Warren Buffett is one of the most successful investors in the world, which in turn, makes him a person of enormous interest to those who want to earn a profit from investing but still feel that they can benefit by listening to the advice to those with the right expertise and experience. However, it is important to note that there is a lot more to Buffett than his skills as an investor, seeing as how he is also a businessman as well as a famous philanthropist.
In fact, he is one of the three billionaires who first signed the Gates-Buffett Giving Pledge, which is a statement of their intention to donate at least half of their wealth to charitable causes, thus kickstarting a trend among the super-rich. As a result, it could be said that Buffett deserves enormous respect not just for his skills as an investor but also for his efforts to make the world a better place to live in alongside his friend, Bill Gates.
Here are 20 things that you might not have known about Warren Buffett:
1. Financial experts recommend that people start investing as soon as possible because their returns can be reinvested, thus leading to higher and higher earnings over time. In Buffett's case, his interest in investing started after a trip to New York City, where he had the chance to spend some time with a member of the New York Stock Exchange. As a result, he started buying stocks when he was 11 by using the cash that he had earned by delivering newspapers, meaning that he had a net worth of around $53,000 in today's dollars by the time that he was 16.
2. While he was a teenager, Buffet was earning about $175 a month. Although this does not sound like much, it is important to note that the USD had a lot more purchasing power then compared to now because of accumulated inflation, meaning that $175 was a more impressive sum than it sounds. In fact, Buffett was earning more than his teachers as well as most adults at the time.
3. Like most people, Buffett has experienced disappointments from time to time. For example, he had planned to attend Harvard and was so confident that he had impressed the interviewer at his admissions interview that he asked one of his friends to join him at the school. Unfortunately, his confidence was baseless, with the result that he settled on Columbia University, which needed no interview for its admission process.
4. After graduation, Buffett wanted to work for a famous investor named Benjamin Graham, who had authored "The Intelligent Investor." Initially, Graham refused to hire Buffett because he was not Jewish. However, Buffett persevered by continuing to pitch ideas until Graham decided to give him a chance, which was what he needed to establish himself in the world of investing.
5. When he was young, Buffett was absolutely terrified of public speaking, which is not particularly uncommon among people either then or now. To correct this problem, he decided to take a Dale Carnegie course on public speaking, which costed no more than $100 at the time. According to Buffett, his investment paid off because those public speaking skills were what enabled him to propose to his wife.
6. Buffett is famous for his frugality. For example, his house in Omaha, Nebraska is a relatively humble structure with five bedrooms that he bought all the way back in 1956 for $31,500. With that said, it is important to note that the real estate market has changed since that time, meaning that the real estate realities have changed as well. This can be seen in how the house across the street from Buffett will now cost interested individuals more than $2 million.
7. Even now, Buffett likes working in the manner to which he has become accustomed. For example, his office has nothing more advanced than a landline phone, which suggests that he does part of his research using the set of World Book Encyclopedias that can be found on his shelf. Similarly, while he has made some concessions in the sense that he has a cellphone, he still uses one of the old and outdated flip phones rather than one of the latest smartphones. In fact, Buffett has outright stated that he has sent one and only one email in his entire life, which was to one of Microsoft's executives.
8. With that said, Buffett's deliberate distancing from technology provides him with some benefits as well. For example, he has a fair amount of spare time set aside, meaning that he can afford to spend 12 hours a week playing the card game called bridge with other like-minded people. Famously, this is something that he shares with Microsoft co-founder and fellow philanthropist, Bill Gates, with whom he sometimes play bridge and sometimes collaborate on philanthropic endeavors.
9. On a related note, Buffett has stated that he spends about 80 percent of his time reading, which is actually not that unusual when it comes to investors. After all, an investor cannot be confident in their investments unless they understand something about both their quantitative and qualitative status, which must be combined together in order to create a more coherent and thus more useful picture of the situation. Unsurprisingly, Buffett does not invest in companies that he does not understand, which is one of the reasons that he has been traditionally reluctant to invest in tech companies.
