Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger’s Advice for a Good Life: “You gotta work where you’re turned on.”

Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger’s Advice for a Good Life

By Matt Koppenheffer | More Articles | Save For Later 
May 4, 2013 | Comments (0)

“Find what turns you on.” – Warren Buffett

Get your head out of the gutter. When Buffett spoke those words at Berkshire Hathaway‘s (NYSE: BRK-A  ) (NYSE: BRK-B  ) annual meeting, he was responding to a question about what advice he’d give to himself if he could go back 50 years and give himself some advice. And with that quip, Buffett was referring to finding something that “turns you on” to do for a living. Buffett’s right-hand man Charlie Munger didn’t disagree. He piled on: “You gotta work where you’re turned on.” Not that that comment did anything to squelch the innuendo.

It’s hard to argue the importance of that if you’re trying to live a satisfied life. But this isn’t just solid life guidance, it’s also a reminder of an critical aspect of Berkshire: Just how much Buffett and Munger love what they do. There’s a reason that Fortune‘s Carol Loomis titled her most recent book about Buffett “Tap Dancing to Work.” Is it warm and fuzzy? Sure it is, but it’s also a big reason why shareholder have, over the years, seen such incredible returns from Berkshire Hathaway. Buffett and Munger love what they do and that allows them to think in terms of the long term and what will drive long-term success. During the meeting, both executives opined on how big of an advantage it is that they don’t have outside forces — read quarterly earnings pressures — weighing on them. Since it’s not about a bigger bonus or more stock options, they’re free to make tough decisions — like not writing unprofitable insurance business — rather than always putting the pedal to the metal. As shareholders look ahead to whomever will succeed Buffett and Munger, this shouldn’t be overlooked. It’ll be great to get someone in there who’s tack-smart, cool-headed, and value-oriented at heart. But over the long term, the transition will work best if the current duo is able to find somebody that simply loves the job as much as they do (or, at least, close).

Buffett and Munger dances to “Gangnam Style” + Buffett jokes in the cold and rainy Omaha weather: “If we had a company that sold coats we would have left you out there.”

Here’s What Buffett’s Saying at the Berkshire Annual Meeting

By Matt Koppenheffer | More Articles | Save For Later
May 4, 2013 | Comments (0)

Before Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger even sat down at Berkshire Hathaway‘s (NYSE:BRK-A  ) (NYSE: BRK-B  annual meeting, the annual “Berkshire video” showed a cartoon version of Buffett and Munger dancing to “Gangnam Style.” With that under your belt, it’s hard to feel that your day didn’t start off right. But that was just the warm-up for the much-awaited Q&A session with Buffett and Munger. Here is a look at some of what Buffett and Munger have been saying so far.

On first quarter earnings. Buffett noted that closures and persistentcy in GEICO policies. He called this trend “solid gold.”

On challenging Ariel Hsing in ping-pong at Borsheims. Buffett: “If you’re courageous you’ll show up with your paddle and you’ll look like an idiot.”

On trailing the market. Buffett conceded that if the market continues on the trajectory it’s on so far in 2013, Berkshire could trail the S&P 500  (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) for a five-year period for the first time. Buffett said that it “won’t be a happy day, but won’t totally discourage us.” Munger chimed in with: “We’re slowing down, but it’ll still be very pleasant.”

On selling things to Berkshire shareholders. A shareholder asking a question thanked Buffett for letting everyone in early (it was cold and raining in Omaha this morning). Buffett quipped: “If we had a company that sold coats we would have left you out there.”

On selling Berkshire shares. To head off any rash moves by family members, Munger warned: “I want to say to the many Mungers in the audience, don’t be so stupid as to sell these shares.” Buffett quickly followed up with: “That goes to the Buffetts too.”

On negative implications of the H.J. Heinz  (NYSE: HNZ  )  deal. A questioner wondered whether Berkshire’s preferred position in the Heinz deal and the high price paid suggested that Buffett isn’t optimistic about the returns available in the market. Buffett responded simply that that was “totally inaccurate.” Munger later added on: “As you said, the report was totally wrong.”

On hiring executives from AIG  (NYSE: AIG  ) . Buffett pointed out that “these are people that reached out to Berkshire, in the case at least one of them had reached out numerous times in the past” and added that “we’ve had a number of people reach out since the announcement was made.” That’s a big positive for Berkshire since it’s looking to aggressively build out its commercial insurance capabilities.

The Plateau Effect: Getting from Stuck to Success

Where Were You in 1979? The final year of the 1970s witnessed epochal shifts in power that ushered in the modern world.

May 3, 2013, 2:57 p.m. ET

Where Were You in 1979?

The final year of the 1970s witnessed epochal shifts in power that ushered in the modern world.

By Jonathan Karl

The 1970s seem destined to be a justly forgotten decade—a time of disco, stagflation and little of the social upheaval that defined the previous decade or the epic global changes of the one that followed. But Christian Caryl sees more than malaise when he looks at the 1970s; he sees one of history’s great turning points. “With the passage of time,” Mr. Caryl writes in “Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the 21st Century,” “the 1970s begin to appear less like a sideshow than the main event.”

