Warren Buffett is the world’s second-richest man. He’s also disciplined, a hard worker, he loves his job, avoids debt and risk, is patient, ethical and frugal. Below, we dig into the qualities that made the “Oracle of Omaha” such a huge success.
Warren Buffett is Disciplined.
In fact, Buffett counts discipline as the #1 most important factor in investing success – more important than IQ. His discipline includes not spending on frivolous items like expensive cars or mansions, but it also involves the emotional strength to hold onto investments he knows are solid even when they’ve crashed. The general idea is that the disciplined investor will see their chosen company’s value return, while the panicked investor will sell out at the bottom, losing the invested money. It’s easy to know the right thing or things to do and talk about them. Discipline is the ability to do the right things every day without fail.
He Works Hard.
The legend is that Buffett had read every book with “finance” in the title in the Omaha Public Library by the age of ten. Buffett reportedly worked all hours of the night during his early career, and there are numerous stories about his voracious reading habits, researching company after company from morning to night each day. His hard work gives him an edge over others because with more information about potential investments he can make better decisions about what to buy.
He Loves His Job.
Though he works hard, Buffet could also be seen as never really working at all. He is often quoted as saying that he “tap dances” to work each day. He is passionate about his job, and he counsels others to pick the job they’d choose if they didn’t have to work at all, because passion translates to success. His idea of the good life is doing work he loves with people he loves, and that’s what he does all day long.
He Avoids Getting in Debt.
Buffett says credit cards are a trap, akin to someone selling off their future for a relatively small amount of money. He says once people get behind, they’ll never get ahead again, and that paying 17% to 20% interest on borrowed money is a terrible financial situation. Beyond personal debt, the billionaire doesn’t like investing in companies that carry debt either.
He Avoids Risk.
Buffett only invests in companies he completely understands. He doesn’t take gambles based on what other people say and he doesn’t “go with his gut.” He digs into all the facts and only invests in something when he’s convinced he will make money on it. Famously, he escaped the dot com bubble in the 90’s by not investing in tech companies because he didn’t understand them. Without that crucial understanding, investing is reduced to gambling. When the bubble burst and so many lost their shirts, Buffett’s risk aversion was proven to be the wiser path.
In a memo to managers at his investment company Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett said the company could afford to lose even large amounts of money but “not one shred of reputation.” He is also often quoted as saying that in looking for people to hire, “you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. You think about it; it’s true. If you hire somebody without integrity, you really want them to be dumb and lazy.”
He Strives to Improve Himself.
Warren Buffett counsels young people to think about the people they admire most and the people they admire least. He says to write down the ten qualities about the admirable people that make them that way, and the ten qualities about the unlikeable people that make them unlikeable. He says if people think about it, every quality that makes someone admirable is learnable, and every characteristic that makes someone reprehensible can be avoided. He often says his chief measure of success is how many people love him, and that his method of increasing his performance in that measure is to make himself a more lovable person.
Buffett has described success in life as like making a snowball. “All you need is wet snow and a really long hill.” He’s also often quoted as saying, “Some things take time. You can’t have a baby by getting nine women pregnant for one month each.” He also claims his favorite length of time to hold onto an investment is “forever.” Buffett is talking about the tendency of many investors to second-guess an investment when it loses money and sell it off, cutting their losses. Most financial advisers encourage people to hold onto investments for the long term, ignoring bumps and shocks that decrease the value of an investment, and trusting time to grow it back. A hefty percentage of Buffett’s financial success has come from being patient: most of his $63 billion dollar net worth came after his fiftieth birthday.
Buffett still lives in the same 5-bedroom house he bought for $31,500 in 1956. It’s well known that Buffett eats at McDonald’s a lot, doesn’t like technology, doesn’t have a computer at his desk and doesn’t like luxury cars. His wedding in 2006 was a short and inexpensive ceremony held at his daughter’s house. Not spending a lot of money on luxuries and “the good life” frees up more money for investing.
He’s a Bargain Hunter.
Following the Benjamin Graham investing philosophy, Buffett looks for investments that are priced low compared to what they’re actually worth. He looks for companies that perform well, don’t carry a lot of debt, make decent profits and have been around for at least ten years, but still aren’t seen by others as a good investment.
Not everyone can be as successful as Warren Buffett. However, cultivating the qualities above can’t help but improve someone’s chances of success in their own life.
- 8 Unusual Things I Learned from Warren Buffett – Forbes Online
- How Does Warren Buffett Get Married? Frugally, it Turns Out – NY Times
- Follow Buffett’s Discipline and Beat the Market – Investopedia
- Billionaire Warren Buffett: Debt is a Trap – MoneyNation.com
- Warren Buffett: How He Does It – Investopedia.com