Jeff’s Past: Dopplegänger #6, Mexico

One day I got an email inviting me to a conference in Mexico to talk about the future of the country. I was very excited!

Mexico City,
December 15, 1999

Dear Mr. Gates:

In view of your contribution to the understanding of the world wide dilemma between affluent and impoverished societies and the stimulating approach to reducing the poverty gap contained your innovative book The Ownership Solution, I am writing to inform you of our next significant event and to invite you to be one of its prestigious speakers…

I was very, very excited! Even though I knew I had been mistaken for the OTHER Jeff Gates, I just knew I could convince the writer of my value. His email continued:

The Paradigms or Paradoxes-Mexico’s imminent future event organized by Pinnacle Communications will take place from the 12 to the 14th of next April, 2000. This world class event will bring together some of the world’s top players from the corporate, financial, political and scientific fields and will focus on Mexico’s potential for future development as it comes to terms with political and social transition within an increasingly globalized arena.

I'm in DC but I could have been in Mexico City

We have invited renowned figures as speakers such as Mary McAleese, Carlos Fuentes, James Wolfensohn John Elkins, Bill Gates, John Naisbitt, Nelson Mandela, Nicholas Negroponte, Mike Moore, among others to present their views. The speaker roster will also include Mexico’s main presidential contenders and from the U.S. President Ernesto Zedillo has been invited. So far, Bill Gates, John Elkins and Dr. Lee Silver (Princeton Univ., researcher and leading authority on molecular biology and genetic
participation. In the following weeks we expect confirmations from many of our invited speakers, including the CEO’s of visionary companies such as BP/Amoco, Hughes Network Systems, Telmex and Inbursa (both headed by Carlos Slim), Grupo Pulsar (Alfonso Romo), Compaq, and others…

What company! And with Bill Gates coming, how could I go wrong?

Considering its focus, the issues to be addressed and the stature of speakers, Paradigms or Paradoxes will be a world class event that will also serve as a “wake up call” for Mexico’s business/scientific community and the government administration that will take office next year. We are certain that yourpresence will make add enormously to its relevance. Should you decide to honor us by accepting our invitation, your presentation would enable you to transmit your valuable thoughts and insights to a select audience attending the event as well as to wider media audiences.

I am attaching an event brochure containing the objectives, dates,program, and other relevant information. We look forward to hearing from you in the near future and sincerely hope that your busy schedule will allow you to accept this invitation. We would, of course, be honored to welcome you to Mexico.


True, I do have a busy schedule, but a forum for my thoughts! I quickly


Thank you for your invitation to speak at the Paradigms or Paradoxes conference this April in Mexico City.

During my career as an artist I have focused on issues I feel are important to the understanding of multiple and overlaying cultural values. It is an honor to be asked to participate in your dialogue.

Interestingly, my country’s political, social, and economic future has also, at times, seemed to be a hostage of narrow-minded thinking and preconceived notions. Artists have a way of questioning many of these cultural stumbling blocks. Yet, on numerous occasions, rather than embrace the processes, if not the results of our work as examples of new ways of problem solving, we have been held up as examples of what some might call the “moral slippery slope” of our society.

Very narrow indeed!

Given the globalization that you speak of, I feel it is necessary to find new and creative ways to tackle the issues inherent in cultural progress.

I have written on many issues I think might be excellent starting out points for the discussions you wish to initiate. You may see some of my work on my website.

I agree with your prospectus: the key to success depends on the “how” rather than just “what” is done to accomplish our goals for the next century. I am looking forward to discussing this further with you.

Jeff Gates

It didn’t take long for his response. Jeffrey R. Gates, Jeffrey S. Gates. I could see how someone might mistake us.

Dear Mr. Gates,

Somehow our e mail listings went awry. Our intention was to contact Jeff Gates, author of The Ownership Solution. Sorryabout the mistake.

Re. your e mail and web page, very interesting points of view “culturalstumbling blocks” (sic). We shall certainly consider you for a future event.

Sincerely and wishing you a merry Xmas.

I had to make a few last points. So I responded.

Dear Senor XXXXXXXX,

I, too, am sorry for the mix-up as I was looking forward to participating in your event. Artists have a lot to offer a world in search of new paradigms. And, we’re a very under-utilized group of thinkers!

It’s not the first time my name and looks have gotten me in trouble. I get asked if I’m related to Bill all the time!

You know, I just had a thought: wouldn’t it be fascinating to have Bill Gates, the other Jeff Gates (I almost said “the real Jeff Gates!”) and myself on a panel together to discuss the issues you are interested in! We all seem to be forward thinkers but I’m sure we see the future in very different ways.

Should Jeff Gates decline your offer, please keep me in mind. Thanks.

Jeff Gates

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