Last Saturday I gathered with a few close friends (38,000+) to listen to Warren Buffett and his sidekick Charlie Munger answer questions for 6 hours at the annual meeting for Berkshire Hathaway.
Let’s skip past what the news media had to say about the event (yes, there was plenty of coverage).
Here are the 7 things I took away:
1 and 2: Being successful in business requires two absolutes: The ability to lead and motivate people and a solid understand of math and finance.
Leading people requires a consistent display of integrity and clear delineation of the objectives at hand. Warren and Charlie both shared several examples of how this has played out in the various companies they own and the impact it has had.
Key is long-term consistency, and this does not mean merely a quarter or a year — it means years and years.
On the spot (and in the spotlight of several thousand people!), Warren often tumbled numbers in his head at the meeting to reach an answer.
This guy is 80+ years of age, and as I sat there and watched him, I couldn’t help but wonder how many times his ability to run numbers quickly in his head has saved him from making a bad decision.
3. Pick your battles wisely.
During a long discussion regarding executive compensation (Coca-Cola) and the role directors play in guiding a company, Warren was clear about his belief in not chasing every issue.
He believes if you chase every issue, sooner or later people will ignore you. I find this to be relevant in how we lead people. The last thing we want to do is to have those we lead ignoring us when the critical issue arises, all because we spent too much time chasing small potato problems.
4. Social brains impact business brains.
Warren put a great spin on something I’ve always felt, and he conveyed the message far better than I could.
While talking about the role corporate boards play, he said how it can be very difficult to separate the social aspect from the business aspect, so you need to accept it and work within it.
Hopefully, this should add more fuel to the fire when it comes to the importance of leaders understanding those they lead. It’s impossible to completely separate work from home. The way a person acts at home and what they are exposed to away from work will impact what they do at work and vice versa.
5. Ignorance removal.
I had never heard those two words put together like that, but Charlie Munger said there have been many times when a company they’ve purchased has taught them things they need to know.
He called it “ignorance removal.” He also said they still have a long ways to go in that area. I like that because it confirms no matter how smart you may think you are, there are still more things to learn and apply.
6. Don’t hesitate to go against the grain.
Both Warren and Charlie said on many occasions they make decisions that are polar opposite to the norm. Each time they do so, they do it with confidence and the vast majority of time they’ve been proven right.
I find this to be something we simply cannot ever forget as a leader. We must do what we believe is right and not merely do something because that is what everyone else is doing.
7. Here is the item that when Warren said it my jaw dropped. He said, “Business is fun.”
Now we all know Warren has fun, but for him to tell everyone else that business is fun and we should make it fun is not what you will hear from the normal business leader.
I could go on and share another 7 things — or for that matter another 77 things I gleaned last Saturday from Warren — but I’ll save them for another day.
If you own even a “baby” share of the Berkshire Hathaway stock, you can attend the annual meeting. It’s the first Saturday in May in Omaha and it’s capitalism on steroids. More than that, though, it’s the largest business/leadership lecture you will ever really enjoy going to!
Of course, I live in Omaha, so I’m a little biased (and I’m grateful how great the annual meeting is for the local economy!)
Copyright 2014, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price.