I have attended 5 Berkshire and Hathaway shareholders meeting which typically take place in Omaha, Nebraska at the beginning of May. These meetings are also known as the “Woodstock of Capitalism” as they attract between 30 to 40 thousand attendees every year. The shareholders meetings are chaired by the two billionaires Warren Buffet and Charlie Monger. They are each worth roughly $100 billion. The two financiers are respectively 92 and 98 years old and they have not lost the mental fitness that has allowed them to build a value investing empire.
Here are some of the key lessons that I have learned from attending these meeting since 2015. I am focusing on these lessons that I have also applied into my professional life and that have yielded significant result.
Invest in yourself: This is a topic that emerges every year and that Buffet advises everyone to embrace. You should never stop learning and you should invest in yourself and in your skills every day as this is the best strategy to reach an extraordinary level of performance. When asked what stock to buy, Warren answers “you are the best stock, and you are the stock that will return the biggest results if you continue to invest in it”.
Risk Comes from Not Knowing What You Are Doing: Buffett has time and again advised investors to not chase everything that shines and to only focus on the opportunities that they understand. In other words, Buffett invests and focuses on areas his team knows and stays away from the trendy technology as he does not have enough expertise.
Become more emotional intelligent: Buffett invested in speech performance when he was younger and increased in business and social performance dramatically. He did so by becoming more self and more socially aware. He often advises “if you want to tell someone to go to hell, wait until tomorrow”. In other words, Buffett advises against emotional decision as they often lead to bigger headaches and losses.
Don’t look quarter to quarter: To succeed in life you must develop a commitment plan and not be influenced by what is current. Crises are time to stay focused, manage your resources frugally and save money for the rainy day. Buffet also goes by the philosophy “hold onto your money when money is cheap and spend aggressively when money is expensive”. In 2000 and 2008 financial crisis Buffet was saving billions of dollars in cash to use them when companies come down from the then astronomical valuations to more reasonable prices.
Surround yourself with exceptional leadership: Buffet stands by the motto “you cannot make a good deal with a bad person”. As he got older Buffet advised everyone to work with people you like and that make you a better person. Most importantly he stressed that we should all select partners of high integrity, energy, and Intelligence.
Key message: His work and success suggest one key thing: keep it simple, do what you like, and the more you learn the more you earn.
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