Collection: Guy Spier - #4 'Cloning Warren Buffett'



Then we go to the inside of ourselves. It's just a fiction to say that we're rational, we were rational in very, very limited circumstances.

It's a very good assumption to make, but there is so much evidence. I mean, Dan Ariely's book, "Predictably Irrationally." We know that we're not rational.

So I think that there's this strange thing that happened. And again, it's kind of a tool that I feel is a tool for success. At the minute I recognize my own weaknesses and I'm honest and open and upfront about them, I can start doing something about it.

So I think I'm a better investor because I just accept upfront that I'm not rational, I have to deal with it and then I can do work around, I can figure out what I'm going to do to make it better.

And worth adding to that is that, you know, so how many times has any of us or how many times have I – I'm the guy who's speaking, I can't project it onto you, I guess – you know, sort of like, oh, I'd rather have Steven Spielberg's life. But, you know, we're not – I mean, my life I can't have Steven Spielberg's life.

But so everything's path-dependent and that's all against optimization, we're just not in a situation where we're not with the gas, we're not in a closed container, the things are constantly developing.

So I think I'm a stronger and better person to say that I'm not rational. I think teams work better when we're upfront about what we're not good at and I don't know how it works at Google, but I've had a – I used to have a hard time with it. I'm better with a small team that I work and being upfront about the things that I'm not good at and having them be upfront about the things that they're not good at.

So, you know – (Laughter) – it's pretty obvious isn't it?

But I spent – so I discover Warren Buffett. I also discovered something incredibly powerful which Anthony Robbins calls matching and mirroring.

So I'm sitting in the office of this sort of Wolf of Wall Street type place. I've discovered Warren Buffett and I have this feeling, I want his life, I don't want my life. And what do I do about it?

And Tony Robbins teaches this, Mohnish Pabrai calls it cloning, and I just started doing what I thought Warren Buffett would do if he was in my shoes. And literally I sat and I said, well, I would read my own annual reports. So I read the Berkshire Hathaway annual report and then I saw, you know, he had these investments in these various companies.

I ordered up those various companies and – You know, it, I don't know how to communicate with you this feeling or this kind of feeling of somehow – and I'm not a religious guy, I feel like I'm a rational guy – but somehow I was connecting up to something that was giving me wisdom and leading me in a better direction.

So I – and I've since learned more about that and it's been an incredible force for change in my life. And just going back to that first job that I had, I asked myself, if I had not started reading the Lowenstein biography of Warren Buffett and his sort of force field was not influencing me and I was not thinking what would Warren Buffett do in my shoes. I don't know where my career would have gone. I don't know where my morality would have gone. I think it may have ended in a bad place.

And the fascinating thing for me as well is that what Warren Buffett would have done in my shoes is he would have gotten up, walked out of the office and never come back. Instead, it took me 18 – well, until I figured out what I was going was maybe six months. It took me eight months to a year to actually do that.

So I didn't even model Warren Buffett that well and I still – it's still improved my life dramatically. And so I just find it fascinating that the minute we just start trying to think what would somebody that I deeply admire do? Somebody who's way better at this than I am.

And even if we do a small fraction of that, and I've done a very, very small fraction of in terms of investing of what Warren Buffett has done. He's got much better returns than I have is much smarter than I am, but even just a fraction of that success is extraordinarily good.

Later, so part of this book is this lunch with Warren Buffett. And so I fell in love with Warren Buffett and then I kind of started disliking him because I started realizing that I couldn't touch what he'd done. And he's like, so it seems like I was angry at him in the certain way. And I was nervous to meet him at the lunch.

And I had this friend, this Indian friend, Mohnish Pabrai, who I only would have met if I had been started to write thank you notes. There's absolutely clear. And there are many other things like that have shown up in my life.

But the benefit to me of meeting Warren Buffett is that it forced me to give up the idea that I could ever be like him and it freed me up to be myself. And I think that there are – in the value investing world, there are a lot of people who really want to be the next Warren Buffett or can't give up on this idea.

So there's this interesting thing that these models of behavior are absolutely wonderful until you take it to extreme and then you end up, it's not productive. So you still have to be yourself while modeling other people.



[YAPSS Takeaway]

1. Be upfront with yourself.

2. Cloning is a wonderful technique but don't take it to the extreme.