The Bledsoe Firm - April 2019

The Bledsoe Firm | 949.363.5551 apR | 2019

T he F oundations of S uccess A Look at Warren Buffett’s Early Years A few months ago, I gave a talk on the life and times of Warren Buffett. I ended up learning quite a bit about one of the richest people alive. I was curious about what made him so successful and how his thought processes worked.

But Howard was an entrepreneur and eventually

opened a brokerage firm with a friend. Despite his father’s success, Warren says that he needed to be financially successful on his own. He witnessed how the Depression had affected his family and never wanted to be in that situation again.

As you may know, Warren is known as the “Oracle of Omaha,” but he has another nickname: “Snowball.” In fact, that’s the title of the 2008 biography written by Alice Schroeder, “The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life.” This month, I want to share some of what I learned from reading about him. Today, Warren is 88 years old. He’s led a life of monumental success. My question going into this was why did Warren succeed? What set him down the path to making billions of dollars? Well, like many of us, a lot of it can be traced back to childhood. The foundation for who Warren Buffett would become was laid very early. He had a strict mother, and she wasn’t always the kindest person. There were times when Warren wouldn’t come home from school right away to avoid her. Instead, he’d go to friends’ homes and find other ways to occupy his time. Warren’s father, Howard, worked at a bank. This was during the Great Depression in the 1930s. The family lived in Omaha, and they were considered fairly prominent. Regardless, they still struggled, like most during that time, especially when the banks closed, including the one where Warren’s father worked.

As a child, his first job was selling packs of gum. Once, someone asked for a single stick of gum instead of a pack. Warren refused and explained that he only sold gum in packs. He quickly formed a mindset about how he wanted to conduct business. It wasn’t long before he began selling Coca-Cola, starting a lifelong love affair with the drink. In fact, his drink of choice today is Cherry Coke. He loves the drink so much that he helped the Coca-Cola Company launch Cherry Coke in China. As part of the initial marketing campaign, Warren’s face actually appeared on the soda cans. ( Interestingly, Warren cites Cherry Coke as the secret to staying young. Even to this day, he has an curious diet, always touting that the sweeter or saltier, the better. At one point, he said he looked into which groups of people had the lowest mortality rates, and the results pointed to 6-year-olds. So, he thought, why not eat the diet of a 6-year-old? In one interview in 2015, he said he drinks five cans of Coke every day. ) Warren bought his first stock at 11 years old. When he sold that stock, he made a profit (buy low, sell high). Then, when he was about 12, he started yet another venture. This time he was selling a horse racing tip sheet. It was handwritten and people bought it. He even filed a tax return and wrote off his $35 bike as a business expense that same year. Of course, like many of Warren’s ventures, he was always on the lookout for something bigger and better. He and a friend once found a broken pinball machine. They fixed it up and took it to a barber in town. There, they made a deal

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