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Dr. David Kass » Warren Buffett’s Meeting with University of Maryland MBA Students – November 15, 2013

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More of Mr. Buffett wisdom!

Which is your favorite?

My favorite is when he talks about why he still works:

(7) How do you assess management when acquiring a company?

I handed Mrs. B (Nebraska Furniture Mart) a big check, and none of them (managers of acquired firms) had to work anymore.  But will they behave the same after they get the money and I get the stock certificate? Will they work just as hard when they’re putting money in their own pocket?

3/4 of our managers are independently wealthy. These people don’t need to go to work, but they are putting the work in. If I give him 4 billion dollars, will it be the same results next month? Next year? I don’t deal with contracts; I have to size up whether management is going to continue working that same way. Generally, I’ve been right in my assessments and I’ve gotten better. They don’t need me, I need them.

Why do I come to work? I can do anything I want to do, and yet I come out every morning and can’t wait to get into work. I enjoy working Saturdays, talking to students. Why do I do it? I get to paint my own painting. Berkshire Hathaway is my painting. People love creating things. I think I’m Michelangelo, painting the Sistine Chapel but it could look like a blob to someone else. Second thing – I want applause. I like it when people appreciate my painting. If others have their own paintings, then who am I to tell them how to paint it? (Just like management) I appreciate what they do. I know the game, so when I praise them, they know they’re getting approval from a critic they like. I have their stock certificate, but it’s still their business. It’s a good culture when managers really care about the business.

He still works because he wants to create, and he wants to be appreciated for creating.

That's fascinating.

I find it very humble in a way, for him to admit he likes the applause. But, because i love the way he is so optimistic about all subjects, specially women potencial, my favourite is #6. 

(6) You are one of the few male CEO’s who champions women in the workplace. Can you talk about your reasoning and how we can contribute our intelligence to the workplace? (from a woman speaker)

WB:  We wrote the Declaration of Independence in 1776 – “All men are created equal” etc. In 1789 we wrote a Constitution – on second thoughts… blacks are only 3/5 of a person. They slipped up. They wrote in such a way that they didn’t have to use gender pronouns. They gave themselves away in presidency, they said “He”. Pretty soon all men are created equal became all males are created equal. Move forward to the Gettysburg address, Lincoln repeated the line about All men are created equal. Slipped over the fact that women couldn’t vote, couldn’t even inherit money in some states. Finally, in 1920, 131 years into this new venture of governance, “Oh yea, women should have a fair stake in vote.” After this, many justices were appointed before O’Connor was. Everyone had expectations of me as a child, but my sisters who were just as smart, were delegated to something different. Here is this country, think about how far we came from using half our talent. Now we are beginning to unleash the potential of the other half. If we only allow people to be CEO’s, accountants or lawyers if they are above 5’10″, and people under 5’10″ must become nurses, etc. that would be crazy, we could not unleash potential. Same thing was the case for women. No one realized it, my dad didn’t, and my teachers didn’t. Women are obviously just as smart and work just as hard.  No one is better at running our annual meetings than Carrie. I think its nuts for a CEO to pass up the most talented person based on their gender. But we are going in the right direction. We’re moving towards the ideals we set, but these ideals set by Jefferson weren’t practiced until much later.

Yes, it is interesting that he likes applause.

I've never enjoyed applause -- it makes me feel shy.

I do like how he has been a driving force in encouraging more women to be managers and executives.

Thank you for your perspective, Juliana.

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