If you work in business or investing, you probably heard of Warren Buffett. In fact, most humans probably know his name considering he is one of the richest men alive. While many want to be Warren Buffett, less know why and it is more than just because he is one of the wealthiest investors in the world so for this round of Praiseworthy Professionals, I will be spotlighting Warren Buffett.
Warren was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1930. Given his father’s career as a stockbroker, Buffett showed an interest in stocks at a young age. It’s rumored that he told his family he’d jump off a building if he wasn’t a millionaire by 30. Needless to say, he was driven buying his first shares at 11 years old.
As a child of the Great Depression, Warren Buffett deeply respected the value of a dollar. He saved money in college by living at the YMCA when he was in college. Buffett’s career began from humble beginnings with his first job as a paperboy (See? Billionaires – they’re just like us) that expanded into selling stamps, beverages, golf balls and magazines along the route. Saving money from his various ventures, he bought a 40-acre farm in Nebraska at 15 that paid his way through college. He started earning his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania before transferring to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and graduating at 19. He then earned a Master Degree from Columbia and attended the New York Institute of Finance.
His investment career took off from there. By 1962 he controlled Berkshire Hathaway and redirected the company away from the textile industry in the years following and toward insurance. In 1990, when Berkshire Hathaway started selling class A shares, Buffett officially became a billionaire. In 2008, he became the richest man in the world.
Lessons & Inspiration
Like any great leader, Buffett experienced his fair share of failures. In the same vein, he’s also comfortable acknowledging when he makes a misstep. As CNBC described, “Unlike some executives who try to pass the blame to an underling, however, Buffett owns his errors and assumes full responsibility when he fails to deliver to shareholders.” I think we learn more from Warren’s response to mishaps than the mishaps themselves. Misfires are a dime a dozen, but few handle it with his grace as exhibited in his letters to shareholders. Humility goes a long way because after all, nobody’s perfect.
Buffett doesn’t just excel in the professional realm. He also led the movement with long-time friends Bill and Melinda Gates in encouraging the elite, predominantly other fellow billionaires, to join their Giving Pledge mission. The signatories agree to put half or more of their fortune towards philanthropic initiatives. Buffett himself has agreed to put more than 99% of his wealth toward charity, already having donated $32 billion.