10. Buffett's seemingly unstoppable performance as an investor is particularly impressive in light of the fact that he is a notoriously bad eater. For example, he loves guzzling down cherry coke on a daily basis, so much so that his daily consumption of the bubbly beverage is at least five 12-ounce servings. Similarly, he likes ice cream as well as pouring huge amounts of salt on his food by putting one salt shaker in each hand while he pours.
11. Generally speaking, investors have a hard time beating the market, with the result that a lot of investors earn perfectly respectable returns by putting their wealth in indexes rather than individual stocks. In fact, investors have such a hard time beating the market that a lot of financial experts wonder if it is even worth attempting, which is an issue that remains a subject of serious debate in the modern day. Like other investors, Buffett has had both his wins and his losses versus the performance of the market. However, nothing speaks more of his skills as an investor than the fact that he has the single longest streak of beating the market among anyone, more so than all of the other great investors who have come along over the decades.
12. For another example of Buffett's success as a businessman as well as an investor, consider the performance of his conglomerate, Berkshire Hathaway. At the time that he took over the company, its shares were priced at $19 per share. If someone had invested $1,000 in Berkshire Hathaway at the time, they would now be multimillionaires in their own right just on the basis of the appreciation in those shares.
13. Buffett has a personal net worth of more than $70 billion. As a result, he has a bigger net worth than the GDP of entire countries, including some relatively well-known names such as Uruguay. In turn, this means that Buffett possesses a lot of purchasing power, which probably makes it a good thing that he has such a strong commitment to doing good with his money.
14. For an example of exactly how committed Buffett is to doing good with his money, the estimates suggest that he has donated $20 billion so far, which makes him the second most generous donor in the world right behind his friend, Bill Gates. He manages to donate so much money through various means, including rather famously, the chance to bring up to seven people have a power lunch with him, which is something that fetches millions and millions of dollars on an annual basis.
15. In 2013, Buffett is said to have earned an average of $37 million on a daily basis. For reference, this more than what a lot of high earners earn in an entire year. For example, Jennifer Lawrence, who was the second highest-paid actress at that time, earned an estimated $34 million in that entire year, which puts Buffett's enormous earnings and thus enormous wealth into perspective.
16. Buffett has a total of about $15 billion invested in solar and wind energy. Furthermore, he is planning to invest another $15 billion into more solar and wind energy investments. For people who are interested in how they can capitalize on the world's ever-increasing need for energy from non-hydrocarbon sources, this could be a sign of what they should be investing in. After all, Buffet is rarely wrong, which should come as reassurance to even the biggest solar and wind energy skeptics.
17. For most businesses, having too much cash and cash equivalents on hand is seen as a bad thing. After all, while a business needs enough cash and cash equivalents to cover all of its short-term obligations to its suppliers as well as all of the other entities to which it owes money, too much cash and cash equivalents means that they are not being put to more productive uses. However, most businesses are not holding companies like Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, which is said to have an astonishing sum of more than $50 billion in cash at the moment.
18. A lot of strange cases have happened in the world of business, so it should come as no surprise to learn that Buffett has made some impressive sums off of them over the decades. For example, there was once a vegetable oil and salad dressing company that borrowed incredible amounts of money from a number of companies that should have known better by using its oil as collateral. Unfortunately, its collateral was also worthless because it was actually water with some oil floating on top. As a result, the credit suffered severe losses, which in turn, caused their stock prices to plummet. In an excellent example of his contrarian investing, Buffett bought $13 million's worth of shares in American Express, which were worth about $7.8 billion in 2011.
19. Buffett is not a believer in the value of gold as an investment because it has so little use. Technically, this is not true because gold actually does see some use for industrial and manufacturing applications, but the rest of what he says reflects orthodox opinion about the precious metal. After all, its chief use is serving as a hedge for when times are bad but not so bad that people expect an imminent breakdown of social order, meaning that it cannot be counted upon as an earner outside of exceptional periods such as the period surrounding the Great Recession.
20. Despite his avoidance of technology, Buffett has made some concessions. For example, he has been known to play bridge online, which is something that he shares with other people interested in playing a game but find it easier to search online than in real life locations. Similarly, he actually has a Twitter account, with his first tweet reading "Warren is in the house." He also just put a large sum of money into Apple and IBM.
Written by Garrett Parker
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