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Wit, Wisdom, Warren (Issue #12): Business of Life

He’s been dubbed the Oracle of Omaha. Some call him America’s hero, while some a questionable St. Warren.

Several books attempt to capture the personality, the philosophy, and the very essence of the world’s most successful investor; but words fail to adequately describe this unique individual…except perhaps his own words.

“Nobody does Warren Buffett as well as Warren Buffett,” writes Janet Lowe in Warren Buffett Speaks.

Apart from doling out thousands of quotes over the decades on the business of investing, Buffett has been a great teacher on the business of life as well.

Despite his influence and affluence, Buffett continues to be plainspoken, honest, optimistic, and funny…and especially when it comes to his thoughts on life.

In today’s post, I carry a few of his thoughts on how to live a happy and fulfilling life. I have not added any explanation of mine to any of his thoughts because, as Charlie Munger would say, “I have noting to add.” 🙂

Warren Buffett on the Business of Life

Spend wisely

If you buy things you don’t need, you will soon sell things you need.

Save for the unexpected

Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.

Be patient

No matter how great the talent or efforts, some things just take time. You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.

Benefit from compounding in a long life

Life is like a snowball. The important thing is finding wet snow (opportunities) and a really long hill (long term).

Avoid debt

I’ve seen more people fail because of liquor and leverage – leverage being borrowed money. You really don’t need leverage in this world much. If you’re smart, you’re going to make a lot of money without borrowing.

Understand risk

Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.

Know when to quit

That which is not worth doing is not worth doing well.

Do work you love

I’m the luckiest guy in the world in terms of what I do for a living. No one can tell me to do things I don’t believe in or things I think are stupid.

Take a job that you love. I think you are out of your mind if you keep taking jobs that you don’t like because you think it will look good on your resume. Isn’t that a little like saving up sex for your old age?

Avoid working with people you don’t like

I think that’s kind of a crazy way to live. It’s probably a bad idea under any circumstances, but absolutely nuts if you’re already rich.

Work with good people

I choose to work with every single person that I work with. That ends up being the most important factor. I don’t interact with people I don’t like or admire. That’s the key. It’s like marrying.

I gave a talk last year; some student at Harvard asked me, ‘Who should I go to work for?’ I said, “Go to work for whoever you admire the most.” I got a call from the dean about two weeks later. He said, ‘What are you telling these kids? They’re all becoming self-employed.’

Live how you want to live

One of the things that attracted me to working with securities was the fact that you could live your own life. You don’t have to dress for success.

Be honest

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.

Cultivate good character

Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.

Believe in yourself

I always knew I was going to be rich. I don’t think I ever doubted it for a minute.

Stick with what you know

The size of your circle (of competence) is not very important; knowing its boundaries, however, is vital.

Give back to the society

The best defense in a tough economy is to add the most you can to society. Your money can be inflated away but your knowledge and talent cannot. No matter the external circumstances, you are always in control of your talent, learning and passion for life. There will always be opportunities for talent.

Know what success really means

I know people who have a lot of money, and they get testimonial dinners and hospital wings named after them. But the truth is that nobody in the world loves them. When you get to my age, you’ll measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you, actually do love you. That’s the ultimate test of how you’ve lived your life.

Learn to say ‘No’

You won’t keep control of your time, unless you can say ‘no.’ You can’t let other people set your agenda in life.

Money can’t buy love

Money, to some extent, sometimes lets you be in more interesting environments. But it can’t change how many people love you or how healthy you are.

It irritates the hell out of me, but you can’t buy love.

Keep life in perspective

In the event of nuclear war, disregard this message.

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About the Author

Vishal Khandelwal is the founder of Safal Niveshak. He works with small investors to help them become smart and independent in their stock market investing decisions. He is a SEBI registered Research Analyst. Connect with Vishal on Twitter.


  1. ashutosh nigam says:

    Hi Vishal,
    Thanks a lot Vishal . I’ll keep a copy of all these write-ups just in case you shutdown this site late in future 🙂 . But the amount of work you have put in collating all these is commendable. Thanks again . Cheers!!

  2. Awesome, what a pithy compilation.
    Thank you

  3. Jalal Basha says:

    Thanks for your Beautiful Compilation.

  4. Einstein said that compounding is the eight wonder of this world. Buffett never ceases to stress upon the effects of compounding on wealth.

    The formula of compound interest is very simple, but in most cases we use it for annual compounding. Have you ever thought, what would happen if your money could compound continuously ? At least theoretically, can a continuous compounding make you very rich ? It’s an interesting trivia to think about and entertain your lizard brain 🙂

    See here.

    This explains it here. Although there is a little bit of mathematics involved but nevertheless it’s an interesting watch.

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