June 17, 2024

Warren Buffett's Speech Will Change Your Financial Future (MUST Watch!)



Published May 14, 2023, 11:20 p.m. by Naomi Charles


In this life-changing speech, Warren Buffett reveals his secrets to success in business and investing. He explains how anyone can achieve financial freedom by following a few simple principles. By applying these principles in your own life, you can change your financial future.

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i'd like to

talk to you about your financial future

and i hope those figures become

applicable to all of you as we go along

and i'd like to start

uh by posing a problem for you

and instead i'm just going to talk for a

couple minutes and we'll do q a because

what we want to do is talk about what's

on your mind but i'd like you to think

about this for just a second

if as we walked out of here today

i said i would like to buy

10 of your financial future

i was going to write you a check today

and

from this day forth

you were going to give me 10 of

everything you earned

how much would you want to charge me for

that

i'm gonna buy one tenth of you

and uh i may take the low bid

incidentally so be careful what you uh

right now well i think if you thought

about that a little while as you

you can contemplate that for a few

minutes you know you're gonna get a

check for me today

and you can do anything you want with

the money but

from this day forth you have to give me

10 of what you earn

i think it would be very foolish

of you

any of

you if you asked for less than say fifty

thousand dollars now it's gonna be a few

years before you're out earning money

and so i've got a few years of dead

money there but then i would start

getting this royalty on you as you went

along so

i really think that if you thought about

it

most of you would want a fair amount

more than that i think you'd be right

fortunately i didn't make this deal with

anybody when i started out so nobody's

got a 10 royalty on me but uh i think

that

50 000 would sort of be the absolute

minimum

and if you think about that

that means that right today

you are worth five hundred thousand

because of ten percent of you is worth

fifty thousand in cash today

your potential

is worth a minimum on 100 basis

of 500 000 that is the big financial

asset you've got it's way more important

what you do with that 500 000 asset that

you own today

then

whether you decide to buy stocks or

bonds or whether you put your money in a

mutual fund or pick your own stocks or

anything of that sort the biggest

financial asset

that you have going for you by miles

is the value of your own earning power

over the years so that's really what you

should focus on if you're focusing on

your financial future

that means you should finance focus on

you

because whether you're ten percent is

worth fifty thousand or a hundred

thousand or three hundred thousand

which would be five hundred thousand or

a million or three million for all of

you

whether it turns out to be one or the

other is really dependent

uh in a very large part on what you do

in the next few years

all of you in this room

have the brains to do extremely well in

life

you've all got the energy to do

extremely well in life and then the

question is how do you apply it

if you've got a 200 horsepower motor

you get 200 horsepower out of it you get

your full

potential or do you get 100 horsepower

or 50 horsepower

now there's two things that can

hold you back in getting the full

horsepower out of your your engine

whatever it may be all of you have big

enough engines

and one of those is a lack of education

but that probably isn't going to happen

to very many people in this room if you

did have a lack of education if you

didn't have a chance to get a decent

education in life it wouldn't make any

difference what that potential was

because

you'd never unlock it

but the second most important thing

and equally as important

is in terms of the habits that you

develop in terms of what you do with

yourself

when we

hire people we look for three qualities

we look for integrity we look for

intelligence and we look for energy

but if they don't have the first one

integrity the other two will kill you

because if you're hiring somebody

without integrity you really want to be

dumb and lazy don't you i mean you're

the last thing in the world you want

forms to be smart energetic so

smart and energetic only goes with

integrity

you know you make your own decision on

that you can't change

your iq or how far you control football

or how high you can jump or the color of

your hair very easily but you can

elect

to have integrity that matches anybody

else's and if you match that with

intelligence which you have and energy

which you have

uh you will get an extraordinary result

and you'd be very foolish to sell me 10

of yourself for 50 000. on the other

hand

if you don't match it with that your

potential will in a significant part go

unused

and i'll give you a little

simple test to apply in terms of

thinking about the kind of habits you

want to develop because you can have any

habits you want to be you can be you can

be lazy you can be prompt you can be you

can be

late you can be honest you can cut

corners i mean you have all these

choices

and those are choices for you to make

nobody else is going to make them for

you

and i would suggest that you play this

little game with me too

uh think about the person you would most

like to be in life

so maybe it's one of your contemporaries

maybe somebody a little older but pick

out the person you admire the most the

person you'd change places with if you

could

and then write down why you admire them

just put it on a piece of paper

and then figure out the person that you

would

least like to change places with who

really turns you off who do you find

repulsive

and list the reasons why

that person turns you off so much

and put those down on the other side of

the paper

and then look at that list

and you'll find that everything on the

left-hand side what you admire in other

people

the qualities they bring to life

um cheerfulness you know generosity all

kinds of things you'll find those are

things you can do yourself it's very

simple

you gotta apply yourself but the habits

you form and doing that early on will

carry you through life and on the other

hand you'll find that the things that

make people repulsive

selfishness obnoxiousness all these

things egotism

are things

that no one has to have if you find

those in yourself you can get rid of

