Sunday, 1 November 2015

25 Life Lessons from Warren Buffett

Discover Life and Success Lessons From The Great Investor

To most people's surprise, this is not simply another dry talk on investing and business. It’s far from it. The great majority of the meeting revolves around lessons in life, relationships, education and career decisions. Ideally you should be a shareholder but there are plenty of other ways to get into the meeting if you’d like. 

Here are 25 life lessons from Warren Buffett :

Lesson 1 : Lose money for the firm and I will be understanding. Lose a shred of reputation and I will be ruthless. 
Money and things can always be replaced and recovered. Reputation cannot. There is no price worth trading down in what others think of you. This is reiterated every year. If ever in doubt, imagine whatever you do will be reported by an informed reporter the following day in your local newspaper for your family, children and closest friends to read. Should make actions a little more obvious. 

Lesson  2 : Choose the best who will have you. 
In other words, marry up! But it doesn't stop at finding a husband or wife. Take this approach with every one of your relationships-business partners, friends, employers, teachers. Time and relationships are precious. Aim high and don’t accept anyone who doesn't make you better. 

Lesson 3 : It’s a mistake to think rationality will always hold up, even in able people. Don't expect even the very best and most considerate of people to do right all the time. It’s not human. When it happens, deal with it as you would hope someone would deal with you when in the wrong. Buffett regarded someone who had just done him wrong. It takes a special man to see the full picture.

Lesson 4 : You can always tell a man to go to hell tomorrow if it turns out to be such a good idea. 
Why risk being distasteful today if you don’t have to? I bet there's a better way to handle it. Do your best to avoid making decisions when angry. 

Lesson 5 : Don't worry about the fact that you’re going to fail. 
If you're not failing here and there, you’re likely not giving the world all you have. It’s going to happen. Allow it to make you better. 

Lesson 6 : You can be cheerful even if things are deteriorating.
It's on you to find the things that inspire and motivate you. Warren is about as rationally optimistic as they come. He recalls how he was born in the heart of the Great Depression. Keep your focus where it belongs. This generally means seeing the big long-term picture, not just what's in front of your face. As in investing is in life.

Lesson 7 : The best defence in a tough economy is to add the most you can to society. Your money can be inflated away but your knowledge and talent cannot. 
No matter the external circumstances, you are always in control of your talent, learning and passion for life. “There will always be opportunities for talent” as Warren says.

Lesson 8 : We get worried when people start to agree with us. 
The best fruit is found out on the limbs. The road less travelled makes all the difference. Make a rule to always stay on the side of the minority in your life's path and you will likely be greatly rewarded and you'll certainly experience a lot more excitement.

Lesson 9 : When you are exceptional you jump off the page. 
There really isn't that much competition there. 
Be your own best competitive advantage. Then it doesn't make a difference what others are doing. You are in control. 

Lesson 10 : Do what you're passionate about. 
If you do this, there will be few people competing or running faster than you. 
The best way to be exceptional is with passion! As Tony Robbins says every day of his life, “Live with Passion!” And trust me, life is a lot more fun this way. 

Lesson 11 : Own a business that requires very little capital to grow.  
A business that requires very little money to grow is better than one that requires a ton. Simple enough right? But very few companies end up qualifying. Imagine what would be involved in Walmart doubling their current store base from 9,000 to 18,000? It's a fantastic business, but talk about a headache. Stick with simple businesses that don't cost much to run. You'll have a lot more hair ten years from now.

Lesson 12 : Don't be in a hurry. 
Whether you're starting a business or learning a new skill, you never want to be in too big of a rush. You may miss something important and you'll surely miss some of the fun. Entrepreneurs are notorious for this (I know I am). Always wanting to get to the next spot. Goals and milestones are great but they are not meant to wish away today. Remember to slow down.

Lesson 13 : Conduct yourself in life so other people trust you. 
It helps even more if they're right to trust you.
It's a simple process. Do one then the other. No other asset is more powerful than others having unconditional trust in you. Takes a lifetime to build and an instant to erase.

