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The Mentor I've Never Met: Lessons from Warren Buffett
It's a curious thing, the concept of mentorship in the digital age. What a great time to be alive! As I reflect on the mentors who have had a profound impact on my journey as an investor and corporate leader, one name stands out, shining brightly: Warren Buffett. Today is his birthday, and it seems fitting to dedicate some time to celebrate his enduring influence on so many investors' lives.
I've never met Warren in person, yet he has been a mentor and teacher to me. If you've ever attended a Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting, read any of Warren's letters to shareholders, or discussed value investing with like-minded individuals from around the world via technology, then you understand what I mean. This man's philosophy permeates what many of us consider good and sound investing principles. What is so great to me is that his students range from large institutional leaders to individuals or solo investment firms. I would say that having such a wide array of investor classes that can appreciate Warren’s investment style speaks to the universality of his methods.
The Unique Challenges of Investing
Being an investor is no walk in the park; it's an ongoing journey that demands research, even greater patience, and a strong emotional balance. The last two are more important once your research uncovers opportunities. Time is long when it comes to investing. Whether you're navigating the peaks and troughs of economic cycles or weighing the risks and rewards of your portfolio construction, the key to long-term success lies in discipline. It takes a particular temperament to be willing to walk alone—or at least at a distance from the herd. This is particularly true when it comes to value investing, a practice deeply rooted in Warren Buffett's teachings.
Finding Your Tribe
One of the most rewarding aspects of this journey has been finding like-minded individuals who share a similar investment temperament, philosophy, and core values. We have something invaluable in common: we've all been students in Warren Buffett's virtual classroom. His letters, penned over the decades, are timeless pieces of wisdom that we read and reread, almost like sacred texts.
Thinking in Centuries
I often talk to others about creating a 100-year financial plan, an outlook that already stretches beyond the typical investor's horizon and life expectancy. But Warren, it seems, is thinking in centuries. While many of us are planning for our family, Warren's strategies have the longevity to impact generations yet unborn. His teachings are not just financial strategies; they are observations of human behavior that appear to repeat over the decades.
A Quiet Celebration
Today, on this much-needed daybreak, I'm revisiting Warren’s letters from 1956 to 1970—a small way to honor a man who has had such a lasting impact on my life. The letters are a blend of investment wisdom, simple observations, and timeless insights that make them as relevant today as they were when they were written 53 to 67 years ago.
In an era where information is abundant, but wisdom is scarce, Warren's teachings serve as a guide to filter out the clutter and help to create a quiet environment like a library.
When it comes to meeting some of my distant mentors, I’ll leave room for providence and the mystery of the future as to whether I’ll meet them in person. In the meantime, Warren’s wisdom has been immortalized in his writings and actions, offering invaluable lessons to all who seek it.
So, here's to Warren Buffett—teacher, mentor, and someone who has advanced value investing—wishing him the happiest of birthdays. Thank you for the lessons you've imparted, knowingly or not, to a generation of investors like me, from a distance.
Note: Thanks to my virtual AI for helping me scribe this post based on my detailed notes, personal experiences, and stories of people I’ve met on the journey.
The fall season is around the corner; follow along for more writings in the future.
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