them as long as you get rid of them

early so

all i suggest is that you write you

write down a list of what what you

admire what you find uh

contemptible

and decide that you know the ones on the

on the

at admired side are ones you're going to

acquire for yourself and if you do that

when you're young it'll carry you

through the rest of your life this

doesn't work if you do it when you're 50

or 60. by then the habits are too well

formed

uh but if you do it early

behavior becomes becomes a habit so

if you do that

two or three years from now if you go

through the same exercise

you'll find out the person you admire

the most is yourself

that can be a little dangerous under

some circumstances but it uh

but it's not it's not a bad thing i mean

you want to be somebody you like

and you don't want to be somebody that

you're that you dislike and and

form those habits early

you basically can't miss now i'll give

you one other small piece of advice

that's just a corollary on this

and then we'll get to your questions and

and that is as a general matters of one

piece of specific finance

financial advice

i would say you know avoid credit cards

just forget about them

uh we're in various businesses that

issue credit cards the american public

loves credit cards but if you start

revolving debt on credit cards you're

going to be paying

18 or 20 percent and

you can't make

progress in your financial life going

around borrowing money at 18 or 20

percent

you can make a lot of money by lending

it out at 18 or 20 over time you know if

you can find anybody that's good that

will borrow from you but you don't want

to be on the side of the equation

that's always behind in life

uh you know i was lucky i'd saved about

ten thousand dollars by the time i got

out of school that ten thousand dollars

was

really worth millions i might have

earned later on because after you get a

family and everything the expenses roll

in but but those were my tools to work

with but it was only because i was ahead

of the game if you're behind the game by

ten thousand dollars at some point and

paying eighteen or twenty percent

interest on it you will never you know

you'll never get out of it so the trick

i've got a partner that says

all i wanna know is where i'm going to

die so i'll never go there you know and

uh

and that's true in financial matters as

well you want to figure out where you

don't want to be

uh ahead of time and avoid that and i

get about a dozen letters a day

from people who are having terrible

problems

and there are two reasons why they have

terrible problems one is

a number of them have had health

problems of some sort i mean they have

really been hit by some or somebody in

their family has been hit by some kind

of catastrophic

illness and that is a you know it's a

terrible thing to happen to any family

and they get in

they run up bills they can't pay and and

really only society can solve that one

uh uh in terms of protecting people

against that that's just plain bad luck

but

the other one is from people who run up

credit card debt and

they're facing bankruptcy here they've

been through bankruptcy once before and

they owe a whole bunch of money and they

can't they can't pay the interest let

alone pay any principal

and half of my letters come from people

like that and that that that problem is

avoidable catastrophic illness is not

but but uh

credit card debt is something you bring

on yourself and

it's way better

it's way easier to stay out of trouble

than to get out of trouble financially

and and uh i will guarantee you if you

run a big credit card that you will be

in trouble

uh probably the rest of your life in

terms of uh your financial situation on

the other hand if you get ahead of the

game

uh even it's on a very modest scale

so that money is coming in from

investing

and you're you're

people owe you money or equities owe you

ownership

uh you'll be way ahead of the game

compared to paying it uh being always

being paying

your creditors every month so my advice

to you is uh

if you can't pay for it don't buy it and

uh get yourself in a position where you

can pay for anything and

then we'll be glad to see it borsheims

or nebraska furniture market

now let's uh

let's have some questions

do we have a mic out there that

people can either go to or that travels

around or

anything that's on your mind ask about

don't don't don't be bashful

yeah how would you advise people who

aren't necessarily going into a career

field in which you would make a

large base salary such as like medicine

or

something like that maybe

performing arts or

music

how would you advise us to

keep up financially with the rest of the

world

well

it is true

that a market system

does not pay as well in some in some

activities as

as might seem appropriate

for the importance of those activities

the society just take teaching for

example i mean teaching does not pay

well

and what could be more important i mean

you know you've got to be as

as interested in who you're

the teachers of your children are as who

your accountant is or you know whatever

or who's winning the heavyweight title

of the world or that sort of thing but

it doesn't pay well and and

it's a fundamental choice uh whether

you're going to go into something for

many people it'd be a fundamental choice

whether you're going to go into

something you love or something to to

try and make a lot of money i think that

generally it pays to go with what you

love

i think that

it's very hard to find people

when they get to be my age

who say they're on that they've loved

what they've done all their life and

feel was very worthwhile

but they're terribly sad they made that

choice because they didn't make a lot of

money i i don't think anybody's ever

ever said that to me that they wish

they'd gone into something else where

they were uncomfortable doing it or

didn't enjoy it didn't feel very

productive but made a lot of money so i

don't i don't think you'll find

that so i would i would i would go to

work

in whatever turns you on it may turn out

that it'll it'll be more profitable than

you can think but

almost everybody here will make

enough money unless they get some

terrible habits along the way

to do reasonably well and doing

reasonably well in this country

really is

is uh is pretty darn good i mean

it is

it's not necessary to have

uh huge amounts of money in order enjoy

yourself i enjoyed myself when i was at

my ten thousand dollars and i live in

the same house that i lived in when i

