Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Becoming Warren Buffett - The Gates/Buffet Single Answer To Success

I watched the excellent movie Becoming Warren Buffett on HBO.  If you have never read a biography on Warren Buffet, this is well worth watching.  If you don't fall in love with Warren Buffett, you must not have a heart :-)

I love Warren Buffett's quotes and one of my favorites is:  "Bulls and bears do fine and hogs get slaughtered."  Which means, have a plan.

He also restates classics such as:"The Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken."

Having read, The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, and numerous Warren Buffett articles, the movie did not shed a lot of new insight, but there was an interesting Bill Gates and Warren Buffett story which was shared.

The story goes that Bill Gates Warren Buffett were somewhat forced to meet each other. 

"Greenfield — a family friend of the Gateses — was cruising through Seattle with Katharine "Kay" Graham, the Post publisher who presided over Watergate, and Buffett was along for the ride since he was BFFs with Graham and Berkshire Hathaway held a stake in the Post.

The plan was to hang out with Bill Gates Sr., his wife Mary, and that software mogul son of theirs, Bill Gates.

Buffett was nonplussed.

"While we're driving down there, I said, 'What the hell are we going to spend all day doing with these people? How long do we have to stay to be polite?" he tells the Financial Times.

Buffett thought he'd want nothing to do with the younger Gates — computers were like Brussels sprouts to him.

And Gates remembers complaining to his mom about meeting Buffett.

"What were he and I supposed to talk about, P/E ratios?" he recalls in a Fortune column. "I mean, spend all day with a guy who just picks stocks?"

But Gates was excited about meeting Graham — he was intrigued by the Post and its history.

Resigned to his fate, Gate said that he would stay for a few hours to chat with his elders, and then he'd helicopter back to the Microsoft headquarters to crush it at the office.

Then Graham, Greenfield, and Buffett arrived.

After a few introductions, Buffett and Gates started talking about the changes in the newspaper business. Then Buffett started asking Gates about his industry.

"If you were building IBM from scratch, how would it look different?" he asked. "What are the growth businesses for IBM? What has changed for them?"

Then Gates told Buffett to buy two stocks: Intel and Microsoft.

They were immersed in conversation. The bromance was blooming.

In recalling that first meeting, Gates says that he was struck by a few things. First, Buffett "asked good questions and told educational stories." Second, he'd "never met anyone who thought about business in such a clear way." Third, Buffett taught him a fun mental exercise."

What is interesting about the movie is that after Buffett and Gates were friends, they were separately asked to write down the key to being successful in business.  Both of them wrote down the same answer - focus.  I thought that was fascinating and absolutely true.