You are on page 1of 11

Joe Kusnans Blog! Ofce Hours with Warren Buffett!

joekusnan.tumblr.com! May 7, 2013

! !
Levo League! Ofce Hours with Warren Buffett!

! ! ! ! ! !
!

May 7, 2013!

On May 7, 2013, Warren Buffett sat down for an interview with Caroline Ghosn, the Co-Founder of Levo League. ! Levo League is a new organization dedicated to helping young women in the rst phase of their careers." Levo refers to the Latin root of the word elevate. Levo Leagues mission is to eliminate the barriers to success and the income and responsibility disparity that still exists for women in the corporate world." Each week, Levo League has ofce hours with a noted individual who provides career advice, mentorship and answer questions from the live audience. Previous interviewees have included Jacqueline Novogratz, Sheryl Sandberg, Sallie Krawcheck, Gretchen Rubin, Faith Popcorn and Amanda Hesser. These interviews are posted online.! A transcript of Buffetts interview follows:!

Ghosn: Welcome to Ofce Hours. My name is Caroline Ghosn. I'm one of the co-founders and the CEO of Levo League which seeks to elevate women in their professional paths. And I'm here with none other than Warren Buffett, live from Omaha, Nebraska.!

! !

cannot wait to engage in that dialogue here today. We hope that you'll share what you learn on social media and that you'll continue to ask questions here live so we can make full use of this hour that we have with him. Let's get started!!

Thank you so much for joining us. We are so thrilled to have 60 viewing parties around the United States and around the world tuning in. Students, young professionals, all of you who are watching on everything from Youtube to Fast Company. We are so thrilled to have you and we are so thrilled to take this next step in democratizing mentorship here today.! It's really incredible what we can do with technology. The fact that we're having this conversation. We're going to be interacting with you. I have your questions in a live Twitter stream on my iPad from Omaha, and we will be listening to what you want to hear Mr. Buffett talk about. We will be interacting today and we'll be hearing the conversation on Twitter at #ofcehours and #warrenbuffett. So please make sure to tune in and join the discussion that's happening.!

! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

Buffett: Let's do it!! Ghosn: Without further ado, let's get started! So, Warren, it's been a pretty big week for you.! Buffett: Yeah. Been pretty busy.! [Laughter]! Ghosn: So, you've joined Twitter, you've just nished your shareholders meeting, and you've recently joined Levo League.! Buffett: I nally came out of my shell.! Ghosn: Yeah.! [Laughter]! Ghosn: So, my rst question to you is why technology and why now? Why opening up this conversation now?! Buffett: Well, I probably should have done it earlier but actually when I had read - well I have 30, 40 colleges and universities come out every year. I always insist that at least a third of the participants from each school be women. And I get a lot of questions from both men and women about their careers and all sorts of things.

! !

It is such an honor to be here with Warren today. He, as you know, is one of the best known investors and entrepreneurs of our time. And he is currently the Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Incorporated. Recently he made headlines for being bullish on a surprising new investment, women. And that's part of what we're here to talk about today.! So, he wrote in Fortune last week that we've seen what can be accomplished with 50% of the population, imagine what can be accomplished with 100%. And we

Page #1 of 11 #

Joe Kusnans Blog! Ofce Hours with Warren Buffett!

joekusnan.tumblr.com! May 7, 2013

So I had really talked about with these students what I wrote about in Fortune last week.!

But I read the galleys of, 'Lean In' by Sheryl Sandberg and I just wrote down a few ideas that I had. I sent it to her. I thought it might work as a forward for that. It was things I'd been thinking about for years. It didn't work as a forward there but I decided that it really was time to speak out on this. So I sent it in to Fortune and they ran it. Then the social network type stuff, which I'm back in the 19th Century normally, but it was a means of getting it more broadly distributed. it seems to work very well.!

And imagine if we said that all the males under 5 foot 10 could only work in three occupations. It would be crazy wouldn't it? But it just is nutty in my view to say that half of the population because they are female. I mean, the talent is there but society just said, you know, if you want to be a teacher, ne. If you want to be a nurse, ne. If you want to be a secretary, ne, but forget everything else.!

! ! !

Ghosn: Absolutely. And we're thrilled that you're on Twitter and joining Levo League. Thank you.! Buffett: Yeah the 20th Century isnt so bad, maybe I'll get to the 21st one of these days.! Ghosn: Before we get into these questions, just you've really experienced over the course of your lifetime, such a transition from women having one specic role in society and even technology having one specic role in society, to where we are today. Do you want to just paint a picture; give a little bit of color to what the world was like when you were growing up and what it's like today and some of the things that you've seen change?!

So, I have seen that change in my lifetime. Although change was slow. I mean, we had the 19th Amendment passed in 1920 and as I point out in my article the next 33 appointments to the Supreme Court were men and the odds of that being by chance were eight billion to one. Now part of that was just inertia and part of it was that attitudes dropped slowly. But part of it was that was men liked it the way it was.!

! ! !