was making when i had about that i

bought it 41 years ago i like the house

then i like the house now i mean

if you think about it

if you have a reasonable job

you'll be eating at mcdonald's and i'll

be eating mcdonald's so we're we're to

push on on on food i mean you know in

fact i hope it's dairy queen actually

and

uh and if you come to dairy queen you'll

see me and you can order anything on the

menu i can order we both can afford it

uh

you know you'll you'll wear the same

clothes i wear i'll pay more for my

suits but as soon as i put them on they

look cheap on me so we'll look about the

same and

we'll both live in the same kind of

houses i live in that house from 41

years ago and it's it's it's warm in

winter and it's cool in summer and it's

comfortable

and you'll live in a house that's that's

similar and then and what difference

does it make if you have 50 more rooms

or you know guest houses or all that

you know it'll probably just bring you

problems i mean you have to worry about

the about the greenskeeper or something

when you get through so i i i have been

in the houses of people

uh where the houses are worth um

oh probably 200 times

uh what my house is worth and i would

not be any happier in those houses at

all in fact i'd be less happy i just

have one more thing to

to worry about and you know the

dozens of people around the place and

people quitting and people stealing from

you and all kinds of things to hell with

it now uh

we drive we'll drive the same kind of

car in fact you'll probably drive a

better car i drive our cars about eight

years old i don't know what it's worth

now but it gets me around fine i mean

i'm perfectly happy we'll watch

we'll watch the same television you know

we'll we'll work on the same computer

pretty much the only difference will be

how we travel long distances you know

i will

fly in a plane that's

more comfortable than

than flying southwest airlines or

something and which uh i've got nothing

against but that's the one real big

difference and other than that i do what

i like every day i hope you you'll do

what you like every day to do and i work

with nice people i hope you work with

nice people uh

and there's 24 hours in the day and

those are where the hours go so

great wealth

is the tiniest bit different

uh in a real sense than having just a

decent

a decent income and

and to trade

a decent income

and something you love doing and

something where you feel worthwhile

doing it

for

huge wealth where you trade off a lot of

your principles

uh would be a terrible mistake

would you not acknowledge your success

more on yourself or from the help and

teachings of others

well i had i had

i was very lucky in life

uh if you tell me who your heroes are i

i will

make a pretty good prediction about how

what you're going to do and i i i had

the right heroes i was very lucky in

life and uh my heroes never let me down

and started with my dad

and then i had others in business and

so i have had

great teachers some formal teachers some

that were just

informal teachers teachers by instinct

or example

and

if i hadn't had those

uh

you know my life i'm sure would have

been very different if i'd been born

anyplace else when i was i was born in

1930

uh and

at the time

one out of 50 births in the world were

in the united states so i came in

against 50 to 1 odds against being born

in the united states

i would have i would have been a

disaster you know if i'd been born in

afghanistan or

or peru or some place i mean i was

extraordinary today i was born you know

by being born in this country so have

you

uh i mean you you

the odds were probably 40 to 1 against

you being born in this country and that

were

five times more likely to have been born

in in china six times four or five times

more likely you've been born in

in india or some other place where it

would not have been as easy

to exploit the full potential of your

talent so we've all won the lottery in

that respect and and that's just plain

luck i mean it and i was lucky to be

born at this time i mean capital

allocation

is something

that pays off extremely well in the

society now but it doesn't pay off in

other societies and it didn't pay off

you know many years ago my my friend

bill gates says that if i was been born

a few thousand years ago i'd have been

some animals lunch you know

i i can't run very fast and i can't

climb trees and you know i just happen

those are talents

nobody asked me to climb trees now but

uh there was a time when it might have

been important and incidentally bill

would have been some animals breakfast i

mean he can't run so fast either but uh

in any event uh

you know

we are lucky i mean just imagine being

born a couple hundred years ago with

exactly the same talents and how far

they would have taken you then you know

the average person today lives so much

better than the richest person lived

100 or 150 years ago so

uh

i'm lucky in that respect lucky to be

born of terrific parents i was lucky to

be raised in omaha in a in a great

public school system i got a start here

in the first eight grades

that gave me a foundation that later

when i went off the track a few times uh

carried me through because i had a

terrific grade school education

in right here in omaha and rose hill and

one of the reasons

i had it incidentally is kind of

unfortunate but i had that great

education

uh in part

because women were being

enormously discriminated against and so

a woman at that time

could be a teacher she could be a

secretary she could be a nurse

you know and that was about it so he had

a half the talent pool in the united

states

limited to just a few jobs so you had an

abundance of talent

uh in those activities like nursing or

teaching because

uh that talent with males was spread

across every act every form of work

activity there was but with women it was

concentrated in a few areas and that

that benefited me it's kind of sad

because it didn't benefit those teachers

but but i was very lucky and

i've really been that way

uh all my life and what i do

is what i do is important as you know

what a good teacher does or a good nurse

does or something of the sort you know i

think that's quite questionable it pays

off enormously well in a market economy

like the united states and but that's an

accident didn't have any do any innate

ability of mine

mr buffett technology has been a great

factor in um stimulating the world

economy what are your predictions for

the future of the technology industry

