People need to get rid of the old, silly idea that capitalism must be amoral — or immoral — to produce returns. That has never been true and yet many on Wall Street believe it.
Ihad the pleasure of interviewing Trevor Neilson, Co-Founder and CEO i(x) investments. Trevor is co-founder and CEO of i(x) investments, an entrepreneurial, multi-strategy impact investing platform, structured as a holding company, addressing areas of human need. To date, under Neilson’s leadership, i(x) has launched platforms in the following issue areas: Renewable Energy, Carbon to Value, Waste to Energy, Green Commercial Real Estate, Gender Equality, Education and Media. Prior to launching i(x) investments, Neilson served as President of G2 Investment Group where he helped lead the firm’s initiatives in energy, real estate and security. Before his work with G2, Neilson was co-founder of Global Philanthropy Group an advisory firm (sold to Todd Wagner and Charity Network in 2017). In that capacity, he has been involved in the creation and implementation of many of the world’s most respected philanthropic initiatives and has worked with over fifty major philanthropists. Neilson’s leadership in business and social change included time as the Executive Director of the Global Business Coalition (GBC). GBC is a coalition of over 200 multinational companies which is focused on global health issues and was created with investments from Bill Gates and Ted Turner amongst others. In this capacity, Neilson reported to Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations and President Obama’s former Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Prior to his leadership of the GBC, Neilson worked closely with Bill & Melinda Gates, both in their family office and as Director of Special Projects and as a founding member of the team that created and launched the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation where he served as the Director of Public Affairs. Named by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader, Neilson served in the White House during the Clinton administration and served on the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre International Advisory Network. Neilson also serves as Co-founder and Chairman of the Climate Emergency Fund and as Chairman of Las Flores Holdings, an investment firm focused on companies creating top-tier returns and measurable social impact. He is active in a variety of personal philanthropic initiatives including the Climate Mobilization. In the wake of the devastating California fires in 2018, Neilson co-founded the Malibu Foundation. He was named a “Citizen of the Year” by the Malibu Times in honor of his work following the devastating fires in Malibu and the surrounding region.
Thank you so much for joining us Trevor. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Ihad spent much of my life either in government, philanthropy or finance. I worked in the White House, worked for the world’s wealthiest and most generous philanthropist (Bill Gates) and have seen the power — and limitations — of both government and philanthropy.
Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change The World”?
Capitalism, when re-imagined, can help us solve the biggest problems we face — becoming a part of the solution instead of the problem. If we do not harness the power of capitalism we will not be able to address the greatest threat humanity has ever faced; catastrophic climate change.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to create i(x) investments?
I realized that no amount of philanthropic money can fix the biggest problems we face. We need the power of finance to be an engine for good.
What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?
People need to get rid of the old, silly idea that capitalism must be amoral — or immoral — to produce returns. That has never been true and yet many on wall street believe it.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- Wisdom comes from within yourself as often as from others
- Risk and reward are always interlinked.
- Being still brings the best ideas
- Everything is impermanent except for love.
- Government can’t really solve the biggest problems we face.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Meeting Nelson Mandela in his home, introducing my daughters to Desmond Tutu, being backstage with Bono, working for President Clinton and working out with Laird Hamilton are a few of the highlights.
Based on the future trends in your industry, if you had a million dollars, what would you invest in?
Technologies that convert carbon dioxide and waste into valuable products.
Which principles or philosophies have guided your life?
William Wordsworth’s “Lines Composed Above Tintern Abbey” has been the most important thing I ever read
I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.
Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?
Meditation. Waking up early and going to bed early. Living and working without fear of failure.