Warren Buffett is one of the wealthiest and most respected investors in the world. His sharp entrepreneurial instincts started at a young age and helped him build his own business empire. Now in the prime of his success, he gives back to the community as a philanthropist.
Warren Edward Buffett was born on August 30, 1930, in Omaha, Nebraska. His father, Howard, was a stockbroker and eventually became a US congressman. Growing up, he was well-exposed to his father’s profession and showed strong interest in stocks. He developed an early propensity for financial and business matters.
Buffett’s childhood in Nebraska was largely shaped by the Great Depression. As a young boy, he learned the value of money and lived a frugal life. He made his first investment at the tender age of 11 when he bought three shares of the Cities Service Preferred, then worth $38 a share.
He eventually sold the shares for $40, only to regret the decision afterwards when Cities Service rocketed to around $200 per share. This experience taught him the importance of patience in the world of investment.
At age 13, he started working as a paperboy, delivering Washington Post dailies every morning and afternoon. The next year, he reached his first financial goal of saving $1000. From grade school through high school, he continued to demonstrate his money-making skills.
Apart from being a paperboy, he sold candies, beverages, stamps, golf balls, and magazines. He also worked as an editor of a horseracing tip sheet. He made another investment in the form of pinball machines for a pinball leasing business he started with a friend. Their first clients were their classmates.
The Makings of a Business Magnate
At 15, Warren had saved over $2000 which he used to purchase a 40-acre farm in his hometown and hired a farmer to work on the land. He used the profits to pay for his education although he initially did not plan to attend college.
With much prodding from his father, he went to the University of Nebraska and graduated with a degree in business administration within three years. Warren applied to Harvard Business School but was declined. He then went to Columbia Business School to learn from Benjamin Graham and David Dodd, authors of “The Intelligent Investor”, a book that had a huge impact on him. He earned a Master’s Degree in Economics at the age of 21.
In 1956, Warren went home to Omaha and started his own investment firm, Buffett Partnership. Knowing that he can make enough money from his investments, he had planned to retire although he was only 26 at the time.
Through the influence of his mentors and business partners, he pursued his goal of being a millionaire by the age of 35. His most significant investment happened in 1962 when he bought shares in textile manufacturer Berkshire Hathaway.
Exemplifying his intelligence and expertise, he invested in the struggling company despite having no knowledge about textile manufacturing. Two years later, he acquired chairmanship of Berkshire Hathaway and expanded into other industries. He bought assets in media, particularly in Washington Post, which he used to sell as a boy.
He also invested and became the company director of Coca-Cola, a beverage he sold to his classmates in grade school. Other companies added to the Berkshire Hathaway stable are GEICO (insurance company), Exxon (oil company), Duracell (battery maker), Dairy Queen (restaurant chain), and Kraft Foods Group (food and beverage company).
Warren earned the nickname “Oracle of Omaha” for all his business success. In 2007, he made it to TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. The next year, he was proclaimed the richest person in the world by Forbes, with a net worth of $62 billion.
Philanthropy and Legacy
Despite building unthinkable wealth, Warren has been living a quiet and modest life.
In June 2006, he committed to donate more than 99 percent of his fortune to charity, with most of it to go to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He donated 10 million shares of Berkshire Hathaway worth approximately $31 billion, making it the largest charitable donation in history.
In 2010, he launched “The Giving Pledge” with his friends and fellow-millionaires Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. They vowed to donate at least half of their wealth and encouraged other millionaires to follow suit.
Warren is now well into his eighties but continues to be an inspiration in the world of business and beyond. It has been reported that at least 47 books honoring Warren and his success have been published.
The CEO of Border Books revealed that the only living persons that have the same number of books written about them are former US presidents, world leaders, and the Dalai Lama.
Warren Buffett HBO Documentary
Warren Buffett Quotes
Here are 40 of the most inspiring Warren Buffett quotes:
“Investors should remember that excitement and expenses are their enemies. And if they insist on trying to time their participation in equities, they should try to be fearful when others are greedy and greedy only when others are fearful.” – Warren Buffett
“Long ago, Ben Graham taught me that ‘Price is what you pay; value is what you get.’ Whether we’re talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down.” – Warren Buffett
“We never want to count on the kindness of strangers in order to meet tomorrow’s obligations. When forced to choose, I will not trade even a night’s sleep for the chance of extra profits.” – Warren Buffett
“Time is the friend of the wonderful company, the enemy of the mediocre.” – Warren Buffett
“Successful investing takes time, discipline and patience. No matter how great the talent or effort, some things just take time: You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.” – Warren Buffett
“Buy a stock the way you would buy a house. Understand and like it such that you’d be content to own it in the absence of any market.” – Warren Buffett
“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.” – Warren Buffett
“You only have to do a very few things right in your life so long as you don’t do too many things wrong.” – Warren Buffett
“I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking, and make less impulse decisions than most people in business.” – Warren Buffett
“What an investor needs is the ability to correctly evaluate selected businesses. Note that word ‘selected’: You don’t have to be an expert on every company, or even many. You only have to be able to evaluate companies within your circle of competence. The size of that circle is not very important; knowing its boundaries, however, is vital.” – Warren Buffett