I never imagined when I applied to Haas, that one day I would have the opportunity to meet and talk with Mr.Warren Buffet personally. Thanks to the Finance Club leadership, a group of Haas students from the Full Time, Evening Weekend and Berkeley Columbia MBA programs travelled to Omaha to meet Mr. Warren Buffet – The Oracle of Omaha.
The day started with a tour of the Nebraska Furniture Mart (part of the Berkshire Hathaway Family). Our host, Bob Batt gave us the grand tour starting with the history of the company. The company was founded by Bob’s grandmother Mrs.B, who immigrated from Russia and started with $500 borrowed from her brothers. Bob explained the operations, the culture, the impact of globalization on the furniture industry. For budding entrepreneurs, Bob presented his OPM theory – it is better to learn the basics of business on Other Peoples Money. Having a deep understanding of all parts of business can let you understand the risks and manage efficiencies accordingly, he said. The tour ended at the newly remodelled electronic store – the largest in the region.
We then moved to the Field Club of Omaha for our meeting with Mr. Warren Buffet. Mr.Buffet entertained questions from students for the next two hours. While there were several questions asked, I am summarizing a few of them in this post.
- On the topic of relevant classes for investing in business, he commented that there are three things that one needs to know – How to think about the market ( Also Chapter 8 in the Intelligent Investor), How to value a business ( he advised to think of business like a farm) and Excellent communication – both verbal and written communications. Mr Buffet recounted his initial fear of public speaking and how he finally attended Dale Carnegie’s course by paying cash instead of a check.
- On the topic of his best investment so far, he said that it would be GEICO. He explained how he first sold 100 shares to his Aunt Alice and how he doubled his net worth.
- On the topic of mistakes, he mentioned that Dexter shoes was his biggest mistake. The company buckled under global competition and since the company was bought with Berkshire Hathaway shares, the overall value of the “loss” has increased over the years as Berkshire Hathaway shares has increased.
- On the topic of career choices he said ” I would try to find the job that I would take if I had all the money in the world”. He also used similar examples to explain how he evaluates business that he chooses to invest in. After investing in companies, there is minimal intervention from Berkshire Hathaway but the reason the businesses succeed is because the owners are innately passionate about their business.
The two hour session ended with a award ceremony. Mr Buffet was presented with the UC Berkeley Financial Reporting Award – recognizing individuals in financial reporting that have demonstrated courage, leadership, and stewardship in the interest of providing financial information useful to investors in making investment decisions. The event ended with a lunch with Mr.Buffet and a long photo session. He was very approachable and let all of us get some pictures with him.
The last event of the day was a meeting with Mr.Donald Wurster, President of National Indemnity. Mr.Wurster is a graduate of the EWMBA program at Haas. He answered several questions about the insurance industry and working with Mr.Buffet.
As we rushed to the airport to take our flight back to the bay area, I was really excited. This was a wonderful opportunity for all of us to meet and learn from an individual like Mr.Warren Buffet. I had never imagined that I would be so lucky.
Cheers … Dutta:)