> Warren Buffett Blog: Wake Forest MBA students meet Warren Buffett

Monday, October 26, 2015

Wake Forest MBA students meet Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett met with a selected group of Wake Forest University students for a Q&A session.

Buffett emphasized the U.S. must invest in higher education and assure a means to finance that education to ensure a qualified labor force. He referred to innovative ideas in student loans, such as Purdue University’s plan to accept 10 percent of a graduate’s income for 12 years as full payment of their student loan obligation.

What does Buffett say leads to success? Focus and passion. He suggests that mastering both oral and written communication skills are vital. He talked about the importance of honor, integrity, and energy and used his performance as interim chairman at Salomon Brothers as an example of how honesty and integrity prevented a criminal indictment of that firm in 1991.

He advised professional investors to start young, build an audited record, do their work for the fun of it, and base fees on management instead of performance. He advised us to avoid “liquor, ladies, and leverage” as he had found this to be the cause of most ethical and legal problems friends and colleagues had faced over the years. He advised avoidance of risk but also pointed out that if you are following your passion you are already minimizing risk.

Throughout our discussion with Buffett there was a common theme of gratitude for his opportunities and experiences. He spoke of his parents and the influence his father had on his life, relaying he felt the greatest job one could have was being a teacher for your child. His decision to marry his first wife Susie provided stability and direction as she put him together and kept him together. His decision to work with Bill Gates in initiating and promoting the “Giving Pledge” was what he felt would be his greatest contribution to society. I

Warren Buffett also felt many of our greatest advancements would be in healthcare, and in particular in research concerning the brain. He warned the threat of chemical, biological, and nuclear attack was very real. He advocated for the refinement and adoption of renewable and sustainable energy and for government’s active role in that process. He spoke of the necessity of diversity in the workforce and utilization of all individuals’ talents and assets regardless of age, race, or gender.