5 Practical Life Lessons from Billionaire Investor Warren Buffett
For several years, I’ve admired both the humility and work ethic of Warren Buffett.
Despite the fact that he’s one of the single richest people in the world, he still rides the same gold Cadillac to work every day – himself, not a driver – eats the same meal – one of three items on the McDonald’s breakfast menu never amounting to more than $3.17 – and takes every opportunity to offer his wisdom to others.
These little habits and character traits might not seem like much at first, but if you take the time to study them, they’re part of the reason for Buffett’s success. Buffett has a lot to teach us about life, so I’ve organized a few of his best lessons for you to enjoy and learn from just as I have.
Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.
– Warren Buffett
There’s so much to learn from Warren Buffett – so much so that it’s almost impossible to narrow this list down to just a few points.
The lessons below have offered me great value throughout my life and I know they’ll continue to do so (they’re that important). I hope they can do the same for you.
1. Delight your customer
The idea of delighting or “wowing” your customer is a big one for anyone who owns a business and, since my own experience as a business owner, I’ve come to see just how important this really is. But, the truth is, I might not have ever realized it’s importance if I hadn’t read Buffett’s original comments on the idea.
Buffett believes that the single most important task for a business is to delight its customers. If you can do that, Buffett says, they’ll be a customer for life:
Have them walk out the door thinking, ‘I have never had a better experience with a human being,’ and they will come back to buy your car.
2. Consistency is key to success
I talked a little about this earlier, but consistency is a hallmark of Buffett’s.
He is so highly ritualistic that it’s almost mind-blowing, and yet, here is someone who is performing at the top of their game, at the age of eighty-seven, doing one of the most difficult things in the world (as far as mentally-intensive tasks are concerned).
It’s this great consistency that allows Buffett to stay in control. And it’s control of oneself that is critical to achieving success.
3. Do what you love
I know some will be surprised to see this on the list of life lessons from a Wall Street investor, but Buffett truly loves what he does, and you can see this is evident in his performance. If you don’t truly love and have a passion for what you do, you’ll never perform at the top echelons of whatever the endeavor is.
What’s more, he believes pursuing anything for the sake of money or status is a mistake:
Not doing what we love in the name of greed is very poor management of our lives.
4. Be intentional with your time and energy
Closely related to Buffett’s consistency habit, he’s also very intentional with the way he chooses to spend his time and energy.
He’s famous for his annual letters, which he sends to each of the companies he owns as a sort of recap and congratulation on the past year’s goals along with a declaration of his goals for the following year.
What would otherwise be a long, drawn-out company meeting, Buffett reshapes into a succinct letter summarizing all of the important points of said meeting – and then skipping it altogether. It’s intentional behaviors like this that give Buffett more time to think and act strategically, clearly a personal strength of his.
Buffett’s Business partner Charlie Munger once sarcastically remarked about his schedule saying:
You look at his schedule sometime and there’s a haircut. Tuesday, haircut day. That’s what created one of the world’s most successful business records in history. He has a lot of time to think.
5. Communication skills are key
Communication skills are critical to success in virtually anything, but it’s a fact that most of us often disregard this skillset in favor of developing other more tangible skills.
Buffett reportedly hated public speaking growing up, but he understood how important it was to become successful. He enrolled in a public speaking course to begin improving his skills and eventually overcame his fear.
He’s now often been quoted as saying that communication skills are the key to success. In a 2009 speech to Columbia University business students, Buffett said:
Right now, I would pay $100,000 for 10 percent of the future earnings of any of you, so if you’re interested, see me after class.
Now, you can improve your value by 50 percent just by learning communication skills–public speaking. If that’s the case, see me after class and I’ll pay you $150,000.
Warren Buffett is a venerable wealth of knowledge, worth far more than his net worth will ever be. He’s garnered the respect of millions around the world through his work ethic, humility (despite his wealth), wisdom, and investing savvy. Use these lessons to help you realize your own definition of success. Buffett would approve.