“It’s 12:35 p.m. in Omaha, Nebraska, and I’m having lunch with Warren Buffett.”
That’s the first line in my new book, The Lemonade Life.
We ate at Piccolo’s, which is one of Buffett’s favorite restaurants and where he and Bill Gates also have dined together. Buffett graciously hosted me and my classmates from Wharton Business School, also having invited us to his Berkshire Hathaway headquarters.
What incredible insights would Buffett share? His thoughts on the economy, investing, playing bridge with Bill Gates? We heard all those things. The more I listened, however, I realized that the real “wisdom” was less about business and more about living your life with purpose, on your terms, with the things you enjoy, like a root beer float.
Here are the biggest takeaways from my lunch with Warren Buffett:
1. Warren Buffett expressed immense gratitude
Buffett is grateful for everything in his life. He’s grateful to be alive. He’s grateful for his business. He’s grateful for his family. He’s grateful for his charitable impact. That deep level of gratitude helps drive his generous spirit.
Advice: When you lead with gratitude, it’s a humbling experience.
2. Warren Buffett has a positive outlook
Warren Buffett is genuinely happy. He believes in his business. He believes in the companies in which he invests. He believes in the importance of a long-term outlook. He’s not betting against things; he betting for them.
Advice: An open mind means access to more opportunities.
3. Warren Buffett is a risk-taker
Warren Buffett is a risk-taker, but not the risk-taker you might imagine. We think of billionaires as mavericks who take out-sized bets and are willing to “risk it all” to make a large return. However, Buffett took different kinds of risks, namely calculated risks. As a value investor, Buffett uses certain investment principles to guide his investment decisions and approach to risk.
Advice: When you have a set of principles, you already know how to assess risk.
4. Warren Buffett does his own thing
News flash: Warren Buffett is really good at being Warren Buffett. He’s not trying to impress anyone or live someone else’s life. At lunch, there were no assistants. There were no bodyguards or limo drivers. He drove himself. Warren Buffett doesn’t work on Wall Street. He lives in the same Omaha house he purchased in 1958 for $31,500. He doesn’t dine on caviar and sip champagne. He prefers cheeseburgers and root beer floats.
Advice: There is a certain freedom that comes with independence.
5. Warren Buffett knows what he’s good at
Too many people choose jobs that come with the paycheck. They too often choose the job that’s prestigious or what their classmates choose. Imagine if everyone focused on the job where they can excel. Warren Buffett is genuinely good at being an investor. He invests in companies he understands. He avoids companies he doesn’t. He’s certainly not chasing other investors who invest in the latest trends.
Advice: Life is more efficient when you know who you really are.
6. Warren Buffett is a workhorse
It’s easy to mistake Warren Buffett for a showhorse. You see him frequently on television. He’s photographed eating at Dairy Queen. He hosts his famous annual meeting.
Make no mistake: Warren Buffett is not a showhorse. He is a workhorse who understands the details, does the analysis and knows his business intimately. He can tell you just as much about his first investment as his last.
Advice: There are no shortcuts to greatness, and there is no escaping hard work.