Words of Wisdom from Warren Buffett

This is a 5 minute video of Warren Buffett addressing a group of MBA students in which he talks about integrity and character.

In the video, he said there were 3 qualities a person he knew looked for when hiring people – integrity, intelligence, and energy.

He said that if a person didn’t have the first two qualities, the last two would kill him.  He explained that if that person didn’t have integrity you wanted them dumb and lazy, not smart and energetic.

Mr. Buffett then asked the group if they could buy into 10% of one of their classmates for the rest of their lifetime, who would they pick?

He said that while you may look at the person with the highest IQ, best grades, or who was the most energetic and had the most initiative, you would most likely look at the person you best responded to.  The one who had the best qualitative factors and leadership characteristics, such as generosity and honesty, and the one who gave credit to others.

He also asked the group, which of your classmates would you short 10%?  He said that probably wouldn’t be the person with the lowest grades, but would be the person who turned you off.  The one you didn’t want to be around.  The one with the biggest ego, the one who was greedy, or was dishonest and cut corners.

Mr. Buffett said to write these qualities down.  On the left side of the page, list the good qualities that you wish to possess, and on the right side list those that turn you off.

He went on to say that you can have the qualities on the left hand side.  They are qualities of behavior, temperament, and character which are achievable and not forbidden to anyone.

He also that you don’t have to have the qualities on the right side of the page, the ones that turn you off, as they are habitual and you can rid yourself of them.  Mr. Buffett said, however, that the earlier you can get rid of them, the better, and summed up this up with the quote, “The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”

Mr. Buffett said he sees too many people with self destructive behavior patterns and they are entrapped by them. These are patterns that turn people off, and as time passes it gets to a point where its hard to change.

Mr. Buffett said that Ben Graham, in his teens, looked at people he admired and wanted to be like, so he behaved like them.  He also did the opposite and got rid of behaviors he didn’t like.

After writing these qualities down, Mr. Buffett said think about them and make them habitual so you will be one you want to buy 10% of.  The beauty, as he said, is you already own 100% of yourself (and you’re stuck with it) so you might as well be the person you want to be.

This is a great video.  As we look to become a better person, we have to take current stock of who we are and identify who we want to be.  To help us, we can look at those people we admire and identify and emulate their qualities. Putting our qualities down on paper forces us to take ownership and be honest with ourselves.

Are you willing to do it?

Leave a Reply