One of the greatest challenges in business journalism is actually getting the people who matter to sit down and speak frankly about their affairs. This causes many business journalists to find it difficult to land important interviews, and big stories. As a result, many of these men are lonely and unloved, with only their ethics to keep them warm at night.
Me? I play the ball where it lies.
When I find that I cannot get through to someone, I simply close my eyes and imagine what that person might have said had we actually spoken. I then report whatever I imagined as fact. My critics have called this practice bogus and dishonest, but down to a single man my detractors have changed their minds in subsequent conversations that I have imagined myself having with them.
I recently shared an afternoon with Manuel Medina-Mora, the Chairman and CEO of Citigroup Latin America. At ease and surrounded by a clutch of young women on the patio of his hillside villa overlooking Acapulco Bay, Mr. Medina was in a reflective mood, and let down his guard to this young journalist as few captains have industry have before.
Trip Paulson: Let me start off the interview by...
Manuel Medina-Mora: "No, you let me start. Cockroach! Because nobody starts nothing in Acapulco without Manuel Medina Mora!"
Manuel: "Now I change my mind. Go ahead. You start."
Trip Paulson: Alright. Last year you did more deals in Mexico than...
Manuel: "Stop. No more. I cannot think, esay. I am in love with this woman, meng..."
Trip Paulson: You are?
Manuel: "Ay, cabron. She got me good! Like a bullet to the heart. I want to give her my chorizo and I can't stop thinking about it. And last night, I call her to say I love her! Guess what?"
Trip Paulson: What?
Manuel: "She say she love me too!"
Trip Paulson: Congratulations, that's just wonderful.
Manuel: (Points to three young women sunning themselves on far end of patio) "Watch this. Watch me, Trip. Puta esay, I'm going to make them kiss. Paola! Silvana! Mary-Carmen! Kiss!"
They stood in their dental floss bikinis, and shared a long kiss.
Manuel: "Yes. Very nice. The one in the yellow bikini, she is Silvana. She say she in love with me!"
Trip Paulson: She did?
Trip Paulson: But what about the other woman?
Trip Paulson: The woman you were just talking about a moment ago...
Manuel: "The slut! I do not love her."
Trip: But you just said you did.
Manuel: "I change my mind. Hey, Trip, watch me. I do it again. Silvana! Paola! Mary-Carmen! Kiss!"
They stood once more, and kissed once more.
Manuel: (Clapping) "Tell me, Trip. How do I have these powers?"
Trip Paulson: What powers?
Manuel: "To make the girls kiss!"
Trip Paulson: I think it probably has a lot to do with the fact that you run all of Latin America for Citigroup.
Manuel: "What is this I do?"
Trip Paulson: I pretty sure that you run all of the bank's Latin American operations. Lending, banking, trading, the whole enchilada, if you will.
Manuel: "You lie to me! You are a cockroach!"
Trip Paulson: No. Really. You have been running it all for several years now.
Trip Paulson: I know.
Trip Paulson: Yeah.
Manuel: "Then we must celebrate!"
Trip Paulson: Sure. What do you have in mind?
Manuel: "Watch me Trip! Watch me go! Silvana! Paola! Mary-Carmen! Kiss!"