But it has changed a lot for the better. There's still important ways to go, but my business class at Columbia in 1950 had one woman, and you know, it was just a joke. That's changing but I also said I've seen this with males too, but I've seen very, very bright women. I use the example of Katherine Graham who was outstanding.! Ghosn: Yes.! Buffett: While she was CEO of the Washington Post the stock went up 40 for 1. She won a Pulitzer Prize. but she'd been told by her mother, she'd told by her husband, she had been told by lots of people that women weren't as good as men in business. It was nonsense and I kept telling her quit looking at that funhouse mirror. Here's a real mirror, you're something. And as smart as she was, as high grade as she was, as famous as she became, right to her dying day she had that little voice inside her which kept repeating what her mother told her a long time ago. So, everybody should get a chance to live up to their potential. Women should not hold themselves back and nobody should hold themselves back. That's my message.!

Buffett: Yeah, it's really true Caroline. I was born in 1930. I had an older sister Doris, a few years older and a younger sister Birdie, a couple years younger. And they're absolutely as smart as I am, probably a little smarter and much more personable. They got a long better in the world and all of that. My parents - our parents loved us all equally. They never told my sisters you can't do this or you can't do that verbally, but every message they got from society, from their teachers in every way was that their job was to marry well and if they insisted on working that they could be a secretary or nurse or a teacher. And essentially they were telling me, again silently in many ways that the sky was the limit.!

So we would go to school and we would get similar grades. They would be very popular. I mean, they had everything going for them except for the fact that they were women. And here in 1776 we said, you know, these truths are self-evident that all men are created equal. Well they must have had their ngers crossed because the Constitution came up. It was drafted eleven years later and it used a whole bunch of male pronouns and Article 2 describing the presidency and we went for decade after decade after decade not using women.!

Ghosn: I love that and it's so interesting because we recently had an Ofce Hours with Sheryl Sandberg as you know. And one of the things that she talked about was this little voice you're referring to. And the fact that for whatever reason women in particular grow up with this voice, and you can call it guilt, you can call it selfdoubt, you can call it whatever you want , but it exists and it doesn't really go away. But I think having these conversations that it is a part of the distortion of reality, it is part of the funhouse mirror. That can help us understand that it is decidedly [??] created and that it's something that we don't have to just accept.!

Buffett: Yeah. Everybody - I mean the potential of humans is - we haven't come close to scratching that

Page #2 of 11 #

Joe Kusnans Blog! Ofce Hours with Warren Buffett!

joekusnan.tumblr.com! May 7, 2013

really. And look what's happened since 1776, most of the time using half our talent. Just imagine what's going to happen when we're gonna go full blast with 100%. And it's incumbent of everybody to try and help people. Particularly if you're in a boss's type position to help the people achieve their potential. And women have every bit the potential men do.!

Ghosn: Can you talk a little bit more about what - so, your call to action is extremely powerful especially given your role as a male leader. Can you talk a little bit more about how two types of men can really engage in supporting women in this transition? The rst type of male is the leader. Right? The CEO of a company, the entrepreneur, the person making hiring decision, the person making board decisions and the person making any sort of personnel related decision. And the second group I'd be really interested in hearing your thoughts on, the second group consists of male peers. Right?!

when I nd somebody that starts and really doesn't realize how good they can be. Kay was like that, Kay Graham. She really didn't - she kept telling herself, she put limitations on herself. She was a superstar. When she wrote her autobiography it was going to win a Pulitzer prize. And she wrote it! And incidentally the person that helped her was a woman. And it is a marvelous book but all the time ghting off that selfdoubt. So, I think you should encourage anybody, male or female to reach their potential. I wouldn't just limit it to females. Anyone you can help to reach their potential you've given a gift that's very, very important.!

! !

! ! ! ! !

Ghosn: That's great. One point I'd like to touch on before we move onto these questions that are lling my screen right now is; Can you give our viewers a sense of what the technology landscape look like when you were growing up? What did you - what did a day in the life of Warren Buffett look like in the rst ten years of your career? And then what does it look like today?! Buffett: Well, I got very interested I was lucky, I found out what I liked doing when I was very young so I got interested in investments. But the way I learned about investments then was to go to the Omaha public library. I read every book on investments buy the time I was eleven. But when I wanted to learn more about specic companies as I became a professional and after I got out of school, was I would mail away for reports and they would take a week to come. I'd mail to the SEC and they would send me these microche typed copies. Today, or if I write my annual report now and I want to look up how many Justices were appointed to the Supreme Court after the 19th Amendment and before Sandra Day O'Connor. I would not have to go to the library and dig around and everything. I can nd it in two minutes now. So, having all this information is just plain wonderful. I'm not very good at it, though so don't give me any quiz about that.!

Buffett: Mm-Hm.! Ghosn: So the people who are rising in the cohort along side their fellow women. Can you talk a little bit about what your recommendations would be to those different types of men and how they could really take your essay as a call to action?! Buffett: Yeah. Well for a leader you have to take away the funhouse mirror and you have to realize that talent is scarce and you'd better take it where you can get it.! Ghosn: Right.! Buffett: It would be silly - well, just go back again to my example with males. Let's just assume that I had some bias against males 5 foot 10 or less or something, I wouldn't hire them. I wouldn't promote them. I mean, that's just plain foolish. And when it comes to boards I can tell you that the women we put on a board they know business, they know people, they know how to make decisions, they understand the ownership, the shareholders or their partners and all. They've got all the qualities that we want. And I would say too it's not a lot of malicious intent or overview, it just became very natural. It just wasn't in the consciousness of a lot of leaders. I think that it's coming along well on that. When you get to peers you always have to wonder in a competitive situation, you wish you only had to half of the people instead of a hundred percent of the people.!

