Wednesday, December 24, 2014

5 Lessons From My $650,000 Lunch with Warren Buffett

When Buffett isn't being a crony capitalist, his advice and actions are generally pretty sound-RW

By Guy Spier 

In 2008, my friend Mohnish Pabrai and I sat down with our families for a “power lunch” with Warren Buffett at Smith and Wollensky’s restaurant in New York. Even though I was by then a close follower of Buffett’s, what I learned at that lunch changed my life.
So much so that within a year of having the lunch, I had left New York and the United States to live in Zurich, Switzerland.
Here is some of what I learned:
1. Unconventional is often better
This lesson started for me before we even began bidding for the lunch, the proceeds of which went to charity. My conventional thinking was that it would be an awful lot to pay just for lunch — even it if was with the best investor in history, and the world’s richest man.
But Mohnish helped me to see that, in addition to saying thank you for everything Buffett had taught us, the lunch would really be a master class in investing and life. Moreover, many charitable donations only come with a plaque and a thank-you letter. This one came with the opportunity to meet with and learn from an extraordinary man.
During lunch, I told Buffett that I had used the prospect of meeting him to convince my advisers to allow me to reduce my fees: I did not want to show up as the participant who charged his clients the most. I explained to Buffett how difficult this was for me, despite knowing that it was the right thing to do.
So I asked him, “Does doing the right thing in business get any easier?”
He paused to think about this, then said that it did get a little easier. But he added, “People will always try to dissuade you from doing the right thing if it is unconventional.”


  1. What has Buffett done to make him a crony capitalist? Don't doubt it for a second but just wondering.

  2. @CheddarBob

    To my understanding Buffet is a strong opponent of the Keystone Pipeline, mainly because he would stand to lose huge amounts in rail-freight revenues.

    He also claims that the rich don't pay enough taxes, knowing full well that any rise in income taxes would not affect him, because the lion's share of his compensation is not "income" as the IRS would define it.

    But I am happy to be corrected on either or both counts by someone with more knowledge than me

  3. This guy got ripped off big time, but I think he can't admit it to himself.

    CheddarBob, Google "warren buffett aig goldman bailout" for your answer.