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Warren Buffet On Life (1 Viewer)

Joe Bryant

Guide
Staff member
Warren Buffett On Life

Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett is rarely wrong, especially when it comes to investment and innovation. As most of us know, the Oracle of Omaha is also a sage imparting wisdom that transcends industries and generations and cultures.

And that wisdom, however common-sensical (ever thought to yourself, "Wait, I could've said that myself!"), is usually spot-on. Like this hard-hitting bit of truth telling:

If you get to my age in life and nobody thinks well of you, I don't care how big your bank account is, your life is a disaster.

That's what Buffett once told a group of students at Georgia Tech when they asked him about his definition of success. Let me expand on why success doesn't come from wealth, power, fame, or how many expensive toys you own before you die.

Buffett's measure for success in one word: love

As part of that same quote above, which was captured in the Buffett biography The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder, Buffett also dropped this slice of profundity on the students (prepare to drop your jaw):

Basically, when you get to my age, you'll really measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you.

I know many people who have a lot of money, and they get testimonial dinners and they get hospital wings named after them. But the truth is that nobody in the world loves them. 

That's the ultimate test of how you have lived your life. The trouble with love is that you can't buy it. You can buy sex. You can buy testimonial dinners. But the only way to get love is to be lovable. It's very irritating if you have a lot of money. You'd like to think you could write a check: I'll buy a million dollars' worth of love. But it doesn't work that way. The more you give love away, the more you get.

So let me get this straight: The most important lesson and "the ultimate test" of a life well-lived has nothing to do with money and everything to do with the most powerful emotion a human being can feel: love. 

You betcha. 

As the third richest person in the world and nearing 90 years of age, Buffett has lived and continues to live what he preaches with his commitment to philanthropy, like the Giving Pledge, which invites the richest people on the planet to pledge a big chunk of their wealth to charitable causes.

Closer to home, you have to wonder: How can regular working people, leaders, managers, and entrepreneurs with big ideas live out this principle of "the more love you give away, the more you get back"? To put it another way, what should you do to become so beloved by others that, when you're ready to hang it up, they'll lavish you with praise, accolades, admiration, and tell the world, "He loved well"?

I posit that there are a few ways--albeit totally counterintuitive ways--that you can put this practical kind of love into motion, if you are daring and courageous:

1. Think and act selflessly without expecting anything in return.

The laws of love are reciprocal, but someone must make the first move -- why not let it be you? When we choose to love someone first--whether it be lifting up a colleague with encouragement, helping develop an employee under your leadership care, or infusing deep meaning and purpose into someone's work role, love comes back in full force through respect, admiration, trust, loyalty, commitment, and discretionary effort.

2. Choose a culture of love.

Buffett said, "I love every day. I mean, I tap dance in here and work with nothing but people I like. There is no job in the world that is more fun than running Berkshire, and I count myself lucky to be where I am."

Work can be a grind, political, and filled with toxic personalities, but the best brands on the planet (and maybe your own company) are places where people love coming to work because leaders display practical love (with results) and the culture is positive and uplifting.

Whatever cliché you prefer -- "culture is king" or "culture eats strategy for breakfast" -- the evidence is clear: When you share the same values, ethical behaviors, beliefs, and norms in a psychologically safe environment, every individual contributor is uniquely positioned to give and receive love without fear of retribution. This leads to a high-performing company that will attract other, like-minded people.

3. Work the "Platinum Rule."

We're all familiar with the universal Golden Rule: "Treat others as you would like to be treated." But the Platinum Rule takes it up to a whole new level of loving well: "Treat others the way they want to be treated."

Dave Kerpen, author of The Art of People, says this about the Platinum Rule:

The Golden Rule, as great as it is, has limitations, since all people and all situations are different. When you follow the Platinum Rule, however, you can be sure you're actually doing what the other person wants done and assure yourself of a better outcome.

It goes without saying, this has everything to do with your ability to demonstrate your emotional intelligence and, more specifically, empathy -- that underrated leadership strength of love where you imagine the world, or a situation, from someone else's point of view rather than your own.

4. Do what you love.

In closing, I bring back Buffett for one final quote: "In the world of business, the people who are most successful are those who are doing what they love."

Think about it. Does that thought ever run through your mind in your daily work? For most of us, we take for granted our cushy paycheck, health benefits, and job security, even though we may dislike our jobs and wish we were doing something else -- something we actually loved.

Doing what we love is a major contributor to our happiness as humans. And, more important, knowing what you love should be a top priority. If you don't know what it is you love, then finding out what it is should be your first step.

 

Dinsy Ejotuz

Footballguy
Basically, when you get to my age, you'll really measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you.