! !

[Laughter]! Ghosn: I'm not. We're getting there. One thing that our users are really curious about is your working style. So, we know anecdotally from some of the people that work with you, you take a lot of care in cultivating your personal relationships. You've had long standing partnerships. You've really invested in the city that you live in, in your home. Tell us a little bit about how your philosophy towards people has developed and how you think about partnerships and relationships.!

! !

[Laughter]! Buffett: I'm not sure how I would do if I were a male and I had two people to compete with and I could get rid of one of them because she was a woman, or one of the guys because he was a redhead or some crazy reason like that. But it is fun, it's enormous fun for me

Buffett: Well Caroline, you know, I run a company that has twenty four people in the home ofce here in Omaha and we have two hundred and eighty thousand people working for us. We probably have fty CEO's that report to me. Well, obviously we can't run anything from headquarters, and I don't want to run

Page #3 of 11 #

Joe Kusnans Blog! Ofce Hours with Warren Buffett!

joekusnan.tumblr.com! May 7, 2013

anything. I do not want to have hundreds of people and have to think about everything that goes with it. So I have delegated like nobody has ever delegated with a company this size. I trust the managers and most of them are already rich.!

We buy their companies for hundreds of millions or billions of dollars. We don't keep contracts with them to keep working. They have to go to work everyday because they want to go to work, not because there's some contract, or because they need the money. So I try to create the conditions that would cause them to really rather be at work than on some yacht someplace which they could easily afford.!

to discuss this obviously in the context of your mentorship relationship with Kay in your essay but could you talk to us a little bit about maybe some of the unsung heroes in your life? Maybe some of the people who've inuenced you or supported you but who haven't been as visible as others that we may have already talked about?!

! ! ! !

Buffett: Well, Caroline, I mean if you tell me who your heroes are I'll tell you how you're going to turn out. It's really important in life to have the right heroes and I've been very lucky that I probably had a dozen or so major heroes and not one has ever let me down. You really want to hang around with people who are better than you are.! [Laughter]! Ghosn: Absolutely.! Buffett: You will move in the direction of the crowd that you associate with. So fortunately I've had these heroes starting with my dad. But my wife - my rst wife, I was a mess when I met her. She did all kinds of things for me. I mean I'm not kidding. I would be an entirely different person if I hadn't married well. It's very important to marry well. I had this wonderful teacher, Ben Graham. I've had other teachers like my friend Tom Murphy that's on the board of Berkshire; Joe Rosenfeld in Des Moines. But you mentioned me being a mentor to Kay. Kay was a mentor to me too. I mean she taught me a lot. If you get to associate with people who are really rst class people, that's a real benet and you should aspire to do that. You want to have the right heroes.!

And I say to myself, how do you get people that don't need to work, to work? Well, you give them something that they love to work on. I don't need to work but I jump out of bed every morning, I'm excited to come to the ofce because I think I'm painting this painting, which is Berkshire Hathaway and the canvas is of unlimited size. And I get to paint and I get to paint the way I want to paint. And I feel the same thing works for our managers. And every now and then you have a disappointment but overwhelmingly if you put trust in the equation with people that have already showed that they have a lot of ability running their business, there's real trust. And they don't report to committees or headquarters or do anything like that. We've never have a committee meeting. We don't have any committees so how could we have them?!

! !

[Laughter]! And admittedly those people do a good job and then they deserve appreciation when they do it. I like applause and if I like applause then I'm sure they like applause. And what they really like is intelligent applause from a real critic, and they get that when they get that from me. And in terms of people I'm working with, my partner is a fellow named Charlie Munger in Los Angeles. We started working together 54 years ago. We are very strong minded. We often disagree. We have never in our lives had an argument with each other and we never will. It just doesn't happen. He's a wonderful partner. He always gives me credit for more than I'm doing. If he has an idea and it's a good one he says it's my idea and if it's a bad one he says it's his idea. Hes just a perfect partner. And totally we challenge each other in all of that but it's a lot more fun accomplishing things in life with a partner frankly than by yourself.!

! ! ! !

