The world knows Karel Janeček as a philanthropist, a mathematician, a champion against corruption, but also an enthusiastic supporter of science. In addition to that, he is the author of an innovative electoral system and an eccentric billionaire who used to enjoy exploring the model of polygamy. He may be currently living a quiet life with his wife Lilia and their daughter Isabella, but in his free time, he still undertakes plenty of adrenaline adventures. In an interview for Luxury Prague Life he talked not only about family life and traveling, but also about the politics of Václav Klaus.
Mr. Janeček, you are involved in a great number of interesting things, but Czech people mainly see you as a rich womanizer. Why are all the tabloids after you?
The tabloids probably fancy Lilia and myself because of our unconventional attitude to life. We are open people and we’re not afraid to swim against the stream; naturally, many people find that entertaining in one way or another. I think that is why the the tabloids are so fond of us, seeing as they need to seek out controversial topics and sensations in order to ensure readership popularity.
And that doesn’t bother you?
I realize that it bothers my wife Lilia, especially when it’s a bunch of nonsensical lies. I don’t really dwell on it and I don’t mind it. In the long run, I even see it as a potentially good thing - for the projects my wife and I are involved in, such as the D21 electoral system, the Laskavec project, or the support of a female monastery in Bhutan.
That may be true, but tabloids sneak into your private life then. And it may have impact, for example, on your children...
Of course, the fact that pieces of information from our private lives are being shared can be very unpleasant. We strive for a sensitive approach and respect from the media with our children.
You are 45 years old and have several children with different women. Don't you want to finally switch to monogamy?
I’m not a fan of hypocrisy in the sense of people forcing themselves into something that is not natural for them. There are people who are naturally monogamous, and I deeply respect their choice. Personally, I see the basis of a relationship elsewhere. The partnership in which I live today is based mainly on truth and respect. When Lilia and I got back together in the spring, we made the promise of radical truthfulness and loyalty to each other, in the sense in which the two of us understand it. We specifically agreed that neither of us would ever do anything that would hurt the other.
It seems like this hasn’t been your moral code for the larger part of your adult life. Back then the truth about your relationships was revealed in a live broadcast of TV Prima, where you told Jana Doležalová, but nobody had known that about you before.
Several people knew, including Jana Doležalová. I was completely transparent to her, but my announcement on the camera was impulsive and not appropriate. At that time, I regretted it, but in retrospect I am glad that it accelerated our breakup.
How do you fit such a diverse love life into your schedule?
I’m currently living an extremely conservative life. I even surprise myself.
You’ll have to explain that to me...
I am very happy with Lilia, we have a beautiful girl and our relationship gives me everything I need. I'm not seeking any extravagance in terms of personal life. What we went through at the beginning, back in the time when I was trying to balance us and a parallel relationship with Mariem (his second wife Mariem Mhadhbi, Ed. Note), was extremely difficult. Less than a year ago, our relationship and life has finally stabilized and we are enjoying it very much together. Even though it is still rather conservative. (laughs)
Actually, I rather wanted to build on the fact that when it comes to workload, you have multiple functions, several companies, charities… I wonder how you manage to combine it all with family, with children and possibly with other partners?
Naturally, I need to make the most of my time and focus on what I consider most important. Of course, in terms of my personal life, that means my children and Lilia. When it comes to my professional life, it is the aforementioned D21 electoral system, with the academic title Janeček’s method. We are working hard on promoting, implementing and publishing the D21 at my institute, newly called H21 (A 21st Century Human). It is the D21 that is the key instrument on the way to the ultimate success of human civilization, and so I devote myself to this project most intensively.
In my other activities, I am more in the position of a supervisor and potential adviser. At present, I already have a certain conglomerate where I associate various experts, and they are partly responsible for my private interests.
Did you always know that you would become a billionaire? What is it like to fall asleep knowing you are known to be a billionaire?
I didn’t always know I would become this rich. But it’s true that when I was a teenager, I decided that I wanted to be rich not only mentally and spiritually, but also financially. The main motivation why I wanted this since I was young was the realization that in today's world - in order to have freedom - it is very useful to have enough money.
I'm not saying it's necessary, but it does help. Of course, having enough money is not a sufficient prerequirement for freedom. A lot of people are rich, but they are the slaves of their money, which is completely ridiculous. That’s not happiness and freedom for me. To do what I'm doing, it is important to have money, and I have always felt that I wanted to do things that have an impact. Projects that help and change society are time-consuming, which is why it is important to have financial strength, especially nowadays. In this spirit, I believe money means great responsibility to society.
What do you like to spend money on? As a man who doesn't have to worry about money.
I don’t spend money on things. I hate shopping. I can say I don't go shopping at all, I avoid stores. Sometimes I go and buy some flowers, but it costs me great effort and I try to minimize it. What I sometimes like to spend finances on are adrenaline experiences that no one can take away from you.
How do you manage not going to the stores? Do you buy everything online?
The people around me go shopping, I don’t have to buy anything. (laughs)
You also travel a lot…
Yes, we do, and we also spend money on that. But, again, it’s not me doing the spending. In this sense, I am not the one who decides what to buy and what not to buy. I am grateful that my amazing wife is able to take perfect care of these things.
I heard you were going to Kilimanjaro.
Within the RSJ Group, we own the Zuri resort in Zanzibar and RSJ organizes a trip, where it is possible to choose from a climb on the Kilimanjaro and Zuri. It’s going to take place this year in September and our Isabelle will be a year and a half old at that time. I wanted to carry her on Kilimanjaro on my back, but unfortunately they didn't let me; the minimum age is ten. So I will ascend to Kilimanjaro's summit on my own and Lilia with our little one will be waiting for me in Zuri.
