8 December 2019
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You'll love Warren Buffett's most powerful life-defining word!

Someone close to me sent me something that gave this, already pretty uplifted, human being called Peter Switzer an extra lift, which got me thinking about how important it is for us to do our best to, as they say, “spread the love.”

Now don’t think I’m going mushy on the weekend. I just reckon too many of us don’t see the link between good vibes and productivity, so I thought I’d send a few inspirational observations, that can encourage people in the workplace as well in your family, up the flagpole.

This all started from my son, Alex, sending me a Warren Buffett take on life, which he argued got down to one word! As I waited for Google to deliver the wise insight online, I wondered what that word would be?
Could it be “diversification”? No, as he once said diversification is for wimps and I disagree with the great investor on that subject.

Would it be ETFs? No, even though he thinks most investors, who can’t do the work on assessing a company’s stock should rely on exchange-traded funds, but ETF is not a word and is actually made up of three words.

I favoured the word “value” because that’s what he, and the people who taught him, have always searched for — the true value of a company – and then he would compare it to the market share price and if the price was too low then it was a buy!

But as I quickly scanned the inc.com story by  Marcel Schwantes, entitled How You've Lived Your Life Boils Down to 1 Powerful Word, I was surprised to see that the Oracle of Omaha concluded that word was, wait for it — LOVE!

Hell, that was a surprise and I instantly thought that the man who helped rescue the world economy, by lending $5 billion to Goldman Sachs in the depths of the GFC, had turned into an old softie! I also thought he might have caught up with the old movie, Moulin Rouge, where Ewan McGregor’s character learnt that: "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return."

I never expected to learn that from Ewan McGregor! And I never expected to hear Warren Buffett talk about love, either.

As I tried to literally hold investors’ trembling hands after the GFC delivered a 50% collapse of the stock market, and ‘experts’ were warning all and sundry to prepare for the Great Depression Mk II, the market wisdom of Wazza, and his well-timed commentary, gave me confidence that when I prophesised that we would get out of this tough stock market spot, I knew I’d be on the money.

Well, I hoped I would and if I were proved wrong I’d be wearing the dunce hat with some pretty good company - like the legendary Mr. Buffett.

Until he went all sensitive on me this week, Warren had both inspired and educated the likes of me with quotations such as:

  •  “I will tell you how to become rich. Close the doors. Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful.”
  •  “Rule No.1: Never lose money. Rule No.2: Never forget rule No.1.”
  •  “It's only when the tide goes out that you discover who's been swimming naked.”
  •  “Someone's sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”
  •  And my favourite: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.”

So what do you make of this one?

“Basically, when you get to my age, you'll really measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you. I know people who have a lot of money, and they get testimonial dinners and get hospital wings named after them. But the truth is that nobody in the world loves them. That's the ultimate test of how you have lived your life. The trouble with love is that you can't buy it. You can buy sex. You can buy testimonial dinners. But the only way to get love is to be lovable. It's irritating if you have a lot of money. You'd like to think you could write a check: I'll buy a million dollars' worth of love. But it doesn't work that way. The more you give love away, the more you get.”

Warren’s take on love underlined, for me, how we underrate the value of love and while we often fight for it to work its magic in our families and relationships, we pretty well forget about it in the workplace.

Buffett says that’s a mistake. "In the world of business, the people who are most successful are those who are doing what they love." And this was borne out over the past week during which I have interviewed The Mentor — Mark Bouris — who is also the founder of Wizard Home Loans and Yellow Brick Road.
He talked about his obsession for his business, which was just another word for his love for what he does.

Next I got to know Melbourne’s prolific property developer, Tim Gurner, who also used the “o-word” for obsession, when he explained how he loved the idea of building with luxury uppermost in his mind. My camera guy could feel both men’s passion when they talked about their business creations.

And they were equalled when I caught up with a former Telstra Small Business of the Year award winner and the founder of Cargo Crew, Felicity Rogers, who exudes pride and passion as she recounts the way her family team and her thought outside the square to create work uniforms that were tasteful enough to wear out!

Her love for what she does ultimately was rewarded when Hollywood actress and entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow discovered her aprons online and included them in a major launch of a product in the US!

All of these interviews are to feature on our www.growyourbusiness.com.au website, which my son Alex has taken from our stable of websites and developed as an online business coaching program that now NAB has thrown its weight behind.

It was a labour of love, driven by his knowledge that all small business owners need a business coach but most won’t, or can’t, afford $12,000 to $20,000 a year.

However, he knows how our business many years ago benefitted from business coaching so he looked for a more affordable alternative for small businesses.

The Switzer family have always had an intimate connection with small businesses - it’s been akin to a “certain kind of love” - from my days pioneering success stories in Australian newspapers in The Australian, to my best-seller 350 Ways to Grow Your Business, to what we do on Switzer Daily and on my TV and radio shows.

We love the high achievers, the start-from-nothing -entrepreneurs who become something and it is, when I reflect upon it, a most powerful force for success. It is a theme or a thread that runs through so many of the success stories that I’ve covered in three decades in the media and I feel blessed to have been able to hang out with such great and positive influences.
And what I found remarkable was a comment from my creative director who manned the camera with these interviews. He said: “None of these successful people ever said they did it for the money — they really love doing what they do!”

As he said this to me I recalled an inspirational quote and I forget who said it but it went like this: “Money is the applause for doing things exceptionally well.”

The wisdom of Buffett is not restricted to the world of money but it’s no surprise that he thinks LOVE ends up being the most powerful life-defining word in anyone’s life.

Why so?

That’s because he’s become arguably the world’s greatest investor because he loves what he does and his love for that task is not a second-rate one. And there’s a lesson in that for all of us.

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