Ghosn: Absolutely. We started to talk a little bit about lifestyle in the sense that you talk a lot about the fact that some of the CEO's that you manage, they could be sitting on a yacht somewhere...! Buffett: Sure. They can do anything they want. Yeah.! Ghosn: But instead they're dedicating themselves to growing their canvas, to painting their canvas. What do you really - what is important to you from a work and life integration perspective? This is a big question now right now. [Laughs]! Buffett: Yeah. Well I love painting on my canvas. I'll always love it, I always have loved it. I mean, and you're lucky in life if you can nd your passion. I tell the students, you know, you may have to take a job or two, you've got to eat. But never give up searching for the job that's your passion. Try to nd the job that you would have if you were independently rich. That's the job I have. And when you nd that job, the job that causes you to be excited every day and forget about the

Ghosn: And that gets to the whole context of community building and one of the big messages that we really advocate for Levo is the importance of creating a community around you of mentors and of peers who help you succeed. Help you along that path. Can you tell us a little bit about - you know you started

Page #4 of 11 #

Joe Kusnans Blog! Ofce Hours with Warren Buffett!

joekusnan.tumblr.com! May 7, 2013

pay, and where you associate with people you love doing what you love, it doesn't get any better than that.!

My partner Charlie is 89 and we were talking about that this weekend. You know, I'm 82 and he's 89. We do what we love everyday with people we love. You know, and they seem to like us OK. So how could it be any better? And just cost of living does not equate to standard of living. Standard of living is achieving what you want to achieve and working with people that you love. You don't need that much money.!

asking, can you remember a specic time in your life when you had the most difculty adjusting to your career path? And it sounds like maybe that was your move to Washington, but can you sort of inspire our audience with an example of a time when you may have doubted your career path and how did you move out of that into where you are today?!

Aside - I love to ride around in a private plane, I will totally acknowledge that. Leaving that out, you know, I basically -you know, leaving out taxes and charities and things like that, I could easily live on a hundred thousand dollars a year. And I wouldn't live better if I had eight houses, if I had a 400 foot yacht or anything of the sort. I've been on 400 foot yachts and I've been in a lot of fancy houses.!

Buffett: I really didn't doubt my career path but I was not functioning well. I was OK in some respects but not in other respects. And I was terried for example both in high school and college. I don't know when it started but I became terried of public speaking and I just couldn't do it. I mean so I arranged all of my classes so I never had to do any public speaking. And I got to Columbia and I saw an ad in the paper for a Dale Carnegie course. And I went down, it was sometime in the forties, and I gave the guy a check for $100. And I stopped payment, I lost my nerve.!

But I have a house that I bought 55 years ago. It's warm in the winter; it's cool in the summer. It has everything I wanted, plus it has all kinds of good memories. Like, my kids have good thoughts about it. I can't imagine living any better. I paid thirty one thousand, ve hundred dollars for it. I could pay thirty one million for a house and it wouldn't do for me what this present house does.!

! !

Ghosn: We have a question from Carlton in Philadelphia, and she asks at what moment did you know that you were on the right track? So, when did you identify that you had found that passion? That you were painting the canvas that you wanted to continue painting?! Buffett: Well that's where I was lucky because I did stumble into the fact that my dad owns a small brokerage rm and I would go down on Saturday morning to go to lunch with him, and it was a big deal. But in the morning when he worked, I would read the books there and so I found out very early. And not everybody does that, that's just plain luck when that happens. So, I always knew the path I wanted to follow and I was intellectually OK with it from the start. But I got messed up to some extent when we moved from Omaha to Washington, that I didn't adjust very well and my grades were terrible. All kinds of things. So, I got very off the track and it took a - well my wife basically said she'd just had this little watering can that she sprinkled on me and nally the owers bloomed. But it took a while and I was very fortunate.!

Then I came out, I got out of Columbia when I was 20. I came out to start selling securities in Omaha and I realized I had to be able to get up in front of people. I couldn't go through life this way. So, I saw an ad again in the local paper that there was a Dale Carnegie course being given. I went down and I gave the fellow $100 in cash and I became associated with 30 other people in the class. We couldn't stand up in front of a group and say our own name. I mean, it was pathetic. But that class changed my life in a big way. As a matter of fact they used to give a pencil every week for whoever did the most with what they've learned the previous week. And during that class I proposed to my wife and she accepted. I won the pencil that week.!

! ! ! ! !

Ghosn: Oh wow!! [Laughter]! Buffett: So, it's important - I mean its certain - you've got to be able to communicate in life.! Ghosn: Right.! Buffett: It's enormously important and probably the schools to some extent under-emphasize that. I mean you start going for an MBA and people think it's kind of beneath them to teach you about communication. But if you can't communicate, if you can't talk to other people and get across your ideas or write either, you know, you're giving up your potential. Anybody that's got a career potential of X I guarantee it will be a 150% of X if they really learn how to communicate well. So that was a big part of really succeeding in my career when you really get right down to it. Then I was fortunate enough to pick up a book when I was 19 by a great teacher, Benjamin Graham. And he taught me a

! !

[Laughter]! Ghosn: One of our members is actually asking as a follow up question. This is Casey from Texas. She's

Page #5 of 11 #

Joe Kusnans Blog! Ofce Hours with Warren Buffett!

joekusnan.tumblr.com! May 7, 2013

lot about investments but it was really my dad and my wife that taught me about life.!

