Letter to my Children: Lessons from “Becoming Warren Buffett”

The documentary “Becoming Warren Buffett” got to my core. It contains rich lessons about life, purpose, and professional growth. While watching it, I caught myself thinking about my parents who taught me many of the same principals Warren Buffett lives by, my clients who I wanted to discuss the insights with, and you two, V and G. Although I’m already sharing some of these life lessons with you daily, I felt compelled to put them in writing. My hope is that when you are out in the world, you will remember these lessons that speak to our family principles.

Focus: Buffett tells us that he and Bill Gates were asked to write down one word that described what helped them the most in their lives and that they both wrote the word FOCUS. Achievement requires focus.

Circle of competence: he explains that you need to “define what your game is. Where you have an edge.” You need to find your circle of competence.

Consistency and simplicity: Buffett shows consistency and simplicity in how he manages his life and business.

Public speaking: He tells us that he was terrified of public speaking and how important it was for him to take the Dale Carnegie public speaking course. It helped him get over his fear and propose to his wife.

Ethics: Buffett was never interested in making money by cheating, and he proved to the world that you can make money with a high ethical standard. He proved that you can simultaneously be a high achieving businessman and a good human being.

Deep work: He reads 5 to 6 hours a day and makes time to think. Buffett’s ability to focus and to get in “the zone” allows him to maximize his analytical abilities.

“Work that is not work”: Buffett works with people he enjoys and gets into his “zone,” so work does not feel like work.

Taking responsibility: The way Buffett managed the Salomon Brothers scandal was a historical example of how you must take responsibility for your mistakes and that you can rebuild trust when you have credibility.

Celebration: His partner, Charlie, tells us “Celebration is part of making a group of people work well together.” We all have to make the time to stop and smell the coffee.

Vulnerability: He was vulnerable about needing to do a better job of understanding human nature and solving human problems.

Generosity: Buffett will always be remembered by his philanthropy. He concluded that the best use of his utilities was to give back to society.

Compound interest: Buffett started working, saving and investing very early in life. He preaches about the powerful concept of compound interest.

Love: He acknowledges that we need others to grow. Buffett speaks about how his wife made him more of a whole person. He talks about the importance of his parents, partners, employees, and investors. He says “it is a very strange thing, love…you can’t get rid of it. The more you give, the more you get. If you try to hang on to it, you lose it.”

V and G: As you explore your life path, my advice to you is to discover what you are good at and find the type of work that “feels like not work.” If you want to achieve, you need to focus; keep it simple and be consistent so you have time for what’s important. Being a good human being is the most essential principle of all. Take responsibility for your mistakes and keep a high ethical standard. Find your voice and don’t be afraid to speak up. Make the time to celebrate the small wins and create special moments – these memories will help you through the tough times. Be vulnerable about areas where you can improve and be a life-learner. Be generous, give back, help someone in need, and always remember to love. There is no shame in asking for help because we need people to grow. Mom and Dad will always love you! Last but not least, start saving and investing early – compound interest works.