As of this moment, Warren Buffet is the richest man in America, surpassing even Bill Gates at a whopping estimated net worth of $62 BILLION dollars. His company, Berkshire Hathaway is currently trading at 113,000 with a market cap of over $175B. He makes Dr. Evil look like a lemonade stand. I wanted to read more about this enigmatic investor from Omaha who is an anomaly by any stretch of the word. Frugal and thrifty doesn’t even begin to describe him. He lives in a small 3 bedroom house he bought over 50 years ago. His car at the moment is a 2001 Lincoln Town Car. He likes hamburgers and Cherry Coke. I wanted to know more about this man. This book however is a biography and in no shape or way did Warren Buffet had anything to do with it. In fact, he told the author when he wanted to write about Warren that he was not going to give him anything.
This book starts off in his early years, covering his family life, his relatives, siblings and their relationship. Even as a child, Warren’s fascination with numbers and his comfort in consistency were apparent. He enjoyed the accumulation of money and did not enjoy parting with it any more than he enjoyed parting with any aspect of his life. Warren was a hard worker even early in life. I think that exemplifies what makes him so great. It was never about luck of fortune with him. It was just honest hard work and an in depth knowledge of the facts he needed to know about what he was interested in. In this case, most of the time it was money and companies. He would be able to regurgitate out the financials of any company he was interested in backwards and forwards. He probably knew more about the companies than the people who ran them. And when the emotional stock market would value great companies that were valued much less than the actual value of the company, he would scoop them up. He’s basically made a living being a bargain hunter of stocks. That’s a gross oversimplification, but it’s the best way I can put it.
This book is chock full of stories of Warren’s life. I especially appreciated learning about his formative years. He started delivering papers at a very young age and took on more and more routes and optimized them so he would make the most money. Before the age of 15, he had 5 delivery routes delivering over 500 papers each morning. In 1945, at age 14, he was earning $175 a month, basically what a young man was earning as a full time wage at the time. In his senior year, he and his buddy Donald Danly invested in a pinball machine that rented out to a barbershop. They expanded their operating adding more barbershops and pinball machines, and soon were making $50/week. Warren was just very entreprenurial from the very beginning.
The book also mentions Bill Graham, Warren’s mentor and his great influence on his investment style – of finding a great value. Bill and Warren were never fad investors but stuck to their guns in long term investment strategies. He prefererred to think of his investments as long term relationships and as such refused to sell much of his holdings. Anybody who didn’t fit his view of investing were discouraged to invest with him.
I won’t say anymore about this book. If you like what you read so far, you definitely should go and get it. I thouroughly enjoyed it. I garnered some insight in to the man, learned a great deal about his life, and took away valuable lessons.
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