Ghosn: So, is your number one - so multiple people including Devon here from Charleston asks, what's the one piece of advice you would you give to a fellow introvert? We talked a little bit before that this about the fact that this is not in our comfort zone as fellow introverts. So would your advice to a fellow introverts be to just confront that fear, go to communication class and to just practice out of the fear?!

give awards to students who are nominated as great teachers, fteen of them every year. A great teacher is a gift. In 'A Man for All Seasons,' somebody comes to Sir Thomas More and says what should I do? And he said, you should become a teacher. And the young man says, why? Nobody will ever know. And the fellow says, Sir Thomas More says, no that's not correct. You'll know, your students will know and God will know. He said, not a bad audience.!

! !

Buffett: You have to do it. I mean I - you have to do it. And the sooner you do it the better. I mean it's so much easier to get the right habits when you're young than work later on. I think they have toast masters clubs, I don't know where they are. To get over a fear of associating with people you've got to go out there and associate. And it's painful, its very painful. When I nished the Dale Carnegie course, now I'm 21. Proposed, got accepted and everything, but I was very worried I would lapse back like I was before. So I went up to the University of Omaha and I said I want to teach. And fortunately they accepted me. So I started teaching a class at night when I was I believe 21, and you've got to do - you've got to force yourself sometimes to do things. And I know it isn't easy because it wasn't easy for me. When I started selling securities, well I was 20 when I started selling securities and I would go out, I used to walk around downtown Omaha and call on people. And there were people that I knew weren't going to be that friendly sometimes. I'd walk around the block three or four times sometimes before going in.!

Ghosn: Not at all. Actually, Danielle from Canton Ohio is asking, what are you currently reading? What's on your bookstand right now?! Buffett: What's on my bookstand - it has about a hundred books piled up. I love to read. I don't read as fast as I used to but I've always loved to read and I like to read biographies. I just read the book, 'The Patriarch', by Joe Kennedy, for example. I love reading biographies. If you get one message from our talk today, read Katherine Grahams personal history. It's a remarkable story. It's about a woman who lived an incredibly interesting life in all these positions. I mean she was seeing a very interesting world from the most interesting perch. And the amazing thing about it, it's totally honest. It's a totally honest book. When I read the galleys from that book, I called her after I read it and I said I've got just two things to say to you Kay. You wrote the book I hoped youd write, and then I said, I'm never going to try to write a book because yours is just too honest. In my book I want to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I am not capable of writing an honest book so you have set a standard I can't beat.!

! ! !

[Laughter]! Ghosn: Work up the nerve to go in there.! Buffett: Absolutely. It's not a bad thing to take a job as a salesperson just to interact with people. I used to sell shirts at JC Penney company. I sold men's shirts, I sold children's clothing. And if you are somewhat introverted like you say you are and I know I am, just getting out there and forcing yourself to get into a situation where you talk to people, most of them don't bite.!

Ghosn: So Katie Larkin-Long from San Francisco, she's actually leading a viewing party at Latham & Watkins right now. She's asked, you know, you've really become a component of female to male and male to female mentorship, and you shared the story about Kay that you wrote about so eloquently and so compassionately. What advice would you give to young women who are seeking male mentors, and what advice would you give to men who are in positions where they would like to help young women succeed as mentees?!

! !

Ghosn: You know, you've been in a teaching role and you've been in a student role, and what would you say - this is a question that we're receiving from Carley. What would you say is one thing that you feel that the American educational system can do a better job of equipping our young people with?! Buffett: Well I guess, I mean the job of teachers is to enable the students to reach their potential. And a great teacher - we've got a program offered for 25 years. We

Buffett: I never really thought - I mean these relationships all just evolved. I didn't set out to be a mentor to anybody, but I had plenty of help. It's amazing - I didn't realize this when I was in school, but it's really amazing how the person who really wants to do a terric job, you know arrives a little early, wants to do some extra work, they jus jump right out. There aren't that many. So, you will be perceived as exceptional and as a worthy person for a superior to spend some extra time with, if you just do something extra all of the time. Don't be ve minutes late, be ve minutes early. All of the Ben Franklin sort of stuff, I mean it seems very elementary, but it's true. It's true.!

Page #6 of 11 #

Joe Kusnans Blog! Ofce Hours with Warren Buffett!

joekusnan.tumblr.com! May 7, 2013

I notice - well, I hired a young women three years ago. We have practically no hiring, we don't hire at Berkshire, I mean very rare. And she just jumped out at me to some extent. She ran something called, Smart Woman Securities, with another woman, and she clearly had her stuff. At rst I couldnt even gure out a job for her. And then she actually came from a farm in Kansas so she started bringing me corn and tomatoes. She knew I liked to eat corn.!

! ! !

[Laughter]! Ghosn; So bring your mentor a snack.! Buffett: Yeah! You got to just in a very nice way sort of push yourself a little bit forward and make it clear that you're worth spending time with. I mean who should you spend your time with? You want to spend it with somebody who's going to get something out of it and you want to enjoy it. So, there are ways to get your hand up and I think actually Sheryl writes that in the book. I mean, actually Tracy told me that when she went to Harvard Business School, the women just didnt raise their hand as often as the men did. I raised my hand all the time, when I didn't even deserve to.!

Buffett: You're going to pick the person that has the right habits. That is cheerful, generous, gives other people credit for what they do. And when you look at all of the qualities that you admire in other people which would cause you to pick that person, say to yourself which of those qualities can I have myself? Because you determine whether you have them. So just write them down on a piece of paper. Who is the person that you admire the most or like the best? Why do I like them? And just write down and then say, which of these can I do myself? And the truth is you can do them.!

