On Travels and Travails

As the focus of my work is emerging markets, I don’t spend a lot of time in the United States anymore, even though I grew up there. But like many people, I took a bit of time off this summer to enjoy a visit with family. We traveled to Mackinac Island in the state of Michigan, situated in Lake Huron. It was a unique experience for me in that it is the only island I’ve been on where there are no automobiles. The only transportation options are horse-and-buggy or bicycle. It really was like going back in time! While in North America, I also made a stop in Canada and sat down with one of my colleagues to record a podcast. We talked at length about a range of topics, including my childhood, my career, what I’m excited about today and why I never plan to retire!

Here are some highlights:

  • One day, when I was a student at Syracuse University, I saw on the bulletin board: scholarships in Japan. I thought this was kind of intriguing. I got the scholarship and I studied Japanese and Japanese civilization. After six months I decided that’s going to be my career. I’m going to be spending my career in Asia.
  • Sir John Templeton was quite a personality. The thing that impressed me the most about him was that, first of all, he was very frugal. He was very patient, very even-tempered. I never saw him get angry, lose his temper in any direction.
  • I think the key to a successful career is that you’ve got to love what you’re doing. If you’re unhappy. Don’t do it. Get out and do something else. The other is to keep an open mind. Don’t make any conclusions until you have all the facts. Try to learn as much as you can and stay humble. Don’t try to draw conclusions based on your own opinions or your own biases. Be ready to accept new ideas.
  • Five or 10 years from now, I think we are going to see consumer markets in emerging economies become bigger than what you see in Europe or in the United States. The most important thing, I think, is the youth. The populations in emerging markets are generally younger. People are getting married, buying houses, buying furniture. They are going to become big consumers going forward.
  • If a country is going to grow, the resources in that economy have to be allocated by the market, not by the government. So that’s been the sea change that’s created a whole surge of growth in many emerging-market countries.

The full transcript of the podcast follows below.

Keith Damsell: Maybe we could talk a little bit about your family life and the background of your mother and father. It’s really interesting stuff.

Mark Mobius: I come from a very international family in the sense that my father came from Germany, my mother came from Puerto Rico. So in my household, I heard German being spoken, I heard Spanish being spoken, and I ended up only learning English because my mother and father had to communicate with each other in English, basically. So, it was a quite interesting love story because my father and mother met in New York. I think they were both getting their citizenship and they had to go to school, and that’s probably how they got together.