Warren Buffet didn’t get rich by luck. The parenting techniques of his parents aid his success early in life. These secrets are:
1—Take them to work, your place of business, and involve them.
Warren’s father, Howard Buffett, owned a small stock brokerage firm.
Every chance he got, Warren found his way to his father’s brokerage office or the regional stock brokerage near his father’s office. His father never discouraged this. Warren could read there—books on stocks and investments
2-Take Them On A Business Trip.
When his father travelled on a business trip from Omaha to the east coast, he took Warren with him. Warren was certain what he wanted to see, and Howard made sure Warren saw them all: the New York Stock Exchange, the Scott Stamp & Coin Company, and the Lionel Train Company.
On this same trip, his father took him to the then and now preeminent investment banking firm of Goldman Sachs and introduced him to the most famous guy on Wall Street—Sidney Weinberg—the Senior Partner in the firm. Once the introductions and pleasantries were out of the way, Sidney plopped his arm around Warren and asked him: What stock do you want?
Warren remembered that question forever. It became his mantra.
So, find excuses or reasons for children and teens to follow you to work. Get them involved in real meetings, problems, presentations, decisions. Expect them to reason out answers and present them coherently, logically. Take them to work and get them involved.
3—At the dinner table have serious discussions about important issues.
Howard Buffett’s voice and pattern were loud and forceful. Over dinner with the children, he spat out the news of the day. In a booming voice (not shared by Warren) that could literally be heard rooms away, he expounded on current events and his interpretation of their effects on the market, the economy, and the world.
The topics that Howard Buffett welcomed and considered appropriate for dinner discussion were politics, money, and philosophy—but rarely feelings. According to Warren, I had the advantage of a home where people talked about interesting things.
If you talk about drivel and trivia, then ultimately you and your children’s lives only revolve around those. It shapes their values. Yours and their lives become it.
Make the dinner table the place for serious discussions.
4—Encourage competition, not based on sports, in business and numbers.
As a child and teenager, sports was not Warren’s forte. He built his collection of stamps and coins and proceeded to exercise his mental skills by counting, solving math puzzles, and memorizing numbers. Competitive games, especially if they revolved around numbers, fascinated him. And in the absence of another real competitor he would challenge himself—by speed or complexity. He competed with the clock or classmates with equal gusto. His memorization of such facts as the state capitals, country statistics and esoteric almanac facts sharpened his intellect and sense of accomplishment. Bridge and music also involved him. Both honed his competitive drive. He could be a fierce player across the bridge table, locking his mind down to a sharp edge.
To compete in a sense with his father, and show his business skills, he began his first business foray by selling chewing gum—to neighbours in the evening in his spare time. Gradually he branched out, encouraged by his father. Selling sodas (Pepsi and Coca-Cola—the latter he is never without), peanuts, popcorn; reselling used, lost golf balls; and detailing cars. He obviously enjoyed it. At his apex in the newspaper delivery business, he was delivering 500 papers a day on five routes.
So suggest and encourage competition away from sports. Real competition. Notboard games or other “make-believe” charades. Learning business concepts and competitiveness bodes well for a child’s or teen’s future.
5—Teach them to enjoy talking with and to adults.
Warren made friends—his father encouraged him to strike up conversations with adults. To do so required that he be interested in adult conversations. Topics that wouldn’t interest other teenagers. To act like an adult, to be accepted as “bright” in their world, required Warren to learn their ways, their interests and be able to orally communicate his knowledge one-on-one with them. Even as a teenager, he rapidly gained the ability to easily chat with adults at any level.
This ability doesn’t come naturally to most children. They need to be enticed, encouraged, rewarded, pumped-up for the next round or bout. But the rewards later in life are great.
Teach children to enjoy talking to adults about adult matters.
6—Allow them to learn investment by themselves.
Early on his father encouraged Warren to buy stocks with his small earnings. At age 12, Warren bought 3 shares of Cities Service Preferred stock, which he purchased at $38.25. It dropped to $27. Then it rose; at which time Warren sold it for $46—for a $7.75 profit. Later it rose to $202. He learned two lessons from that investment:
Don’t fixate on the price you paid for a stock. Except for tax effects, the past is largely irrelevant to the future of a stock. The future price will depend on the current facts and situation, future events and your ability to predict them correctly.
