Courage is the key ingredient to a successful and fulfilled life, a lesson entrepreneur Kathy Xiaosi Gong learned early on thanks to billionaire investor Warren Buffett.
Gong was 24 years old when she saw Buffett at an event and decided to invite him to dinner.
“I saw my opportunity and I just had to take it,” she told CNBC Make It at Money 20/20 in Singapore.
It was a White House Mentorship and Leadership Program gala dinner for women aged 25 and over. Considering her age at the time, she shouldn’t have even been there, but she managed to convince organizers of her potential. She was named China’s youngest-ever national chess champion at 10 years old after all.
Buffett rejected the entrepreneur’s bold invitation, but her effort and bravery were rewarded when he agreed to spend an hour with her over drinks.
During their meeting, Buffett offered three pieces of advice:
- “Before you go to sleep each night, ask yourself: Are you smarter, have you learnt something new?” With every new day comes an opportunity to learn something new. While we all have certain things we are passionate and knowledgeable about, expanding our curiosity beyond the scope of our interests is of equal value, and helps us develop a better understanding of the world in general.
- “Always pick up the phone. In life there will be so many things you want to run away from, but you should always confront them head on.” Facing our fears and the things that make us uncomfortable not only builds up our confidence to deal with them in the future but opens us up to more possibilities.
- “Be humble, no matter how high you rise.” Just as success can be achieved, it can also be taken away which is important to always keep in the back of our minds.
Gong seems to have taken his advice to heart. Now 31, she is the CEO and co-founder of mobile web developer WafaGames, and has been named one of MIT’s 35 Innovators of 2017.
Today, whenever she’s faced with insecurity, she still reminds herself of the courage she worked up that day, eight years ago.
“Sometimes I have to ask myself if I still have that courage of my 24-year-old self,” Gong said.
“I have to remind myself of that Warren Buffett moment.”
That courage is still very much there and Gong and is now gearing up to travel to space.