And then also if you really want to carry it to an extreme, you pick the person you dislike the most. Why do you dislike that person? They're never fair about things basically, they always claim more credit than their due and everything. Write down those qualities, and say if you didn't like that in some other person, why in the world would you want to have those yourself? So just get rid of those. It's a pretty simple thing to do. But you want to be the person that if you could pick your best friend, that you would have the same qualities.!

! ! ! !

! !

So, you want to get over the idea, as I wrote in the article. The males - there's a lot of Wizard of Oz in us. You get behind the curtain and you'll nd out that it isn't quite that imposing.! [Laughter]! Ghosn: So Ari from Atlanta is asking, so what other habits did you cultivate? So you're talking about this woman who you hired who really set out to impress you in her twenties, in her thirties. What other habits did you cultivate in your twenties and your thirties that you now see as being foundational to your success as a business person?! Buffett: Well I knew a lot about what I do when I was twenty. I mean I really read a lot and I aspired to learn everything that I could about the subject. So intellectually knew a lot. I did not know a lot about human behavior. I mean that you cant learn really out of reading books, but it's very important to understand people. I said to the students just imagine that you could buy or you could be given ten percent of the future earnings of one person that you know among everybody that you know. Now are you going to pick the person that's the smartest? Are you going to pick the person that can dance the best or that can run the fastest or anything like that?!

Ghosn: Wow. I think that's a new approach to this concept of professional development that I'm sure our members are really enjoying right now. One question...! Buffett: You can't change your IQ. You can't change how high you can jump or all those things. But if you look around the world at the people that succeed and the people other people want to work with, the natural leaders, it isn't because they have the highest IQ or they can kick a football the furthest or anything like that. They're people that you want to work with. I mean, I've got a wonderful friend named Tom Murphy, I would do anything for him. He's never gonna ask me to do it, but I want to do it. He's done so many things for me. And he doesnt have to pay me to do it or anything of the sort. That's what you want. You want to look for that and you want to be that.!

! ! ! ! !

Ghosn: Who is one person who you have met recently whose really impressed you and what about them has really stuck out to you?! Buffett: Well, it's interesting. I'm going to meet Chelsea Clinton in about a week and I bet after I meet her I can give you that answer.! [Laughter]! Ghosn: We'll predict that it's Chelsea!! Buffett: Yeah, I'll predict that. That's a good question. Obviously I've hired now these three people in the

! !

Ghosn: That's the right height or has the right hair color.!

Page #7 of 11 #

Joe Kusnans Blog! Ofce Hours with Warren Buffett!

joekusnan.tumblr.com! May 7, 2013

ofce and they must have really impressed me because we don't do that.!

! ! ! ! ! !

week and I have so much fun doing that. I can arrange a game in 30 seconds and it used to be you had to call people and get them together. It's a wonderful world.!

Ghosn: You don't do that?! Buffett: No, no.! Ghosn: And one fun question thats come from Twitter, If you could pick one person, living or not, to have dinner with tomorrow, who would you choose and why?! Buffett: Well it would be my dad and my wife. Yep.! Ghosn: That's great. All right, so we're going to move to a little more of a discussion around leadership, success and entrepreneurship. So, Erin from Los Angeles is asking, what are you most concerned about and what are you most excited about for future generations of young people as they ascend into the professional world?! Buffett: Well the future is terric. I mean I would love to be a child being born today, particularly in the United states. It's so much better. I mean just think how much better it would have been for my sisters if they'd been born today or been born ten years ago instead of being born around 1930. So the potential is absolutely terric. The only thing really to worry about is you have to worry about economic things in this country. This country is going to move forward just like it always has. In my lifetime the real GDP per capita has gone up six to one. There's nothing like that in the history of the world.!

! !

Ghosn: Who is your favorite bridge partner?! Buffett: My favorite bridge partner is Sharon Osberg who lives in San Francisco. She's a two-times world champ and I'm two-times world chump. But we have a lot of fun together playing and she's been great. We started playing together 20 years ago. It's because of the computer we can play together obviously if she's in San Francisco. Bridge is a partnership game. Its almost like dancing intellectually because you really have to be in tune with the person you're playing with and you have to bring out the best in them and they have to bring out the best in you. And not all couples achieve that. Sharon and I like to play against married couples sometimes. When they get mad at each other they stay mad and they do foolish things.!

! ! ! ! ! ! !

[Laughter]! Ghosn: So my parents have been trying to convince me to learn bridge for about 25 years. So I am now ofcially converted. If Warren Buffett thinks that bridge is a valuable intellectual exercise and partnership exercise, done, I will commit to playing bridge.! Buffett: Terric. You will be good too.! Ghosn: Good, and I will return to Omaha and challenge you.! Buffett: Good! Good. I'm not gonna play you for money, you look tough.! Ghosn: So people are reacting so quickly. So Shocker from New York just asked, speaking of habits and games like bridge, what other daily habits do you have and which ones do you nd to be the most rewarding?! Buffett: Well, I am really a creature of habit but I read probably ve or six hours a day. I just like to read. A lot of it ties into the business I do but I enjoy it. I wouldn't be doing it otherwise. If I'd rather be out on my yacht or off playing golf all the time I'd do that. But I just love getting more information and I like building Berkshire, it is my canvas. So I spend a lot of time doing that. I play some bridge, I talk to my friends and I pretty much don't do anything I don't like to do.!

