- Bloomberg, screenshot
On Monday night at 8 p.m. EST, Bloomberg TV is launching a new show starring one of Wall Street’s most prominent figures, David Rubenstein, the founder and co-CEO of the private-equity firm The Carlyle Group.
The show is called “The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations” and features Rubenstein doing one-on-one interviews with business leaders like Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein. Expect candid discussions about life lessons, formative experiences, and the business leaders’ paths to success.
A few things you should know before you start watching on Monday.
The first episode, featuring Bill Gates, will air Monday, but later episodes will run on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. The show will run for 12 weeks.
Business Insider caught up with Rubenstein and the CEO of Bloomberg Media, Justin Smith, to talk about how and why they decided to work on this project. Smith said the initial idea came from the fact that Rubenstein had already been known in business and political circles for his interviewing skills for some time.
It all started when Rubenstein became president of the Economic Club of Washington, DC. One of his official duties was to introduce the club’s quarterly speakers. But there was a problem.
“I realized that some business people are boring speakers,” Rubenstein told Business Insider over the phone.
So to spice things up he turned the interviews into Q&A sessions. It turned out he could be pretty funny.
“It sort of became a cultish thing in Washington because they were so different and so fresh,” Smith said of Rubenstein’s interviews.
- Bloomberg, screenshot
Before Rubenstein knew it, he was doing speaking engagements here and there. Now he even hosts a private event with members of Congress in which he interviews an American historian. It’s a chance for legislators from both chambers and both parties to come together and learn something.
“If you knew me 30 years ago, I was shy and retiring,” Rubenstein said in his calm cadence, “but when I started Carlyle I had to do presentations and start making speeches, and I got more comfortable … Now I’m making a speeches in front of 1,000 people.”
Rubenstein doesn’t claim to be a journalist, but he does think his personal relationships with some of his guests will give them breathing room to be more candid.
In Blankfein’s episode, for example, the Goldman Sachs CEO discusses in great detail how he learned he had cancer and how he dealt with the diagnosis. “I’m a fatalist,” he tells Rubenstein. But the relaxed, genial tone of the conversation conveys otherwise. Dare we say it, the Goldman CEO seems incredibly normal.
Smith approached Rubenstein about doing the show about nine months ago.
“We viewed this as an experiment,” Smith said. “The name of the game in media and in any business is to do things that are really different and innovative.”
Of course, for Rubenstein the show represents much more than media – it’s a way to frame how he sees success. In our interview he repeatedly associated true accomplishment with humility and an understanding that a lot of what great business leaders have is thanks to luck and the support of their communities.
“Some of the least accomplished people talk about how great they are,” he said with a chuckle. “I’ll let you read into that.”
To prepare for interviews, Rubenstein reads a lot – he says he generally reads two books a week anyway. He does not use notes during interviews because he doesn’t like to break eye contact with his subjects, so he writes his questions down but lets them guide the conversation from his memory. All of this while running a multinational private-equity firm.
“Sleep is overrated,” he said.
As for his hopes for the success of the show, Rubenstein is fairly modest.
“I know at least one person will watch it, and that’s my mother,” he joked.
Check out the show’s intro below: