What I learned from meeting Warren Buffett … Passion

Warren Edward Buffett

Robert H. Smith Students meeting with Warren Buffett in Omaha, Nebraska

Every morning I jump out of bed and I go to work and I feel like I am drawing on my own canvas. I can extend the canvas in different ways or choose a different color.

This how the 86 years old Warren Buffett described his daily work at Berkshire Hathaway.

On November 18, 2016, I had the opportunity to meet Warren Buffett in Omaha, Nebraska. Students from 8 universities were invited for lunch and Q&A session with Mr Buffett that lasted over 2 ½ hours.

Mr Buffett answered many questions ranging from his views on active and passive management to his take on technology replacing human investors. One of the questions that really stood out to me was:

What qualities do you, Warren Buffett, look for in hiring people?”

“passion for the business.”

Buffett answered, while Berkshire has around 25 people at headquarters, the company has 360,000 employees in total. The managers of Berkshire’s 70 businesses have the autonomy in their hiring decision. While there are critical qualities that these managers look for like intelligence, energy, and integrity. Warren Buffett believes that the most important quality in a manager, in addition to the previously mentioned, is having “passion for the business.” He said that passion for their businesses makes Berkshire’s managers stand out and excel.

By the age of 23, Buffett was rejected by Ben Graham for a job. Buffett’s persistence, tenacity, and passion for his career motivated him to keep trying until one day he received a letter from Ben Graham saying that the “next time you come to NY, stop by my office.” The following day, Warren Buffett was on the train to Newyork. He accepted a job to work with Ben Graham without even knowing the salary.

Meeting Warren Buffett was an inspiration and reminder that passion for what you are doing is an essential element for career success and long-term career happiness.

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