I know many people who have a lot of money, and they get testimonial dinners and they get hospital wings named after them. But the truth is that nobody in the world loves them. 

That's the ultimate test of how you have lived your life. The trouble with love is that you can't buy it. You can buy sex. You can buy testimonial dinners. But the only way to get love is to be lovable. It's very irritating if you have a lot of money. You'd like to think you could write a check: I'll buy a million dollars' worth of love. But it doesn't work that way. The more you give love away, the more you get.
"And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."

 
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Sullie

Footballguy
Great advice but sorry Warren, the Beatles beat you to the punch in 1967. . . All You Need Is Love! :)

Nice article, thanks for posting it up Joe.👍

 
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Da Guru

Fair & Balanced
Having been around many "wealthy" people in the auto industry at functions and although they are nowhere near Buffett's level just observing it is very easy to see how people I know personally act very different around wealthy people..much kinder, nicer, and even though the rich people can afford to do anything they want the others will do anything for them.  Pretty sure for most of his adult life Buffett due to his enormous wealth has been treated much differently than you or I would be in day to day life and has a different view of how people really are.

In America especially as a culture we've internalized Atlas Shrugged and have learned to view rich people as our morally superior overlords due to their wealth.

I always remember a statement Michael Jordan made years ago "When I had nothing and was hungry nobody would buy me dinner or give me anything..now that I am a multi millionaire and can afford anything I want everybody wants to buy me drinks and dinner"

 
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jwb

Footballguy
Having been around many "wealthy" people in the auto industry at functions and although they are nowhere near Buffett's level just observing it is very easy to see how people I know personally act very different around wealthy people..much kinder, nicer, and even though the rich people can afford to do anything they want the others will do anything for them.  Pretty sure for most of his adult life Buffett due to his enormous wealth has been treated much differently than you or I would be in day to day life and has a different view of how people really are.

In America especially as a culture we've internalized Atlas Shrugged and have learned to view rich people as our morally superior overlords due to their wealth.

I always remember a statement Michael Jordan made years ago "When I had nothing and was hungry nobody would buy me dinner or give me anything..now that I am a multi millionaire and can afford anything I want everybody wants to buy me drinks and dinner"
There's something to this. While I appreciate wisdom, I always take advice from from wealthy people and celebrities with a grain of salt. Their life experience is different. It's much harder for the single mom working three jobs and watching two screaming kids to be as optimistic in her day to day life. Even just how they treat a cashier - her interaction will be different than someone who woke up without a financial care in the world.

I also feel the same about much older people who give the "don't sweat it" advice. Not that I don't appreciate the wisdom and can certainly take something away, but looking back on a situation and actually living it are two very different things. A lot of the "wisdom" doesn't take one's current life station (monthly bills, responsibilities, etc.) into account.  It's easy to look back and say "I wish I quit that job". But it's not so simple when you need that paycheck.

 

Gally

Footballguy
There's something to this. While I appreciate wisdom, I always take advice from from wealthy people and celebrities with a grain of salt. Their life experience is different. It's much harder for the single mom working three jobs and watching two screaming kids to be as optimistic in her day to day life. Even just how they treat a cashier - her interaction will be different than someone who woke up without a financial care in the world.

I also feel the same about much older people who give the "don't sweat it" advice. Not that I don't appreciate the wisdom and can certainly take something away, but looking back on a situation and actually living it are two very different things. A lot of the "wisdom" doesn't take one's current life station (monthly bills, responsibilities, etc.) into account.  It's easy to look back and say "I wish I quit that job". But it's not so simple when you need that paycheck.
But maybe sometimes it does take that into account.  Maybe the advice from the older person is based on the time they were in a similar situation struggling paycheck to paycheck and they got out of a bad situation (even though they needed that paycheck) and ended up much happier and improved their situation because of it. 

Granted, no two situations are totally identical but looking back on a situation does provide wisdom that you cannot necessarily see when you are in the middle of that situation.  I would disagree with the overall sentiment of the bolded above.  In my experience, listening to people that have gone through similar experiences has been a huge help in getting through life.  You have to be able to separate out things and figure out what you need but advice is just more information for you to use to base your decisions on. 

I think even though many people treat people differently based on the wealth/status of the other person the overall message from the OP is that you shouldn't do that.  Treat all people well regardless of their status and you will end up much happier in the end with people that genuinely care for you for who you are.  If you only treat wealthy people well then people will see that and not take you seriously.  It comes off as fake.  But if you treat everyone the same it will be noticed. 