and what what is its future role in

world economy and the united states

economy yeah well it's there's no

question it's turning the world upside

down it's it's done done it somewhat

already but

it will you know it's just beginning but

it's moving very fast i met gates on

july 15 1991 i was out there for a

fourth of july

uh

celebration with a friend and uh

who subsequently died in greenfield of

the washington post and she took us down

to visit the gates family

and

he tried to educate me about high tech

and he'd had better luck with

chimpanzees i mean i i was i was really

a disaster but but he's a good teacher

but one thing he told me was that

at the time he said you know you've got

this model in your head of the world

and your model

has

time and distance

as very limiting factors and he said

they aren't limiting factors anymore he

said you know the cost

of talking to somebody around the world

or getting your message in front of

somebody or publishing is it's going to

be zero and they're so close to zero it

doesn't make any difference you know

that was revolutionary

but it's happening already in a in a

very very big way and

it's just uh what eight years later

and and it's it's exploding so

high-tech

information technology whatever you want

to call it

is changing the world

and it's going to change it in a very

very big way it'll change i mean that's

one of the things i think about in

businesses we buy uh we announced the

purchase uh yesterday

of a uh furniture retailer in in in

boston in the boston area

and you know i think to myself what

effect does this new world have in terms

of the internet on furniture retail i

mean you have to think about questions

like that

the changes will be huge i will i played

bridge yesterday

uh with people

uh all over the country but i played it

with people all over the world i just

sit down on my computer and i've got

some popcorn there and i'm in khakis and

a sweater and i i can have a bridge game

in 30 seconds with people all over the

world and

no cost to it basically you know that's

a lot different than trying to arrange a

game with four people in omaha you know

on a day when one guy wants to play golf

another wants to watch baseball and i

mean it's it it just it changes things

in huge way

uh

we are very fortunate i mean it's

in the degree to which the united states

leads the world in this area i mean we

have a lead

it's hard to think of who's in second

place

and 15 or so years ago

this country had an inferiority complex

it'd be hard for you to remember because

you weren't old enough to be around them

but in the in the early 80s

we were wondering whether the germans

and the japanese were going to own

everything and that they were going to

make all the steel and they were going

to make all the cars

and everything else and the television

sets and we were going to flip

hamburgers that was the standard line

and just imagine in a short period like

15 years how that's changed around

in an important way that's changed

because of this

information uh a revolution uh where we

like i said i don't know who i don't

know who you would name as being in

second place in the world but here's the

most important industry in the world

and the united states has this

incredible position and we're moving all

the time with that position so

i think that

argues for a very

i think it argues for a terrific future

for the world over time and i think it

argues even more for a terrific future

for this company a country

what are the best ways for youth to get

started now in securing their financial

future

for

for what to secure their financial

future

for you youth oh well it's not it's not

very complicated

it goes back to

getting full use out of your own talents

first

i mean the difference between whether

you're going to be earning x or 2x or 3x

a year

20 years from now

is going to be a function

of how well not how much talent you have

but how how well you use the talents you

already have

and uh so that is

the your best financial future

is your own ability and and

and your

uh a capacity to

to use those abilities to their

potential

and

they can't take that can't be taken away

from you they can't even tax it

i mean uh you know most things if if you

wanna you know a piece of real estate if

they double the taxes they double the

taxes and that changes your ownership in

the property because now in effect the

taxing authorities own more of it

because they've got a greater command on

the revenue stream uh the same thing

about

uh almost any asset you have uh

but

they they don't tax what's in your head

and they don't tax

your ability to

start performing when you when you get

to work in the morning and finish in the

evening

to to your potential one of the things

that amazes me

is how people who really do perform well

just sort of jump out at you once you're

running a business when i got out of

school i thought you know everybody

would behave that way but they don't

most people sort of go

go through life in a sleepwalk and

and it if you don't

you will stand out so

the big the biggest thing for your

financial future is yourself now

beyond that it is always being ahead of

the game rather than getting behind the

game it's saving a little no matter how

you do it i mean i delivered papers i

worked at pennies i sold golf balls i

had a pinball machine round i did a lot

of things

that enabled me to accumulate about ten

thousand dollars by the time i got out

of school

uh

10 000 doesn't go as far now as it did

then but it

having anything so that you're ahead of

the game and not getting behind the game

is enormously important i mean just

you know if you're gonna run 100

yard dash against a bunch of people in

life

if you can figure it out so that when

the gun goes off you're 10 or 15 yards

ahead

instead of 10 or 15 yards behind it's

going to make an enormous difference in

how that race comes out so

uh

having having some net

resources

doesn't make much difference whether

they're in stocks or bonds in my view

but uh

and not having debt

when that gun goes off when you get out

of school

is a huge plus over being behind the

game and uh

uh

you know

it may come from delivering a paper out

in the morning it may come from

part-time work someplace but

but put aside a few dollars for yourself

but

uh so that when the time comes and you

enter

you enter the workforce uh you're ahead

of the game and not behind and then once

you get there don't get behind by buying

a whole lot of things that you figure

you're going to pay for some day while

you're paying 20 interest in between

i was wondering with the increasing

costs of education today what can

students do to deal with their debts

once they're out of college

well that's a tough one i mean i guess

i'd pay it off as fast as i could and i

would incur as little debt as as

possible in before that time came and i

would say this

in my experience

in business

there is very little difference

if any

between a very high priced business

education and what's available a lot for

a lot less money so i i

i went to the university of nebraska at

lincoln

my last year in college i went to

wharton for a couple years before that

i learned just as much at the university

of nebraska as i did at wharton uh

and there's nothing against wharton i

mean it's just me we had a very good

school here i had some terrific

professors at lincoln

and so i i would not assume

that if i was paying a few thousand

dollars for an education

uh here in the state for example versus

paying huge amounts elsewhere

that it was going to make a lot of

difference uh

most of a lot of the education

uh and you need to be prodded in the

right direction but an awful lot of it

is is itself

is self-taught done

uh

i mean andrew carnegie did a wonderful

thing in this country in terms of

libraries and i used to spend a lot of

time at libraries i can get locked in at

the university of omaha one what was

then the university of omaha and they

had

i couldn't get out for hours and one

night i got so entranced with what i was

reading but it

there's there's all kinds of information

available now with the internet it's so

much you know easier than it was then so

uh it's out there to be taken

and

it isn't necessary to pay

30 or 35 000 a year to go to some

big name school

to get the education at all i mean if

you're going to learn accounting if

you're going which is probably the most

important course you'd take in business

if you're going to learn account you can

learn accounting absolutely as well

in my view going to you and always going

to

harvard i mean i see

i bet on that and

i wouldn't run up

huge bills

in terms of getting a business education

now you know if you're going to get a

medical education

i mean there's certain professions where

there may not be any way around

spending a fair amount of money and

getting in debt to some degree you've

got to make that decision yourself but

i'd certainly try to minimize it

and uh

and i would sort of i would have it

figured out

how i would handle that debt in say a

five-year period after i got out of

school or i would think twice about

incurring it

what advice would you have for a forming

non-profit organization

for forming a non-profit organization

well i've always tried to avoid forming

non-profit organizations

uh well that would that would depend

entirely on what i wanted to accomplish

i mean it you know it'd be one thing it

was a hospital it could be another thing

uh you know

there's a there's so many types of it so

i you know you've got to get people that

are

that are experienced and involved

uh

in an entity like that and uh

but it depends so much on the on the

objective uh

you're working at uh

i understand that you're very civically

involved and i was wondering how

important of a quality you think that is

for an individual in life and why

yeah well i wouldn't say that i am that

i mean i i do certain civic things i

think i think

your model as a citizen for example in

online would be walter scott i mean he

is far more civically involved than i am

and uh incidentally his predecessor

peter kiewit was too but walters carried

it to new heights so i uh i don't want

to

take

uh on any mantle for that myself i do

some things uh

one of the problems i have is i love

what i do so much that

that it sort of takes over i mean i'm

like a guy that likes to play a lot of

golf or something except i like i like

the business i'm in but

uh i've got a family that participates

very actively uh uh some of my children

work on almost anything that comes along

in the civic area and

you know it's

you do

in the end people do what they want to

do to quite a degree and and uh

i think

i've never talked to anybody that

that enjoyed working in civic activities

that didn't feel was very worthwhile

after they've done i mean they've built

something and participating in building

something is always

a lot of fun and actually you have a

good time we have this golf tournament

for example in

september and we raise some money for

something but everybody has a good time

so nobody's paying any price by doing it

i'm having a good time the people who

come are having a good time

and uh we get to show all more off to

people

but

you should be enjoying things that go

along and you will if you work in civic

activities that that

that interest you and you can do the

same thing in politics i mean

if you find political ideas or

or politicians who particularly

uh

you identify with turning on you can get

a lot of self satisfaction out of out of

working and you're doing something

worthwhile so i

just just follow your instincts on that

that'd be my recommendation

i have question what do you see as the

problem the biggest economic problem

facing

the youth of today going into the future

yeah i don't think you that

you're going to have enormous economic

problems i think you will live in a

society

where the average person

uh lives better

by a significant margin

than the average one of a generation

earlier or two generations earlier

that's been the history of this country

it's a marvelous country that way i mean

it when you think of it we have four and

a half percent of the world's population

you know and and what's been

accomplished here is incredible 53

percent of the

of the value of corporations that are

publicly traded in the world exist in

the united states with four and a half

percent of the population this country

always

has done well uh

they say in stocks

that you should buy stock in a business

that's so good that even an idiot can

run it because sooner or later one will

and and

that's not terrible advice well that

seems to have been sort of the history

of this country from time to time i mean

we've

we've had all these problems that have

come along if you look back in the last

hundred years and list all the problems

those countries run into you know you

make a very long list and a lot of

people who focused on those problems at

the time have missed the bigger picture

and the bigger picture

is that every generation was better than

the one before

and that's because of uh

that's because of

savings because savings enable people

to create new tools to do better things

as they go along and it's also

due to an environment

that lets people realize their potential

to a greater degree than most other

environments in the world it's far from

perfect i mean it's it's sad how far it

is from perfect but it is better than

anything else

around i mean in this country uh you've

got

you don't have some commissar or

something running a

you know a big business in this country

you've got a guy like jack welch and a

fellow like jack welch makes

a difference of night and day

in terms of the productivity of that

business over a period of decades and

productivity is what a

is what causes the standard of living to

rise so anything that a system that

throws up the jack welch's of the world

to run businesses

is going to have an enormous advantage

over a society that does it by heredity

or that does it by government edict

and we've got

we're closer to that society

that i've described than than anything

than any other country and it's

it's led to great things and it will

continue to lead to great things so i

think i think you've got the best future

uh you know you don't face you don't

face a war

and you've got a you you've got a a

great

uh you've got a better future in terms

of achieving material rewards than any

generation in history so

i wish i could trade you places

i was wondering if you or if you could

speak for mr gates were afraid of

the impact on y2k on the economy or

specifically the stock market yeah well

i'm i'm i'm glad you gave me a chance to

bring in other people because i i'm the

last guy in the world understanding

about y2ki you know i don't know why

this microphone's working i don't know

you know why lights go on

i i flip on the switch of my television

set and pray i mean it's all

it's all beyond me but

i would say this the smartest people i

know in that area

uh in large part think it's going to be

a non-event it

uh in this country i don't i can't speak

for the rest of the world but uh uh so i

think uh

i think you'll wake up on

january

first and find the world hasn't changed

from december 31st now i would say this

you might you might get a whole bunch of

friends to write your checks for a

billion dollars on december 31st and

deposit them and you know who knows

what'll happen can't lose anything i

mean i'm not going to do his bounce and

if the system gets followed up you know

you might find a lot of money in your

account but i wouldn't count on it then

wait we have a

we own a company called executive jet

we have about 14 or 1500

uh customers who own pieces of airplanes

with us and we so we've got a hundred

and

well we got 160 of their planes and some

of our own flying around it'll be very

interesting to me to see

what the

advance people let us know ahead of time

when they want to use it it'll be very

interesting to see how many

sign up for

january 1st at

1201 but

it wouldn't bother me to fly him in the

least on january 1st or do anything else

on january 1st

ideally i hope the getting prepared to

watch the huskers play in

the big game

and i was wondering how do you decide

what you invest your time and money in

yeah well i i i like to find

businesses that have good economics now

what what are good economics well good

economics are a business that has

some kind of a moat around it

that makes its product or its service or

its location or something

a little more

desirable than to the customer than any

other sort of comparable product you

know the number one candy bar in the

last 30 or 40 years has been snickers

people don't fool around with different

candy bars they fool around with

different

length dresses they flew around you know

with all kinds of things but they don't

fool around with candy bars because they

figure you know they're going to go in

and lay out 50 cents or whatever it is

and put it in their mouth and

they're not going to for 50 cents and

putting in your mouth i mean you're not

going to say i'll i'll put in lay out 45

cents and put something else in my mouth

so you find that very stable

and we like businesses that we think we

can figure out where they're going to be

in 10 or 15 years i don't know where the

information technology businesses are

going to be in 10 or 15 years i know

where snickers bars are going to be in

10 or 15 years they're going to be

selling just about you know the way they

do now i know where wrigley's gum is

going to be in 10 or 15 years there's

not going to be a lot of innovation

in in chewing them and people the

internet's not going to cause people to

quit chewing gum either i mean at least

i mean gates may think so but i don't

think so

but

it's predictability

regarding the sustainability of a

competitive advantage some something

special about a product so we look for

those kind of products and then we look

for people that are running the business

that are honest

and able

it's easier to find people that are

honest and able than it is to find

businesses that are going to stay

wonderful for a long period of time

there are a lot of business that looked

like they were going to stay wonderful

but really evaporated over time but

that's what we're looking for and the

nice thing about is we don't have to

find very many if we find one a year

that's terrific

because you don't you don't need a

hundred or a thousand great investment

ideas to do well

you need a couple

and

if we the discipline

is the most important thing we don't

need brain power

we need discipline

you don't need 150 iq to do what i do

thank god you know you don't need 140

you know 135 you may need 115 or

something like that and

and but you do need discipline you have

to wait until you see the fat pitch to

swing at

because investing is a no-call strike

game you know if i were a baseball

player and i only like pitches

two inches above my navel

you know some guy could learn that and

he could pitch me you know three or four

inches below that and i get called out

on strikes because i never find a pitch

i like you can get call out on strikes

in baseball you have to swing at pitches

that you you don't even necessarily like

particularly after the count gets to two

strikes

in business

you don't have to swing on anything you

can sit there and

the paper says general motors at 68 or

it says general electric at 115 or so

general dynamics at 63.

and if you don't like those prices you

don't have to swing you can wait there

day after day after day after day and

there are no called strikes

now when you swing when you decide to

buy something

then you know if you swing and miss it's

a strike but

it's a marvelous game to be in because

there are no called strikes and you can

simply wait for that one time

in a month or six months or a year or

two or three years when you really know

what you're doing where you like the

price or you like the people running the

business

and then you swing and you only need a

few swings in your lifetime

so that's the way we try to pick

businesses we try to stay with things we

understand

i mean there can be all kinds of

wonderful investment opportunities out

there that i don't understand i don't

know what cocoa beans are going to do

next year you know maybe you know but i

don't know i i don't know what i don't

know what uh crude oil is going to sell

for

but

i don't have to know

i just have to know the things i have to

know what i know

i have to know where the limits of my

understanding are what i call

what my circle of competence is

and if i'm only able to evaluate five

percent of the businesses in the world

no problem i just stay within that five

percent and try and find something

uh and that's most people get in trouble

because

in investments because they

well they get itchy you know they can't

discipline themselves and they hear

about other people making money nothing

upsets people so much as to hear about

their friends making money i mean it's

that that's very destructive to

discipline because they think i'm smart

on that guy next door and he just just

bought that new car with the money made

trading stocks on the internet so why

can't i well the answer is you can't

overcome time you will lose money to

trade stocks actively

and uh

it's it's hard to exercise the

discipline

but anytime you buy something

you should be able to take out a

one-page sheet of paper

and say i'm buying general motors it's

65. i'm buying general electric 150

because

and you should write down the reasons if

you can't you can't fill out the sheet

if it's because somebody told me about

it at a cocktail party last night that's

not good enough

if it's because my broker told me about

it that's not good enough

yeah it's uh you've got to have a reason

for thinking that it makes an

intelligent investment you do the same

thing if you're buying a farm or an

apartment house if you're buying a farm

you'd say i'm buying this farm with a

thousand dollars an acre because i think

i can earn 60 an acre on it if corn

cells and such and such and soybean

cells and such and such and yield as

such and such and you'd figure it out

that's the same reason you buy

businesses and when you buy stocks

you're buying a little piece of a

business

and that's probably the most important

thing to remember in investing is that

when you're buying a stock you're buying

a little piece of the business and

if you are buying it at an attractive

price for the business for the whole

business you're going to make money and

if you aren't

you know over time you won't make money

um reverend jackson jesse jackson talked

to us earlier he seemed to believe that

the moral standards of today's society

will eventually affect us in business

how do you feel this will affect us as

youth growing up in the united states

well i think

very difficult to

quantify

moral standards over time i mean that

you know you could you could pick out

huge weaknesses at any given time in

terms of how

people or the country is behaving and

and and huge strengths so i think it's

enormously difficult to quantify

uh i think

by and large we have made

progress in what i would call

institutionalized moral standards

in this country

i mean the the the

uh you know in terms of slavery in terms

of the uh in terms of i mean the women

women couldn't vote you know a century

ago

half the country were second-class

citizens in that respect in a very and

they had much lesser rights in terms of

inheritance and all kinds of things the

income tax

didn't exist

a hundred years ago so the idea of

taxing people according to

to how much that they benefited from

society and their income

uh didn't exist so i think in terms of

institutionalized moral standards

the country has made

really quite significant progress uh

in the in the last hundred years i think

you know there's an enormous distance to

go i think we're going in the right

direction maybe by fits and starts but i

think we're going in the right direction

and i think that

it will be a significant plus to

everybody in this room if they live in a

more moral society 40 years from now

than a less moral but i think the odds

are that they will

i think the country moves in that

direction very difficult to do it all

kinds of interests that

work against it but

uh in the end i think the american

people want it

and you saw it in civil rights i mean it

took television to dramatize what was

going on and

people that weren't near it preferred

not to think about it

but it got through to the conscience of

the american people

and

a lot of progress has been made there

and there's a lot left to be made but

there it's better than it was

and the pace may seem very slow to those

people involved and i can understand

that

uh

the pace you know for women's suffrage i

mean that went

for decades and decades and decades a

woman could be on a jury

i was reading the trial of clarence

darrow

which took place in california about 19

i don't know 10 or 11

you know there were no women on the jury

the woman wasn't allowed to be on a jury

they weren't citizens in that sense so

it's the moral

behavior of the country has in my view

improved but it uh and it'll continue to

improve and i hope you all in this room

do your part to help it improve

i was

wondering how uh since the stock

market's so high right now if it'd be

smart for us to get

to get involved now or to wait until

until it goes down a little or what

yeah i can't tell you whether or not to

buy stocks now generally i think it's

important that you save money you know

and whether whether you put in the stock

market

i don't think is terribly important i

think if you're interested in stocks you

should you should buy it you know and

you've got a little capital you should

buy a few i mean i don't think there's

any way of learning about them better

than experiencing doing it on paper

isn't the same

i can guarantee you if you lose money on

paper or lose real money it's a

different experience and

i think you'll learn more about yourself

if you do it that way i bought my first

stock

when i was 11. i was actually i was at

rose hill at the time and i bought three

shares of city service preferred

at

38 and it went down to 27 which is

something i still remember even though i

was 11 at the time

uh and then it went up to 40 and i sold

it i made five bucks on my three shares

after commissions and then it went to

200 and something so

uh you know i i probably remember that a

little better than if i'd been doing it

on paper you know

and

i fooled around doing a lot of things

between about age 11 and 19 in the stock

market i did charts i did all kinds of

technical analysis i read every book i

could get on the subject

and

i didn't do that well i didn't do

terrible but i did i was really just

floundering around

but by

that meant by the age of 19 when i read

ben graham's book i was at the

university of nebraska in lincoln i went

and bought this book called the

intelligent investor just come out and

it had an enormous impact on me

now if i hadn't done

in the previous eight years if i hadn't

been all over the lot i'm not so sure

that that book would have had the same

impact on me i mean i was by that time i

was prepared

to read ben graham's book which changed

my life financially in an

incredible way i mean i wouldn't be up

here today if i had read that book but

yeah part of life is getting prepared

so that

when something does happen that's

significant you can grasp the

significance of it and know what to do

with it and

i would say that first eight years of

fooling around

even though it produced nothing

financially to speak of

uh produced a lot in terms of getting my

mind prepared for when i really did read

something that made sense so i was ready

to accept it and i actually went back

and

went to columbia to study under the

under graham and because of

reading that book and all kinds of

things flowed out of it so

i would encourage you if you're

interested in the field to do a few

things i'm still trying to make them as

intelligent as possible i would try to

stick with things businesses i thought i

understood i'd still get out that sheet

of paper and i'd write i'm doing this

because

and just test my reasoning then i go

back and read it a year later and and

see whether what you thought would be

true turned out to be true so i would

always check myself i believe in grading

myself on everything you know doctors

have post-mortems and they they do it

because they learn from post-mortems uh

and business people don't like to do

postmortems building plants or buying

companies and they never wanted two

years later to run a check on how that

decision turned out because it it can be

unpleasant

uh but you learn from postmortems

and uh you don't wanna learn it's way

better learn from other people's

mistakes than your own but you got to

learn from a few of your own too and

the time to do it is when you're young

my question is

to what extent do you feel that the

government

with the the current policies of welfare

and social security is it financially

competent and fiscally prepared for the

future

well i

i think that

the country as a whole is quite

quite well prepared for the future that

doesn't mean i'd adopt would adopt every

policy they have but

i think a we have an enormously rich

society enormously rich society and

it'll get richer

uh everyone isn't going to participate

in that some will won't participate

because of physical disabilities others

because of mental disabilities other

because of shortcomings in the education

they receive when they were growing up

all kinds of reasons

we have a prosperous enough society

to be able to take care of

of those people and we should take care

of them and how we do it so that they

feel most useful in life and how we do

it so that we continue to encourage

people to be more productive themselves

and all that i mean those are not easy

questions but

but that shouldn't take our eye off the

ball of feeling we should do something

about it that

um i often i i pose this problem

sometimes to people i say let's assume

that it's 24 hours before you're born

and all of you can take this test 24

hours before you're born

and a genie comes to you

and the genie says

what was your name again out there

uh whatever

we'll call you joe uh

and the genie says joe

says you look pretty promising to me

i think you've got kind of a sense of

fair play and

and a good mind and so i'm going to let

you have an extraordinary opportunity

i'm going to let you design the world

into which you're going to be born in 24

hours

it's yours

you pick out the political rules you

pick out the economic rules you pick out

the social rules you design the world

and when you're born in 24 hours you're

going to be born into that world

and that's the world that's going to

exist for your lifetime

for your children's lifetime for your

grandchildren's lifetime

and you having heard of some of these

genie jokes in the past would say

what's the catch

genie says well it's a very slight catch

i said when when you're born in 24 hours

you're going to emerge in this world you

designed

but what you don't know

is whether you're going to be born

black or white male or female

rich or poor

brighter

able-bodied or infirm

in the united states or afghanistan

all you know

is that you're going to reach into this

barrel which now has six billion balls

as we know representing one person

every person in the world and you're

going to participate in what i call the

ovarian lottery

you're going to take one ball out of

that barrel and you're never going to

get another ball that's you

you're one ball and now you're going to

emerge

now what kind of rules

do you want to have for that society

not knowing which ball you're going to

get

now that i put to you is the way

i think people should think about social

policy and if you're born if you're

lucky enough to be born in this country

you've won the lottery already

but we should have a system in my view

that encourages the jack welch's and the

bill gates's and all of that to work

far beyond the time when it has any

economic significance to them we want

people commanding those resources who

are extremely able to commanding them

that's how that's how the standard of

living moves forward so we should want

you know we should want tom osborne

coaching in nebraska we should want we

should want bill gates designing

software and we don't want to mix up

those two we don't want to we don't we

don't want to get bill coaching in

nebraska uh so

you want you want people who want a

system that directs gets people to their

potential and and puts them

in the position where they can do the

most good for society but you also want

a system for the people get the wrong

ball i mean somebody's going to get the

ball

you know that says 80 iq somebody's

going to get the ball

that says this disease or that disease

early in life that cripples them and

we've got a rich enough society

that we can we can take care of those

people and i think that to get back to

your question i think that this society

will move more and more in that

direction it has the capability of

moving more and more in that direction

as our resources

and our output increases and i think

that

it has the will to do that in a general

way although like i say there have

always been lots of fits and starts so

there is no shortage

in the united states of resources

there's no shortage of output

you have to have a system that

encourages people

to behave to the limit of their

abilities and puts them in the right

place but then you have to make sure

that everybody gets taken care of too

and i wanted to know how you think the

media affects the world economically

today well it's a small question

uh

well what it obviously does simply

because it's it's moved so far

technologically

is it's brought it together in a big way

i mean i was over in china a few years

ago and i was right after the time of

the women's conference in

in uh in beijing

and i was reading

the chinese

coverage

uh

of that conference and and of course it

it had nothing to do with what was

taking place but the internet was coming

in and and

you know you can

you can access the washington post or

the new york times or i get the

washington post at 9 30 here at night in

effect i never could get it the next day

on on through through uh physical

delivery but i buy electronic delivery i

can read it

uh you know

probably earlier than most the people in

washington are reading it so

the

ability to communicate

and the degree to which the world can

have awareness of what's going on every

place in the world it's just

you know it's been a quantum leap and

you know that will have there are a lot

of things that come out of that and uh

uh

net they're a plus over time but the

they i mean they the

the ability of information to be

available to everyone worldwide almost

instant instantaneously it's it's it's a

can be huge advances in things like

medicine for example just to pick one uh

so

it's a net plus it has a

it has a big effect and

the definition of media has now been

expanded

enormously i mean there were three

television networks in

in the 19 and you know in the early

1960s and that was it there were three

highways information traveled

electronically

and

if the three pieces of information where

i love lucy you know something else and

something else those were the three

choices of information or entertainment

that you had

for tens and tens of millions of people

sitting there looking at a tube

now it's unlimited and that's only what

three or so decades so it's just

exploded and it'll continue to explode

and net i think it's a plus

and i think it's one o'clock i want to

thank you all i i wish you well you're

going to do terrific thanks

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