Warren Buffett is one of the world’s richest men, with assets totalling up to US$66 billion as of 2016. His main source of wealth is his company Berkshire Hathaway, a conglomerate holding company headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska. His philosophy of value investing and prudence has influenced many investors worldwide.
A Short Biography
Buffett was born in 1930 to Howard and Leila Buffett. His father was a businessman and politician who served in Congress.
From a very young age, Buffett displayed the qualities of an entrepreneur and an investor. As a child, he went door-to-door selling chewing gum, Coca Cola and magazines. In elementary school, he purchased a pinball machine and placed it in a barber store. This was so successful that he ended up owning several pinball machines at different stores.
During his time in college, he continued his entrepreneurial activities such as delivering newspapers, selling golf balls and stamps. By the time he was finished with college, he already had over $90,000 in savings (adjusted to 2016 USD).
Buffett offered to apprentice for free at Graham Partnerships under Benjamin Graham, but was instead hired for a paid position. As his mentor, Graham was a strong influence on Buffett and became his role model for value investing.
Later, Buffett started his own partnerships, which would eventually make him a millionaire through stock ownership. Buffett invested in a textile manufacturing firm called Berkshire Hathaway and eventually took over the firm. He began writing annual letters to the Berkshire shareholders, a habit that continues to this day.
Over time, Buffett made many wise acquisitions — companies like The Washington Post, General Reinsurance, ABC and Salomon Inc. — which eventually made him a billionaire. He is widely recognized as one of the most influential financial thinkers of our time.
Awards and Honors
Warren Buffet has received several honors and recognition by the public media, including:
- Top money manager of the 20th century in a survey by the Carson Group
- Time’s 100 Most Influential People, 2007
- Presidential Medal of Freedom, 2011
- World’s most Influential Global Thinker in Foreign Policy’s 2010 report
Leadership Lessons from Warren Buffet
Warren Buffet is probably the most successful investor in the history of the world, and one of the world’s richest men with over US$50 billion in net worth.
1. Stick to Fundamental Values
Buffett always believed in the fundamental values of a business. While the financial world is often driven by fear and greed, Buffett stands firm in his investing values. He believes that investing in stocks is like investing directly in the business. If the business can be profitable in the long run, so will its stock.
In an age of so many new management theories and techniques, we should remember the fundamental leadership principles of vision, character and discipline. While new theories and tools can come and go, principles that govern leadership will forever remain the same.
2. Live simply
Although he is one of the richest men in the world, Buffett lives simply. He only owns a single telephone in his house, and cycles to and from work.
Many leaders nowadays are distracted by the material possessions they can have as leaders, so much so that their motivation can become clouded. Is this leader in it because he believes in the cause? Or does he merely wants to stand out from others; to be recognized and enjoy the status of being a leader?
Buffett demonstrates humility through his frugal spending. Instead of becoming complacent or distracted by riches, Buffett is very clear that his objective is to accumulate wealth; not squander it.
3. Give back
Buffett has committed to give away 99% of his wealth to charity through the Gates Foundation. If his focus on wealth accumulation is admirable, then giving the majority of it away is an even greater feat.
The leaders who leave an impact in the world view material wealth not as an end in itself, but a means to affect positive change in the community. Even as you strive for success for your team or organization, consider how you can give back and contribute to the world, and make a difference in the lives of others.
Books about Warren Buffet
One of the rare instances where the legendary Warren Buffett actually cooperated with the writer to create an intimate and direct book, The Snowball will take you deeper into the story of Buffett’s evolution and remarkable achievements. This complete biography is full of essential insights into the work and life of Warren Buffett.
The closest thing you can get to Warren Buffett writing a book about himself would be the unparalleled compilation of his thoughts, gathered and organized by Lawrence Cunningham. The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons For Corporate America is the best taste of philosophy behind the great Warren Buffett.
Whether you are just starting out in the investment business, or you have been in the game for a while, these essential lessons by one of the most iconic names in the market will push you to another level. The Warren Buffett Way reveals some of the crucial moments which paved the way for the most famous and successful investor in history.
Quotes from Warren Buffet
Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.
Of the billionaires I have known, money just brings out the basic traits in them. If they were jerks before they had money, they are simply jerks with a billion dollars.
Only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years.
Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.
I always knew I was going to be rich. I don’t think I ever doubted it for a minute.
The investor of today does not profit from yesterday’s growth.
We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful.
It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.
Let blockheads read what blockheads wrote.
I don’t look to jump over 7-foot bars: I look around for 1-foot bars that I can step over.
It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.
Rule No.1: Never lose money. Rule No.2: Never forget rule No.1.
Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.
A public-opinion poll is no substitute for thought.
Beware of geeks bearing formulas.
Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.
You only have to do a very few things right in your life so long as you don’t do too many things wrong.
Your premium brand had better be delivering something special, or it’s not going to get the business.
Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.
Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.
The business schools reward difficult complex behavior more than simple behavior, but simple behavior is more effective.
You do things when the opportunities come along. I’ve had periods in my life when I’ve had a bundle of ideas come along, and I’ve had long dry spells. If I get an idea next week, I’ll do something. If not, I won’t do a damn thing.
When you combine ignorance and leverage, you get some pretty interesting results.
It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.
Warren Buffet Leadership Video
Warren Buffet speaks to a group of MBA students:
More Business Leader Profiles
For leadership profiles of other famous business leaders, including Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, and Warren Buffett, check out our Business Leadership Profiles section. Also check out our Leadership Profiles book series. In each book, we study 10 influential leaders in Business, Military, Politics and Sports.