10 insights from HBO’s 2017 ‘Becoming Warren Buffett’ we hadn’t heard before

HBO released a documentary ‘Becoming Warren Buffett’, on the legendary investor earlier this year. It’s an almost intimate portrait of the most-quoted investor in the world. Worth the 1h 28mins. And summarized below, some of the more insightful  (and less often heard) nuggets providing insight into the man, and not just the investor.

10. On learning from the past:

Decorated his office with framed old newspapers from the local library of days of massive market crashes. He calls it “instructive art” that reminds him and everyone in the building that “in the markets, anything can happen”

9. On the circle of competence:

“Investing is a no-called strike business, which is the best business  to be in. I can look at a 1000 different companies, and I don’t have to be right on every one of them, not even 50 of them. I can pick the ball I hit. The trick in investing is to sit there and watch pitch after pitch go by, and wait for the one right in your sweet spot. And the people who’re yelling “Swing you bum!”, ignore them”

8. On the importance of concentrating on a few things:

Bill and Warren got along well after Bill reluctantly agreed on his mother’s insistence to go meet Warren with Melinda. Shortly after they met, Bill’s dad had them all write down on a piece of paper what they had gained the most from the meeting. Both, without discussion, wrote the word “Focus

7. On reputation and doing the right thing:

In front of a Congressional committee after taking over Salomon Brothers after the scandal, on his message to Salomon employees

“Lose money for the firm, and I will be understanding. Lose a shred of reputation for the firm, and I will be ruthless.”

6. On health:

“Let’s imagine you get to pick out a car of your choice. Any colour. It’ll be tied up with a bow and be at your house tomorrow. But the catch is, What if you could could only get that one car in your lifetime? You’d care very good of that car. Now, you won’t actually get just one car in your lifetime. But you will get only one body and one mind. And it has to last you a lifetime”

5. On civil rights:

“Wait till women discover, they’re the slaves of the world. My sisters were as smart as I was…but they got the message, a million different ways that their future was limited, and I got the message that the sky is the limit…On the flip side, it’s quite encouraging. If you look at what this country (USA) accomplished only using half its talent, just think of the potential for the future.”

4. On doing what matters to you:

Susie Buffett: “Whoever you are in this life, you don’t want to think you wasted a lot of your energy, love, and time on something useless”

3. On marriage:

“When you get married, it’s not a question of saying, I’m going to put a 14% factor on humour, and 17% on intellect, 22% on looks. It doesn’t work that way.”

2. On humility:

“When I was born in 1930, the odds were probably 40:1 against me being born in the United States. I did win the ovarian lottery on that first day, and on top of that, I was male. Put that down as another 50/50 shot, and now the odds are 80:1 against being born a male in the United States, and it was enormously important in my whole life. To think that makes me superior to anyone else as a human being, is just…I don’t follow that line of reasoning.”

1. On love:

“It’s a very strange thing, love. You can’t get rid of it. If you try to give it out, you get more back. If you try to hang on to it, you lose it.”

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