Don’t rush to grab a small profit. Larger ones may loom around the corner if you wait. Sell only based on your future expectations.
A little “seed” money hopefully earned by your teenager, offered for investment, can reap huge dividends in financial competence. So let them learn investing—by actually investing themselves.
7—Let them repeatedly experience the difference between manual work and other work.
Howard’s father now owned the South Omaha Feed Company. Warren signed on to work there but reached a breaking point quickly. To unload a boxcar of grain, it took Warren and his fellow employee three gruelling hours in the sweltering heat. Disgusted, Warren walked home and never looked back. Manual labour was “for the birds,” according to Warren.
Warren’s avoidance of manual labour also derived partly from a lack of family interest, his own meagre talent at it, and working in his grandfather’s grocery store. His grandfather, Ernest Buffett, was a hard taskmaster of an employer—paying low wages: $2 for a 12-hour day of uninterrupted work. On one occasion
Warren agreed to do a job in his grandfather’s store. It was an oral contract, really. But he did not clarify or understand all the conditions. After five long hours, the job was done and his grandfather paid him. But very skimpily.
What is the lesson? Know what the whole deal is in advance—the full scope of the work to be done—and the price.
Manual work isn’t to be kept from your children. First, there is nothing immoral in manual work. Second, it teaches them that manual work may not be what they want to do the rest of their lives. Demand they experience manual work on multiple occasions—for their own education.
8—Teach them to consider all the consequences of their actions and not take anything for granted.
And teach children to consider all consequences of their actions and not take anything for granted.
9—Put down arrogance long before it becomes a character trait.
The paper route Warren built up was massive. It was so large that Warren had to figure out the most efficient way to deliver the papers.
The key to handicapping [stocks or horses] is to have more information than the other guy.
methodical and approached it as a mathematical problem. But in handling the huge paper route, with the monies that were flowing in from his diligence and aggressiveness, he became even more difficult and naughty in school. His ego got bigger and bigger and showed regularly. A scamp actually; rebellious in the extreme. To calm his tendencies, his father threatened to cancel his paper route— the sole source of his substantial (for a kid) income.
Humility 101. Teach it. Life is emotionally much more satisfying if you’re not an arrogant SOB. Humility is often best taught by your example.
Put down arrogance. It’s an offensive trait. Don’t let it take over the egos of your children. It will be even harder to squelch later on.
10—Raise the book: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, to the level of a mantra.
Warren was an experimenter and tester—and his father didn’t dampen that drive.
First, he read How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. This classic work of non-fiction has brightened the lives of millions of Americans and pointed them to better person-to-person relationships and success in business. But Warren didn’t take Dale Carnegie’s advice at face value. He insisted on testing it by running his own experiments—using both the positive advice and then the opposite of Carnegie’s advice—to see if there really was a big difference in the results. The theories were tested and confirmed.
Buy this book: How to Win Friends and Influence People. You read it. Let your children read it. Discuss it chapter by chapter at the dinner table. Probably no book, other than the Bible, will pay bigger dividends.
11—Demand they think for themselves and be able to orally support their thinking with clear logic.
The legend of why Warren attended Columbia Business School, rather than Harvard Business School, has been told many times. Harvard rejected his application, much to their later regret. But a few tidbits of his college years are instructive. First, Warren was steered by his Columbia finance professor to two books: The Intelligent Investor, by Benjamin Graham, and Security Analysis, by Graham & Dodd. Then a Professor Lou Green, in one of his finance classes, posed this question:
‘Why did you pick that stock [Marshall-Wells]?’
Warren’s answer, ‘Because Ben Graham bought it.’
and Lou Green’s reply, ‘STRIKE 1.’ (Schroeder, 143)
The effect of this oblique putdown was electric. No longer could or would Warren hide behind the financial decisions of others, even other luminaries and supposed gurus.
Do your own research. Do your own analysis. Make your own decisions. Take responsibility for your own decisions. Demand that your children think for themselves and learn to express themselves well.
Culled from Wommack’s The Art Of Parenting by David R. Wommack