Lesson 14 : Think about how you want to be remembered. Act accordingly. 
For Charlie it's “A fortune fairly won and wisely used.” For Warren it's “A teacher”. Possibly the understatement of the year. 

Lesson 15 : Reduced expectations is the best defence an investor has. 
This goes for anything in life. Most anger, disappointment and frustration comes from poorly managed expectations. Charlie jokingly said “I'm big on lowering expectations – that's how I got married, my wife lowered hers.” Expect everything of yourself and nothing of the world and you will always be pleasantly surprised. 

Lesson 16 : The problem with rules is people break them.
The spirit of rules extends beyond them. They are not meant to be danced around. You know when you're doing something you shouldn't. You have to self regulate.

Lesson 17 : We're here to go to bed a little wiser than when we woke up.
Warren reminded us how he spent 4 or 5 years of his life in the Omaha Public Library until he was about 10. Hearing things like this make it a little more obvious why he's where he is. If you enjoy learning it, regard it as important and soak in all you can.

Lesson 18 : It's more fun to create partnerships with people to do meaningful things than try to outsmart other people out of money. 
With most things we work on, there's room for others. Create a community around the success you intend on producing. Share it with others. They'll share back.

Lesson 19 : Don’t give your kids the idea they’re special just because their parents are rich or powerful.
Don't encourage them to outdo their parents in a field their parents are best at. If your child feels entitled to something, you're probably the one at fault, not them. Kids who are very interested in learning will continue working regardless of how rich or privileged they are. 

Lesson 20 : Someone has to be the exemplar of not grabbing all that he can.
Warren's salary is still $100k. Many bankers out of college get paid more. He's also pledged his $40+ billion net worth to charity. He could do anything he wants with his wealth. Anything. He's decided to share it. Don't be greedy just because you can. Don't give back just because it looks good. Do it because it matters. It's all of our job to set an example.

Lesson 21 : Reading fast is a huge advantage.
Do all you can to enhance this skill. Warren didn't know much about speed reading programs but he suggested finding the most effective one out there and taking it. Learn the best techniques young. Tony Robbins did the same thing. Then he read over 700 books on psychology and became the leader in a field he never officially went to school for.

Lesson 22 : Learn to communicate. 
Warren said the best diploma he has is from a Dale Carnegie public speaking course he took in 1951 for $100. The return he's gotten on it is incalculable. How can you not take a course like this with an endorsement like that? The world revolves around personal connection. That starts with communication. Toastmasters is also worth a look. 

Lesson 23 : Send letters to people you respect.
A new investment manager, Todd Combs, was recently hired for Berkshire to help take over when Warren and Charlie are gone. Todd simply wrote him a letter. Few people step out and try to contact people they admire. So many of us assume everyone else is doing it that in reality few people are. Start writing letters and create world-class connections.

Lesson 24 : Never trade something you have and need for something you don’t have and don’t need, even if you really want it. 
We get tempted to buy all kinds of crap hundreds of time a day. As a result much of the western world has ended up in debt and a lot of trouble all for an extra room or two in their house. Most things you think you ‘need’ are actually wants in disguise. Know the difference and don't overextend. This goes as much for debt as it does for relationships and all else. Greed is dangerous. 

Lesson 25 : Continuous learning is absolutely required to have any significant achievement in the world.
Warren and Charlie are some of the best teachers the world has seen. Few people are more open and generous with their life philosophies, successes and failures. They do it all for free. All you have to do is want to listen. It's never too early and it's never too late. All that matters is you start. Warren and Charlie, thank you both for the ongoing education of a lifetime. 

We can all stand to learn and be better people from what they are willing to share. Take these lessons to heart. There will likely not be another Warren for a very long time. Take advantage of the education while you can. Do so and feeling success and fulfilment will come naturally. Thank you Warren. We owe you a great deal.

Quote for the day

“It requires a great deal of boldness, and a great deal of caution, to make a great fortune.” -  Nathan Rothschild