Friday, June 6, 2014

Book Review: Buffett: the making of an American Capitalist

Rarely do we get a glimpse of the life of the successful and famous.  To many in the business world Warren Buffett is more like a god than a man. In his book Buffett: the making of an American Capitalist you won’t be receiving insider investment tips but you will come to know a little of the man that has been an inspiration to business students and investment gurus for a number of decades. You will learn what made him the man he is today. Sometimes, it is those little things in life that put on us on unique paths.

Of particular interest is the information about Buffett’s life and his formation as a leading investor. He started as an odd but liked child who seemed more like a fish out of water than the confident billionaire he is today. A little socially awkward people came to accept him as he was. He watched the stocks while other boys made modeled airplanes. A boy who loved to play sports, talk of financial success, and attract other boys to him. 

He loved to read and apply those concepts to his paper route, pinball business, and future enterprises with passion. Warren was always learning and applying and made a life out of this process. With a few good mentors he became the investor magnet he is today. It was a long process of learning, adapting, and applying that seemed to meet with the right personality. Something business students should consider as they learn new knowledge and have a chance to use it.

When Warren met the professor Benjamin Graham he was able to use his native talents in a systematic way based upon the principles and philosophies of his mentor. The philosophy, “For stock speculation is largely a matter of A trying to decide what B,C, and D are likely to think-with B,C and D trying to do the same” seemed to stick. The precocious student learned quickly and developed his own methodologies. 

Much of the rest of the book talks of Warren Buffett’s life, loves, and business successes. It is more than a story of an emerging wealthy person but the way of thinking of the boy who grew to be a man that made it all possible. It is a story of financial strategy and pure diligence of a person that became known as the Oracle of Omaha. 

Warren’s story doesn’t end with this book. It is only a snap shot into his process of development and growth that led to great fortune. As recently as March of 2014 Warren is encouraging groups to become more engage in social causes that help those in need. It is these philanthropic adventures that help others to remember that wealth is not a source of happiness in and of itself. Wealth is a tool that places greater responsibilities on the owner to use money to enhance life. 

Lowenstein, R. (2008). Buffett: the making of an American Capitalist. NY: Random House

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