Given how fleeting a financial super-star’s fame tends to be, there’s something comforting about Warren Buffett’s staying power as the “Oracle of Omaha.” (Omaha is Buffett’s hometown and headquarters for his global holding company Berkshire Hathaway.) The straightforward wisdom he’s been sharing for more than 50 years in his annual shareholder letters helps explain the perennial appeal.
I’ve long admired his position on how to invest sensibly over the long haul. After all, he’s the guy who first said (in 1988), “our favorite holding period is forever.” But his insights on human character are always among my favorites, such as these new gems from his recently released 2016 letter.
- “1,000 monkeys would be just as likely to produce a seemingly all-wise prophet. But there would remain a difference: The lucky monkey would not find people standing in line to invest with him.”
- “Ever-present naysayers may prosper by marketing their gloomy forecasts. But heaven help them if they act on the nonsense they peddle.”
- “As Charlie [Munger] says, it’s great to have a manager with a 160 IQ – unless he thinks it’s 180.”
- “[B]ad behavior is contagious: CEOs who overtly look for ways to report high numbers tend to foster a culture in which subordinates strive to be ‘helpful’ as well.”
- “This year the magic potion may be hedge funds, next year something else. The likely result from this parade of promises is predicted in an adage: ‘When a person with money meets a person with experience, the one with experience ends up with the money and the one with money leaves with experience.'”
PS: If you haven’t caught the HBO Special, “Becoming Warren Buffett,” I recommend that too. You have to love an 86-year-old billionaire who still drives by the McDonald’s take-out window on his way to work each morning to “splurge” on an Egg McMuffin®. (Here’s the promo for it. To watch it in full, you’ll need to be an HBO subscriber.)