We have to worry and really it has to be done to our leaders, but about nuclear chemicals and biological. The spread of the knowledge of that into the hands of people that wish evil on their neighbor one way or another. Because the ability to inict harm on others has increased exponentially since the Atom bomb in 1945. And there are a lot of psychotics and sociopaths and people out there. If you go back a few thousand years all you could do was throw a stone at the guy in the next cage, now you can do a lot of damage. So that's the cloud always on the horizon. But other than - in the economic sphere, medicine, education, all kinds of things, we've just started.!

! !

Ghosn: Absolutely. We talk a lot about the fact that we are very fortunate to have been be alive during this period of complete information transformation and technological transformation and you know...! Buffett: It's unbelievable. In the last 15 or 20 years, I mean the things I can do now that I couldn't do 15 or 20 years ago. It's incredible. Just in gathering information but also I play bridge on the computer a dozen hors a

! !

[ Laughter]! Buffett: I'm very fortunate in that. I really don't have to do almost anything. I would not like to be president of certain organizations because there's so many obligatory duties, you know, lots of speeches or

Page #8 of 11 #

Joe Kusnans Blog! Ofce Hours with Warren Buffett!

joekusnan.tumblr.com! May 7, 2013

something of that sort. I am pretty much in command of my own time and you could say, well, that's kind of a crazy way of spending it, but I have a lot of fun doing it.!

promising you it gets easier, but just keep doing it. Otherwise other people will be running your life.!

Ghosn: One question that we received from Twitter is around the cultivation of time. Learning how to say no is equally important to learning how to say yes when managing your own time and your life. Can you help us understand how to cultivate that mindset of being comfortable saying no, being comfortable delegating? This is something that we found with our members is especially difcult for young women.!

Ghosn: So you referred to hiring and ring and just kind of going back to some of the more important discussions that have to happen in the context of an effective business. Shannon in particular from Florida is asking, what tips do you have on how to really negotiate your worth in the workplace? Whether it's to negotiate your salary - we had equal pay day recently. And that's something that we really worked to teach our members how to do. What advice do you have?!

! ! ! ! ! !

Buffett: It's tough.! Ghosn: And we'd love to just hear your take on that and maybe any advice you have to share about that.! Buffett: I met Bill Gates back in 1991 and when I did it, we had a great time talking. He thought he was gonna hate it and I wasn't too keen on it either, and about ten hours later we were still talking. But what really got him was when I pulled out this little date book. I'm probably the only guy in the United States with one of these still.! Ghosn: Oh no. I have one over there.! [Laughter]! Buffett: I just ipped through it and there's practically nothing in it and Bill was really impressed by that. You've got to keep control of your time man. And you won't keep control of your time unless you can say no. You can't let other people set your agenda in life. And of course I know Im in a very fortunate position on that, but in another way I'm not so fortunate because more people ask me for things. And they're usually friends. And they say well can't you just make this one talk or attend this one graduation or whatever it may be. You've got to, you just have to develop the ability t o say no and do it a few times. If a woman can't say no she's in trouble, right?!

Buffett: That was one of the interesting things cause in Sheryls book she talked about when she went home and was going to take the rst offer someplace and her husband told her you're crazy to take the rst offer, you ought to negotiate. I've actually had a little different experience in life. I wanted to work for my hero, Ben Graham, after I got out of school, and he said no. I came out here and worked for a few years. In 1954 he said, Warren next time you're in New York I'd like to talk to you and I sort of gured it was going to be a job opportunity so I was there the next day practically. And he said, yeah, we'd like you to come to work for us. I never asked the salary. I just took the job. I mean I knew he was going to be a fair person. I did not know my salary until I got my rst paycheck. We moved to New York with a baby and one on the way and I'd gotten an apartment and I found out what I was earning at the end of that time. I don't really - I do very little negotiating with people and they do little with me in terms of it.!

! !

Ghosn: Right. And is it something that becomes easier over time, or how did you...?! Buffett: I don't think it's a lot easier; no. There's a few things that are just uncomfortable in life. The thing I dislike the most - the only thing I dislike in connection to my job is if I have to re somebody. That does not get easier for me as life has gone on, and saying no is not like ring people but it's got a little bit of the same aspect to it. It's not easy to say no particularly to a friend. But I will have every day three or ve requests to do something and I can't do them all. But I'm not

Sheryl said - and maybe if I was a woman it would be different because they might be treating me unfairly. But I don't think when you nd out who you want to work for and what you want to do, I don't believe in negotiating much. But like I said, if I was a woman and I thought I was getting paid considerably less than an equal who was coming in, that would bother me a lot. I probably wouldn't even want to work there. I mean I'd probably want to - if somebody is going to be unfair with you in salary, they're probably going to be unfair with you in a hundred other ways. So I disagree a little bit with Sheryl on that.!

