If you don’t know the name Warren Buffett, you must have been living underneath a bridge for the last 50 years, as he is known as a successful business magnate, an investor, and the CEO and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway.
Today, Warren Buffett is worth a whopping $100 billion (as of November 2022), which makes him the world's sixth-wealthiest person. Although he is thought of for his business prowess and successes, he is also a philanthropist and supports a few worthy causes.
The Early Years:
According to Biography.com, Warren Buffett was born in August 1930 in Omaha. His father was a stockbroker and his mother was a stay-at-home mom. He was the only boy out of three children. Since he was a young child, he always had a mind for business and financial matters. In his young years, friends, teachers, professors, and acquaintances thought he was a mathematical wizard, being able to add complex data in minutes.
One of the most profound opportunities he cites is a visit to the New York Stock Exchange when he was just 10 years old. He became intrigued by stocks and found he had a fascination and aptitude for numbers. This soon shifted from mere numbers to dollars.
As he got older, he often visited his father’s brokerage firm, which furthered his love of numbers and introduced him to the stock exchange from an investor’s standpoint. He initially was tasked with updating stock prices on a blackboard.
At the ripe old age of 11, he made his first investment by buying three shares of stock until it reached $40. Though he made a small profit, he regretted selling his shares of stock when it went up to $200 per share. He cites this as an early lesson in investing.
Warren Buffett Becomes an Entrepreneur at 13 Years of Age:
After learning his lesson about holding onto a promising stock with his first investment, Buffett decided that he was ready to begin his own business.
That first business was as a paperboy, who also sold horse racing tip sheets. At the age of 13, he filed his first tax return. He was savvy enough to list his bike as a tax deduction.
When Buffett’s father was elected to the House of Representatives and the family moved to Virginia, he began another business venture. He purchased a pinball machine for $25.00. He thought long and hard about how he could recoup his investment. Then he realized that men waiting for haircuts had nothing to do until their number was called. He made a great profit from his initial $25.00 investment and went on to purchase other machines before selling the business for $1,200.
This was a very good investment for a young man, still in his teens. At this point, Buffet felt he possessed the skills to move forward into the business world, but his father insisted he go to college instead of going right into a business venture.
University Education at an Early Age:
While his dad was serving in the House of Representatives, Buffett applied for the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania at just 16 years old. He continued his studies at the prestigious school for two years, then transferred to the University of Nebraskaschool , where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in business at just 19 years old. He later went to the New York School of Finance.
He received a master’s degree in economics from Columbia University in 1951. During that time, he studied under his mentor, economist Benjamin Graham. He went on to work for Graham for two years as an analyst upon his graduation. He was one of the youngest analysts at Graham-Newman Corp. during his tenure there.
Starting His Career with Berkshire Hathaway:
From 1951 to 1954, Warren Buffett worked at Buffett-Falk & Co as an investment advisor, then in 1956 at Graham-Newman Corp. In 1970 he became chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
Around this time, Warren Buffett found that his mentor, Benjamin Graham, was on the board of Geico Insurance. During an after-hours conversation, Buffett and Geicos VP, Lorimer Davidson talked about the insurance industry for hours. This meeting was the beginning of a lifelong friendship, with Davidson calling him an “extraordinary man,” which he noticed after speaking with him after just 15 minutes.
Buffett returned to Omaha, where he taught night classes at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He found that most of his students were twice as old as he was. During this time, he was making several small investments and trying out different partnerships.
Buffett’s life made a huge turnaround when, in 1962, he became a millionaire because of these partnerships and took hold of a textile giant, Berkshire Hathaway. The firm began acquiring stock in the Washington Post Company.
This was just the beginning. His investments included other print publications and stock in ABC. His purchase of The Coca-Cola Company stock put him on the map. To date, it is one of his most profitable investments, and he still holds the stock to this day.
Warren Buffett Charity and Giving:
In 2008, Forbes magazine listed Buffett as the richest person in the entire world with $62 billion. After donating billions in 2009, he was ranked the second richest man in the U.S. after Bill Gates.
Despite his success and wealth, Warren Buffett continues to live as he always has, well beneath his means. While he lives comfortably with his second wife, Astrid Menks, who he married in 2006 after his first wife passed away.
Buffett has been steadfast in his intention to give away a huge majority of his fortune to charity. In June 2006, he told shareholders that he planned to give 83% of his money to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He then pledged around $10 million Berkshire Hataway stock shares to the foundation, making it the largest donation to a charity in history.
Other charitable contributions include:
- $50 million to the Nuclear Threat Initiative.
- Auctioned off his 2001 Lincoln Town Car to benefit Girls, Inc.In 2007, he auctioned a luncheon with himself that raised a final bid of $650,100 for the Glide Foundation.
- Susan Buffett’s: Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, Susan Alice Buffett's Sherwood Foundation.
- Peter Buffett’s NoVo Foundation
- Dorris Buffett’s Letters Foundation and Learning by Giving Foundation.
In addition, in 2022, Warren Buffett donated $750 million of Berkshire Hathaway stocks to four foundations that are run by his children.
2008 Crisis and Financial Criticism:
Despite his charitable giving, Warren Buffett ran into some brick walls in 2007 and 2008, during the recession, when Berkshire Hathaway experienced a 77% increase in earnings, and many of his other investments experienced losses.
Some savvy investments saw Buffett weather the recession and come out ahead.
- He purchased 10% of perpetual stock from Goldman Sachs.
- He helped Dow Chemical pay for an $18.8 billion takeover of Rohm & Haas.
- In 2008, Buffett bought General Electric preferred stock.
- He retained his Coca-Cola stock, which peaked in 1998 at $86 per share.
His savvy business demeanor led to him being named the richest person in the world with $62 billion by Forbes magazine. Since that time, the top spot has alternated between Buffett and Bill Gates.
Best Warren Buffett Stocks to Buy Now so You Can be a Philanthropist Later:
Many rich people enjoy their wealth but don’t give back. This is certainly NOT the situation with Warren Buffett. If you want to gain wealth so you can give back to worthy foundations and those less fortunate, here are some of his top stock picks according to YahooFinance.com.
- The Kroger Co. (NYSE:KR)
- Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C)
- DaVita Inc. (NYSE: DVA)
- HP (NYSE: HPQ)
- Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI)
- U.S. Bancorp (NYSE: USB)
- The Kraft Heinz Company (NASDAQ:KHC)
Companies Warren Buffett Owns:
As part of the group of companies owned by Berkshire Hathaway, you will notice many names that are familiar to you, which you probably never knew were owned by Warren Buffett and the investment giant that he built.
- Net Jet
- Dairy Queen
- See’s Candies
As an investor, Warren Buffett can donate much of his wealth to worthy foundations because of his investment portfolio, which includes:
- American Express – 19.9% Ownership
- Bank of America Corp – 12.8% Ownership
- Coca-Cola – 9.2% Ownership
- Bank of New York Mellon – 8.3% Ownership
- Apple – 5.6% Ownership
- General Motors – 3.6% Ownership
Are You the Next Warren Buffett?
Warren Buffett was blessed with a successful family, but we’ve also seen many successful people squander their money. Those that strive to be like Warren Buffett, need to learn the lesson that, along with great wealth, comes great philanthropy.
You can also read:
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson