How Warren Buffett became the world’s richest investor
‘Becoming Warren Buffett’ explains how the billionaire’s idiosyncrasies shaped him for success
Known as the “Oracle of Omaha”, Warren Buffett has followed an approach that hasn’t made him very popular among his fellow billionaires: he gave away more than 99% of his wealth to charity.
So far, he has already donated more than $25bn with plans to increase that to more than $100bn.
But how did an odd boy growing up in the corn-and-cattle country of Omaha, Nebraska, become one of the richest men in the world? The answer is surprisingly simple, as you’ll see in the HBO documentary Becoming Warren Buffett. Watch it now »
The documentary goes into detail about the type of person Buffett is and how the characteristics he developed as a child shaped him for success. You’ll also get a unique insight into Buffett as a husband and father, directly from his immediate family.
Buffett was highly competitive and inquisitive as a child. Unlike many kids, he really enjoyed reading and working with numbers.
The young Buffett’s idea of a good time would be to invite his friends around and bet on which marble would reach the drainpipe first when dropped into a bathtub.
He also has a clear memory of his grandmother giving him a copy of the World Almanac and Book of Facts, and he’s still able to tell you that Omaha’s population was 214,006 in 1930, the year he was born.
As a teenager, Buffett also had a rebellious streak and took pleasure in tormenting his teachers.
“At the time, AT&T was the stock that all teachers owned for their retirement. And I decided it would drive my teachers a little crazy if I went and shorted the stock … So I shorted AT&T and brought the confirmation letter to school to show the teachers. They found me a pain in the neck, but they did think I knew a lot about stocks.”
Buffet was 13 years old when he did this.
Between two billionaires
The documentary shows you how close Buffett and Microsoft founder Bill Gates became, and explains why Buffett entrusted his entire fortune to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“Bill’s dad asked each of us to write down on a piece of paper one word that would best describe what helped us the most. Bill and I, without any collaboration at all, both wrote down the word ‘focus’.”
This was a major characteristic of Buffett’s success. When he was interested in something, he would lock onto it with eagle-eye focus and read up on new subjects for up to six hours a day. This hunger to always be learning (and teaching) is something that truly defines him.
The hard knocks
It wasn’t always smooth sailing for the billionaire. In the documentary, you’ll hear from Buffett’s family about his tendency to isolate himself, and how he has mostly lived a solitary life.
“He was a genius. But I think that a genius is by default lonely and isolated,” says his first wife, Susan Buffett.
He was a genius. But I think that a genius is by default lonely and isolatedSusan Buffett
“He’s a loner in a sense and it’s difficult to connect with him on an emotional level because that’s not his basic mode of operation. He was there physically, but he was upstairs reading all the time,” says his son Howard.
There have also been times when Buffett’s reputation have been on the line, and it could have ended him. One acquisition in particular, the Wall Street investment bank Salomon Brothers, almost brought Buffett to his knees. You’ll see why in the documentary – but it can take 20 years to build a good reputation and only minutes to destroy it.
Becoming Warren Buffett puts you on the inside track of the Omaha Oracle’s life. He’ll go down as one of the greatest investors yet, and probably the most generous philanthropist on the planet.
Focus, determination and the insatiable hunger to keep learning are major factors that contributed to Buffett’s success. Once you’ve watched the documentary, you’ll walk away with a sense that there is more to be done, and more to achieve.
This article was paid for by Showmax.