You mean you’d take a baby along?
I would definitely take her, but unfortunately, such a little baby has certain physical limitations. However, little Isabella is already an experienced traveler. When she was three weeks old, she flew to Switzerland and France, she did it without me. Then we went to Greece and Albania together, that was in the post-natal period, after which we visited Africa and Zuri in August, she was less than three months old at that time. A month later we went to Jamaica, before Christmas we traveled through the desert in Tunisia only with two Bedouins. We slept in an open tent in a common sleeping bag - with a minimum of three degrees Celsius at night. After the New Year’s eve we were in Bali and Thailand and now, in three weeks, we are flying to South America, Peru. And I’m not even counting the euro weekends when we fly across Europe.
In addition to that, two weeks ago, Lilia took our daughter to Finland, far beyond the Arctic Circle. In summary, little Isabella will have visited all the continents in the world, except for Australia and North America, before she is ten months old.
Too bad she won't remember it...
We'll see, I guess. We can always show her the photos. (laughs)
You also have a foundation…
I have several foundations.
And I have read somewhere that you donate a lot of money per year for example for scientific purposes. Now I’m interested in ordinary people - do they have the tendency to ask you for help on social networks?
It does happen sometimes, but these are exactly the things I absolutely cannot devote myself to, because I wouldn’t have the time, let alone the means. If someone is looking for support, either for an interesting project or for some help, for example, against machinery, bureaucracy or something wrong, they can turn to one of my foundations.
To be specific, I own the Karel Janeček Foundation, which deals with education and civil society. Then the Endowment Fund for Assistance, which organizes collections, and this is the foundation that can help people in need or people who have suffered some unfair injustice. And then there is the Endowment Fund against Corruption.
Which politician is a thorn in your side?
No politician could qualify to be a thorn in my side.
Regarding corruption, do you think that it is still so common in the Czech Republic as it was in the 1990s?
Corruption has become cultivated. In the mid-1990s, it was terrible because there was way too much embezzlement and fraud. What happened in that period was really bad, and one can say it all came from the pen of Václav Klaus. Even in the double meaning of stealing a pen. (laughs)
It's one of the worst things that have happened. My answer to your question, which politician was a thorn in my side, was none, because none of our politicians could qualify for such a "significant" position.
However, if you asked me, who in modern history is the person who caused the most damage to our country, then I am deeply convinced it is unequivocally Václav Klaus. For the sake of privatization, which was very desirable and necessary, this man purposely and directly stopped any legislative processes and control mechanisms, in order to make stealing possible. One example of this are the embezzled privatization funds. It had a negative impact not only on the financial assets of the Czech Republic, but also on moral values of people. When a regular person sees those in power are stealing, he/she doesn’t want to be the honest fool. This is a huge problem and it destroys society. Fortunately, the situation is slightly better today.
Well, there isn’t really much left to be stolen…
It is true that there are fewer opportunities than during privatization. In addition, people are more aware of the fact that corruption is bad. Corruption is a crime, and those who point out cases of corruption are heroes in my book. In the past, a lot of people were able to say that if you alert the authorities to corruption, you are a snitch. It is a remnant of communism, which is terrible. It is obvious that the hero was the person who went against communism, and the one who ratted them out was the snitch.
Stealing is not the way to fight totalitarianism, though! Whenever there is stealing or corruption somewhere, the person doing it is a villain. Anyone who points it out of is a courageous person, who however often pays for their act of bravery.
Unfortunately, some people have a mess in their heads and they are unable to understand that. And it was much worse in the 1990s. Today, more people understand that we have certain higher values, that stealing is bad and that we have a responsibility. That has improved. On the other hand, a lot of things are wrong. I see too much power in the hands of one person nowadays, that's a problem.
You don’t want to engage yourself in politics more significantly?
I am engaged in politics in that I promote the D21 electoral system, whose academic name is the Janeček's method. This is a thing that will change politics globally, not just in the Czech Republic. I believe that the D21 is a key tool for the revival of human society.
I mean if you want to go into politics physically.
No, I'm not thinking about that. You said yourself that I’m involved in a huge amount of projects. That means I would have to postpone some things that are more important to me. That would be an inefficient use of my energy.
Have you ever thought about living somewhere else? Is there a place where you’d be happier?
You mean like in a different galaxy? (laughter)
More like in another country, somewhere in Asia for example, where things are more relaxed… Even your home it looks like it could be in Asia.
If one wanted to maximize their short term quality of life, one might live elsewhere. On the other hand, Prague is beautiful and I like it here. Personally, I mainly feel a huge responsibility, because I have not only financial strength but also, I believe, the ability to create visions and make changes.
I consider it my mission and responsibility to work on world-changing projects. In this sense, the Czech Republic and Prague in particular are great in terms of global change and influence. We are in the middle of Europe, in the center of the action and at the same time on a neutral ground from a global perspective. It is important to me that I can live in our country.
Thank you very much for the interview.
How many children would you like to have?
What does a lot of money mean to you?
If you had your last thousand in your pocket and nothing in the bank or under the mattress, what would you spend the thousand on?
What is the last thing that made you cry?
What do you consider the greatest invention?
Describe in one sentence what is President 21?
What is the thing you find most charming about your partner?
Which politician is a thorn in your side?
What would you like to change about yourself?
What is the last good deed you’ve done?
What one topic do you consider taboo?
Which number has the most importance in your life and why?
What would you like to say to your haters?
Are you happy?
Awesome, that’s great, so that makes two of us.