 

Joe Bryant

Guide
Staff member
There's something to this. While I appreciate wisdom, I always take advice from from wealthy people and celebrities with a grain of salt. Their life experience is different. It's much harder for the single mom working three jobs and watching two screaming kids to be as optimistic in her day to day life. Even just how they treat a cashier - her interaction will be different than someone who woke up without a financial care in the world.

I also feel the same about much older people who give the "don't sweat it" advice. Not that I don't appreciate the wisdom and can certainly take something away, but looking back on a situation and actually living it are two very different things. A lot of the "wisdom" doesn't take one's current life station (monthly bills, responsibilities, etc.) into account.  It's easy to look back and say "I wish I quit that job". But it's not so simple when you need that paycheck.
Truth there. 

It's something I try to be cognizant of talking to younger guys. 

I have to realize it's easy for me to say, "Just keep going and it will get easier / work out / get better". I have to remember it's easy for me to say that as I've already likely done what that person is hoping to do. Doesn't mean I can't encourage. But it does mean I need to be empathetic and realize they haven't done it yet. 

 

jwb

Footballguy
Truth there. 

It's something I try to be cognizant of talking to younger guys. 

I have to realize it's easy for me to say, "Just keep going and it will get easier / work out / get better". I have to remember it's easy for me to say that as I've already likely done what that person is hoping to do. Doesn't mean I can't encourage. But it does mean I need to be empathetic and realize they haven't done it yet. 
Yup. It's like every parent has told their 16 year old that their teenage romance breakup doesn't matter. But it DOES matter immensely to the kid. We only realize it didn't matter afterwards.

The point being, it's sometimes hard to listen to the advice - whatever it is - while you are actually going through it. This is not a blanket statement, and it does not apply everywhere of course, as I often seek out advice from those who have more experience than me.  

 

tommyboy

Footballguy
this is why i teach my kids to hate everyone and everything, that way they can never be emotionally scarred

 

Joe Bryant

Guide
Staff member
Yup. It's like every parent has told their 16 year old that their teenage romance breakup doesn't matter. But it DOES matter immensely to the kid. We only realize it didn't matter afterwards.

The point being, it's sometimes hard to listen to the advice - whatever it is - while you are actually going through it. This is not a blanket statement, and it does not apply everywhere of course, as I often seek out advice from those who have more experience than me.  
Yes. I think the key is both sides have to actually recognize where things are. Tricky. But doable. 

 

trader jake

Footballguy
Platinum Rule?  I understand what they're going for here, but treating people the way they want (ie, often feel they deserve) to be treated seems like a recipe for disaster.  For you and them.

Maybe I'm just off here.  Hell, even the name Platinum Rule comes across a little off to me.  ??

 
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Warrior

Footballguy
Platinum Rule?  I understand what they're going for here, but treating people the way they want (ie, often feel they deserve) to be treated seems like a recipe for disaster.  For you and them.

Maybe I'm just off here.  Hell, even the name Platinum Rule comes across a little off to me.  ??
Yeah, the entire article is just pure "feel good" fluff. No actual advice or sage wisdom to be gleaned, other than "you'll be happier if you're not a jerk to people".

 

Gally

Footballguy
Platinum Rule?  I understand what they're going for here, but treating people the way they want (ie, often feel they deserve) to be treated seems like a recipe for disaster.  For you and them.

Maybe I'm just off here.  Hell, even the name Platinum Rule comes across a little off to me.  ??
The way it was presented wasn't great and can be taken that way.  The information I have read about it is more about how you present ideas and information to someone should be in a way that they will understand it.  Not necessarily that way you understand it.  Everyone sees things differently and trying to come at it from the other perspective usually works a lot better than solely going on how you want things. 

It's not meant to be cater to every whim of someone else or bow down to them. 

 

Maurile Tremblay

Administrator
Staff member
In the mid-1990s, I saw a video of Warren Buffett addressing a group of students in a smallish setting (maybe an audience of 30), and he immediately struck me as being extraordinarily intelligent, thoughtful, and wise. Those traits don't always go together. I've been a big fan ever since and ended up reading every chairman's letter in the Berkshire Hathaway annual reports up though the mid-2000s or so. I'm not sure why I stopped, but I highly recommend them even if you don't have an interest in business. There's a lot of generally applicable life wisdom in there.

 
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brun

Footballguy
Well, at least he didn't say you can be whatever you want as long as you put your mind to it.

Below are my thoughts, based on my limited ability to understand what smart people say.

I'm ok with #1

#2 is a lot easier when you're the boss. People will be more inclined to follow your dance.

#3 just can't be achieved with some people. Their expectations are simply unrealistic.

#4 isn't so easy for non-rich people.

 
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