Warren Buffett, Success and a Secret

Today we’re going to think together about Warren Buffett, boring fundraising and success (but not in that order and maybe not in the ways you expect).

On the Oneicity blog, we’re talking about those difficult times when you have to talk to your donors about a boring topic. It’s an ugly truth that a lot of fundraising is just flat boring. But what’s a pro to do? I have a suggestion that’ll help. You can read about it over here.

Warren Buffett is a new fascination for me. I really didn’t pay much attention to him until a month ago. Wealth and investing aren’t my jam, so I pretty much ignored him. But then a buddy and I were talking about documentaries we loved and he recommended “Becoming Warren Buffett.” So on my last trip, while I was serving time on a hotel treadmill, I spent it grinding out some miles and getting to know Mr. Buffett.

The movie definitely portrays Buffett as a different sorta of dude. He’s exactly like I’d imagined and at the same time not at all what I expected. I like him far more than I’d anticipated.

You’ll see him in the Omaha McDonald’s drive-thru paying for breakfast in exact change (his wife puts it in a cup for him-of course). You can hear the deep emotion as he tells about how he ended up as Chairman of Salomon Brothers during the economic crisis and owed $150 billion. Also, without a doubt, he has a serious  relationship with compound interest (he couldn’t stop talking about it).

The movie’s worth watching to experience him comparing himself to Ted Williams (the great baseball slugger). He describes how unlike a baseball player, he plays in a no-called-strike business. No one will call a strike on him if he passes on a deal or investment that’s not right for him. He can just wait for his perfect pitch (or opportunity).  Buffett does what he is best at and nothing else.  Powerful stuff. I’m still thinking about it for myself and our companies. You’ll want to see what he has to say and think about Circle of Competency for yourself.

But none of that is what Buffett says is a ultimate measure of success.

The Google found that for me. Check out this quote by Buffett from his biography “The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life”:

Basically, when you get to my age, you’ll really measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you.

I know many people who have a lot of money, and they get testimonial dinners and they get hospital wings named after them. But the truth is that nobody in the world loves them.
That’s the ultimate test of how you have lived your life. The trouble with love is that you can’t buy it. You can buy sex. You can buy testimonial dinners. But the only way to get love is to be lovable. It’s very irritating if you have a lot of money. You’d like to think you could write a check: I’ll buy a million dollars’ worth of love. But it doesn’t work that way.

The more you give love away, the more you get.

Turns out, Mr. Buffett is way smarter than I’d thought. It does all come down to love. Of course, that’s far easier to say than do or live day after day.

It’s how you treat people. That’s not what I’d thought he’d say (he really has a thing for compound interest).

What do you think about his line, “The only way to get love is to be lovable”? 

I’m still turning this over in my mind. You know, it’s easy to love people who love us. It’s no picnic to figure out how to love people who don’t treat you well. Or who don’t recognize how lovable you are. Or who mistreat you. Or ignore you.

And he’s right,  turns out you really can’t buy love.  If you try, that always ends badly.

Love isn’t getting much press right now. But I believe real love not the romanticized, anemic Hallmark Card kind of love, is the unstoppable force in the universe. You can bank on love.

Love comes by treating people well. By caring for them. By listening to them. By doing for them. By believing in them. By doing what’s right for them, even when it’s hard for everyone. That becomes the most powerful force, not compound interest or power.

It is all about love.  Take it from Warren Buffett and me.

Are you investing in love?

I’d love to know what you think.

Here’s a couple of other items that caught my eye this week:

In Googling on Warren Buffett, I came across this article on another dude named Buffett who I like and who isn’t what I thought. Read how Jimmy Buffett isn’t Jimmy Buffett any more.

And now there’s a font to help you remember. I have no idea if this is real science or a malarky, but I love fonts, graphics and finding ways to make my brain better. See what you think.

Thank you for all the great conversations about job-shaming from our the last email. I really enjoyed what you had to say. We’ve had some fascinating work experiences, haven’t we? I appreciate you sharing them with me.

Thanks for coming along for this ride, keep me posted, you can just hit reply and find me.

I’m grateful for you.


Steve Thomas
CEO, Oneicity
Partner, Hoots & Thomas Wizard of Ads, Ltd.

Turns out we’re not all that good at taking selfies. 259 people have died worldwide between taking selfies. Here’s the details. Come on people, really. We can do better.

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