Strange Rebels

By Christian Caryl
Basic, 407 pages, $28.99

As the title of Mr. Caryl’s book suggests, his focus is 1979—a year that brought Iran’s Islamic revolution, the siege of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and the emergence of four leaders who, he argues, changed the course of history: Margaret Thatcher, the Ayatollah Khomeini, Deng Xiaoping and Pope John Paul II.

It is hard to imagine figures as different as these or a year quite as grim as 1979, but suspend your disbelief for a moment. Mr. Caryl makes a fairly compelling case that this was a year when history made a sharp turn and that each leader set in motion the seismic changes that came to shape our world today: the fall of the Soviet Union, the rise of China and the emergence of radical Islam. In 1979, Mr. Caryl says, “the twin forces of markets and religion, discounted for so long, came back with a vengeance.”

In January of that year, China’s new paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping, made a nine-day visit to the United States. He was not technically China’s head of state (he never held that title), but President Jimmy Carter welcomed him to the White House with a state dinner. At the dinner, Deng found himself seated at a table with actress Shirley MacLaine, who had spent time in China working on a documentary extolling the virtues of Maoism during the bloody Cultural Revolution. She told Deng how wonderful it had been for her to meet a professor plowing a field on a collective farm. “Deng looked at her scornfully . . . ,” Mr. Caryl writes. “Professors, he told her, should be teaching university classes, not planting vegetables.” Read more of this post

Munger Decries Wall Street Approach at Deposit-Taking Banks; Munger said that he was “a little less optimistic about the U.S. banking system” than Buffett is

Munger Decries Wall Street Approach at Deposit-Taking Banks

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A) Vice Chairman Charles Munger, whose firm owns stakes in some of the biggest U.S. lenders, said Wall Street trading risks should be curbed at deposit-taking institutions. “I do not see why massive derivative books should be mixed up with” government-insured deposits, Munger, 89, said yesterday during Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire’s annual meeting. “The more bankers want to be like investment bankers, instead of like bankers, the worse I like it.” Munger’s comments echo those of former financial executives and lawmakers who say the largest lenders still pose risks to the economy years after reforms and U.S. bailouts. Derivatives, which are used to hedge risks or for speculation, magnify the interconnectedness of firms including JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Bank of America Corp. (BAC) Critics say that these so-called too-big- to-fail companies would get taxpayer help in a future crisis.

The Berkshire vice-chairman said his views about the industry differ with those of his longtime business partner, billionaire Chairman Warren Buffett. Responding to a question at the meeting about how too-big-to-fail affected Berkshire holdings, Buffett reiterated his support of U.S. lenders. In January, he said he guaranteed that banks no longer posed a threat to the economy because capital levels were higher. “I don’t worry about the banking system being the cause of the next bubble,” Buffett, 82, said yesterday. While lenders “won’t earn as high a return as they would’ve” previously, because of regulation, they still are “decent” investments, he said.

‘Less Optimistic’

Munger said that he was “a little less optimistic about the U.S. banking system” than Buffett is. Read more of this post

IT engineer becomes Weibo sensation after giving up career to become a fruit seller

IT engineer becomes Weibo sensation after giving up career to become a fruit seller

Xu Jia was a PHP engineer for Sina Weibo in 2011 and often worked late into the night. -China Daily
Sat, May 04, 2013
China Daily/Asia News Network

A former IT engineer has become a sensation on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo after he gave up a promising career to successfully turn into a fruit vendor. Xu Jia was a PHP engineer for Sina Weibo in 2011 and often worked late into the night. In 2013, he was promoted to a title equivalent to an architect in one of China’s most popular social networking sites. “I was in tears to see my promotion. It was a dream for many years finally coming true. But I changed my mind and wanted to discover the other me,” Xu wrote on Weibo. Xu quit his job to sell fruit in 2013. What surprised Weibo users most is the combination photo showing sharp differences in his looks between the two working environments. In his high-end IT job, he looked exhausted, wore glasses and had scanty hair on his head. But in the fruit store, he appears vigorous, well-dressed, and in good shape. Read more of this post

Buffett maps out hopes for Berkshire without him

Buffett maps out hopes for Berkshire without him

8:19pm EDT

By Jonathan Stempel and Jennifer Ablan

OMAHA, Nebraska (Reuters) – Warren Buffett on Saturday gave the most extensive comments to date about the future of Berkshire Hathaway Inc after he is gone, saying he still expects the conglomerate to be a partner of choice for distressed companies.

Buffett, 82, also defended his plan to install his son, Howard, who has little investing experience, as nonexecutive chairman, saying the younger man’s role would be to ensure that Berkshire had the right CEO in place.

During the financial crisis and its immediate aftermath, Berkshire helped prop up a number of companies, among them blue-chips such as General Electric and Goldman Sachs. Buffett’s investments were viewed by many shareholders as a seal of approval from one of the world’s most respected businessmen.

Short-seller Doug Kass, invited by Buffett to Berkshire’s annual meeting on Saturday to offer contrarian points of view, asked whether a successor would have the same heft. Buffett said it would not matter.

“Berkshire is the 800 number when there is really some panic in the markets, and people really need significant capital,” Buffett said. Read more of this post

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