Warren (Buffett!) Is in the House.

Posted May 22, 2013 by Kristen J. Zavo in Leaders We Adore

warren buffett

On May 2, 2013, at the age of 82, Warren Buffett sent his first tweet, “Warren is in the house.”  He did so publicly, in the middle of a live-streaming interview with Fortune’s Patricia Sellers.  The discussion, titled “Women, Work & Other Wisdom” was the first of its kind, a social interview conversation to discuss his views on women in the workforce.

The interview came as a follow-up to his essay, “Warren Buffett is bullish…on women,” published earlier that day online by Fortune Magazine. Per Mr. Buffett, the essay is a response to a lot of the ideas he had, some of which were sparked by Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work & the Will to Lead.  In his essay, Mr. Buffett acknowledges society’s role in denying women with equal opportunities in the workforce, but also says that it is important for women to stop imposing limitations on themselves.  He muses that since thus far, America has only utilized 50% of its workforce, he can only imagine how far we can go if we utilized 100% of our human capacity.

Warren Buffett’s Fortune interview was followed a few days later with another, this time with Levo League co-founder, Caroline Ghosn.  Both were especially great to watch.  There were so many nuggets of wisdom, but here are a few that resonated most with me, none of which are gender specific.

Why Failure Isn’t So Bad

Towards the end of the Levo interview, Mr. Buffett told the story of taking a 10-hour train ride to Chicago to interview for Harvard Business School, where he was promptly turned down in the span of 10 minutes. One of his biggest concerns as he turned around to take the 10-hour trip back, was wondering how he would tell his dad, who had always told him he could do anything.

Looking back, he can see that everything worked out for the best.  He went to Columbia where he met Ben Graham, and then his wife, two of the most important people in shaping his life and career (more here).
Mr Buffett said,

If you fail, you really do [have to] dust yourself off and get right back in…Almost everything that looked like a failure turned into success…always remember, the world isn’t over yet.

Failure is a hard pill to swallow, but it is important to not give up, as it is many times just a stepping stone to something better, and what is meant to be.

Why Passion Is So Important

Passion is a theme throughout all interviews with Warren Buffett.  He does not believe in taking jobs just to build a resume, or working hard just to make money.  Work-Life balance is not an issue for him because he enjoys work or “getting to paint his canvas everyday.”  

For example, he has always been a voracious reader, reading all the investment books in his local library by the age of 11.  Mr. Buffett still reads 5-6 hours a day, not because he has to – but because he is passionate about the topics, and that is no doubt one reason he is so successful in choosing investments.  Moral of the story? Do what you love!

On the Meaning of Success

For more impatient readers, fast-forward to 7:07 in the video below where Warren Buffett is asked how he would define success.  Surprise – it’s not about money or power.  It’s about having the love and respect of the people that matter most to you.

You can have all the money in the world. You can have buildings named after you, hospital wings, whatever it may be…[but] unless you have people that really care about you, you’re not a success.

Enough said.  After you’ve had a chance to watch the full interview below, let me know what you think. What are YOUR biggest takeaways?

Wait…there’s more!

Feeling inspired?  Can’t get enough of Mr. Buffett’s wisdom?  If so, here is a link to the Levo interview and also to a few of my favorite articles on him and his anectdotes and life lessons.  Enjoy!

Levo League Interview – Caroline did a wonderful job interviewing Mr. Buffett – they both claimed to be introverts, but you wouldn’t know it from the way they seemed to connect so easily, and make the conversation flow so well.

5 Lessons From Warren Buffett’s Office Hours, Drake Baer, Fast Company – More great lessons here, especially about confidence and the importance of overcoming the fear of public speaking.

Say No To the Funhouse Mirror, Jesse Draper, Forbes – Read this article to really understand what the “funhouse mirror” is and how to start looking at your abilities realistically.  I also love how Jesse mentions Mr. Buffett’s answer to the classic question “If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive, who would it be…?”

20 Uncommon Lessons from My Weekend with Warren Buffett, Scott Dinsmore, Live Your Legend – This is from last year, but just as relevant today.  Print it out and read it on your commute if you have must, but it is not to be missed.

How To Find And Do Work You Love, Scott Dinsmore, TEDx – This is an inspiring talk in its own right, but I add this link here because of a piece of Buffett wisdom that Scott shares near the beginning of the talk, one that completely changed the course of his career.


About the Author

Kristen J. Zavo

Kristen J. Zavo is a product development, strategy and innovation professional, with a special interest in the retail industry. Having always been interested in the people side of business, Kristen loves to explore, reflect on, and share stories about the challenges and adventures of being a businesswoman. No topic is off limits - whether it's how to handle being the only woman in the boardroom, or figuring out how to to pack all the "essentials" for a 2-week business trip in just a carry-on! Outside of work, she loves exploring new places, spending time at the beach and meeting friends to workout (spin or yoga, anyone?!).