Monday, September 27, 2010

Jay-Z, Buffett and Forbes on Success and Giving Back


    Neither Jay-Z nor Buffett would admit to being nervous. It was their behavior that gave them away. Jay-Z the wordsmith said little at first but stared at Buffett intently, taking in every word. He ordered what Buffett ordered: a strawberry malt, thin. He barely touched it. Buffett never stopped talking, telling childhood stories about stealing syrup from nickel Coke machines and peeling off zingers. "When you see me reach for the check," he told the photographer, "you'll know I'm posing." They warmed up quickly and were soon laughing every minute or so. As they left Jay-Z headed over toward his Escalade. Warren called him back, "I'll give you a lift. Sit up in the front with me. My rates are very competitive."

    Steve Forbes: You two are unique. In very different spheres you've each reached a level of success that's almost legendary. What did you do that made you different?

    Warren Buffett: Well, I was lucky that I got started early. My dad happened to be in the investment business, so I would go down to his office on Saturdays. At age 7 or so I started reading these books that were around the place. I knew what I wanted to do early. That's a huge advantage.

    You don't need a lot of brains in this business. I've always said if you've got an IQ of 160, give away 30 points to somebody else, because you don't need it in investments. What you need is emotional stability. You have to be able to think independently, and when you come to a conclusion you have to really not care what other people say. Just follow the facts and your reasoning. That's tough for a lot of people. But that part, I was just lucky with. I was born that way.

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