. We can talk about very big ideas–and so forward-thinking that ifwe talk about them with other people too soon, they probably think I’m crazy.Gustavo on Adriana: She has immense drive. She’s tireless. She has very goodideas and wants to carry them out. We had a big success with [the interactivestrategy on the soap opera] Eva Luna.