! ! !

Ghosn: Right. We have about ten minutes left so I'm going to give you about two or three more questions from our audience here.! Buffett: OK. Great.! Ghosn: We have a question here from a young lady named Nancy, who is writing to us from entrepreneur magazine. She has a question about entrepreneurship and obviously your path is a very successful entrepreneur. She would like to know if success is

Page #9 of 11 #

Joe Kusnans Blog! Ofce Hours with Warren Buffett!

joekusnan.tumblr.com! May 7, 2013

contingent on a good plan, excellent education and execution and driven mindset, what do you think makes businesses fall apart when al of these factors have been met?!

! ! !

Buffett: Some businesses are just tough. I mean a signicant percentage of the restaurants that open up this year are going to fail. There are a lot of tough businesses. I've always aid if you want to be regarded as a great business person, nd a great business.! [Laughter]! Buffett: There's a huge difference - I mean it does make a difference. I use this analogy. When I got out of Columbia one of my best friends was a terric talent and he went to work in the steel business. He did OK, but it was the wrong business to be in. It's very important to be on the right train. you want to get on a train that's going 90 miles an hour and not one that's going 30 miles an hour and you're gonna push it along a little faster. So it really does make a huge difference. There are some businesses that are inherently far more opportunity than others. So you want to give a lot of thought to which train you're getting on.!

things. You're going to have some human relationships that don't work out. Apparently a signicant number of people get divorced and that's a very big decision to have turn out badly. I think if you study almost everybody, and read Kay's book, 'Personal History', and you'll - everybody fails at some things. Particularly when you're younger. You do have less experience in evaluating humans and just knowing about whatever, maybe businesses. But it is not failing.!

I mean, If you're healthy and particularly living in this country there's going to be an opportunity that comes along. I got turned down for the Harvard Business School when I got on at the University of Nebraska. And I remember I went to Chicago to get interviewed, this is when you traveled on the train. So I spent ten hours going there and this fellow looked at me and in about ten minutes said forget it.!

I owned a half interest when I was, I don't know, 21, 22, in a service station. Sinclair service station, with a pal of mine. It was a lousy business. We had a guy right next to us and he kept selling more gallons of gas than we did. He would cut our prices and everything. I don't care if you're a combination of Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison and everyone else; you're not going to succeed if you have a guy selling gas below cost next to you. It's important to get on the right train. You really want to go to work for somebody you admire or a business you admire, you're going to do so much better.!

! ! ! !

Ghosn: Oh wow.! Buffett: Now I got to go back on the train ten hours thinking what am I going to tell my dad.! Ghosn: Oh no. Think about it.! Buffett: My dad always told me I could do anything. Now I've just gotten turned down. But it turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me because then I went to Columbia where Ben Graham was. In fact it might probably even affected who I married because I took a one year course at Columbia instead of a two years at Harvard and she might have found some other guy in all that time.!

If I had gone to work for my friend Tom Murphy, it would have worked. Who knows what the rst job would have been or the second job but I would be learning every day from him. Not only the mechanics of a business, I would be learning how to work with people. He would raise my sights. So you really want to be working for somebody you admire. If you're working for somebody who causes your stomach to turn, maybe you have to keep doing it to keep eating for a while but don't settle for it.!

Almost everything in my life that looked like a failure has usually turned into a success. The world isn't over. If you have bad luck in health, that's tough. There's just no getting away - I've been lucky on that. But the other kind of things, if you're healthy, if you're bright and you've got decades ahead of you. If something goes wrong, if you nd yourself working for the wrong employer and they're doing things you don't approve of or they're not treating you fairly, the world isn't over yet. You just go out and nd somebody else.!

! ! !

! !

Ghosn: OK. You talked a little bit about your experiment with the station. We have a question from Ishmael from Fresh Meadows and he's asking how do you deal with failure and what is your advice to young entrepreneurs like me in this case, especially with regards to failure and how to approach it?! Buffett: If you fail you really do dust yourself off and get right back in. I mean, you're going to fail at some

Ghosn: Well thank you so much. On that inspirational note what's the one piece of advice that youd like to share with our members that are in the rst ten years of their careers?! Buffett: Just nd your passion and remember those males around you, a lot of them have got a lot of the Wizard of Oz in them.! Ghosn: Well thank you so much for spending the time to sit with me and really answering questions from the community. As you can see these questions keep

Page #10 of 11 #

Joe Kusnans Blog! Ofce Hours with Warren Buffett!

joekusnan.tumblr.com! May 7, 2013

coming in, we're not going to be able to get to all of them. But for those of you that are watching Mr. Buffett is kind enough to continue answering questions on his Levo prole in the future. So if you didn't get your question answered today, fear not, there is still an opportunity. We hope that you really beneted from this conversation, that you learned a lot. I certainly have sitting here. And tune in to this short video to understand how you can ask mentors questions. Thank you so much.!

! !

Buffett: And thank you Caroline.! Ghosn: Thank you.!

Page #11 of #11