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Collection: Warren Buffett - #191 'Power of Roles Models'



Hello, Mr. Buffett —




— Mr. Munger. My name is Aaron Wexler (PH). And I’m from Santa Maria, California.

I have — my question has two parts. The first part is, when you and Bill Gates had a television show some time ago, you were asked about the people who were — had different role models.

And you said, “Well, if I know a person’s role model, I can pretty well tell the kind of a person he is and what kind of a future he has.”

Mr. Buffett, my role model is Warren Buffett. Do you think I have a chance? (Laughter)


Well, I hope you’re choosing me on the basis you hope to expect to live to an advanced age. I like to think that that’s what I bring to the party.

It does pay to have the right models. I mean, I was very lucky, early, very early in life, that I had certain heroes — and I’ve continued to develop a few more, as I’ve gone along — and they’ve been terrific. And they never let me down. And it takes you through a lot.

And I think that, you know, it just stands to reason that you copy, very much, the people that you do look up to, and particularly if you do it at an early enough age.

So I think, if you can influence the model — the role models — of a 5-year-old or an 8-year-old or a 10-year-old, you know, it’s going to have a huge impact.

And of course, everybody, virtually, starts out with their initial models being their parents. So they are the ones that are going to have a huge effect on them. And if that parent turns out to be a great model, I think it’s going to be a huge plus for the child.

I think that it beats a whole lot of other things in life to have the right models around. And I have — like I say, even as I’ve gotten older, I’ve picked up a few more. And it influences your behavior. I’m convinced of that.

And if you — you will want to be a little more, or a lot more, depending on your personality, like the person that you admire.

And I tell the students in classes, I tell them, you know, “Just pick out the person you admire the most in the class and sit down and write the reasons out why you admire them. And then try and figure out why you can’t have those same qualities.”

Because they’re not the ability to throw a football 60 yards, or run the 100 in ten flat, or something like that. They’re qualities of personality, character, temperament, that are — can be emulated. But you’ve got to start early. It’s very tough to change behavior later on.

And you can apply the reverse of it. Following Charlie’s theory, you can find the people that you don’t like and say, “What don’t I like about these people?”

And then you can look — if, you know, it takes a little strength of character. But you can look inward and say, you know, “Have I got some of that in me?” and —

It’s not complicated. Ben Graham did it. Ben Franklin did it.

And it’s not complicated. Nothing could be more simple than to try and figure out what you find admirable and then decide, you know, that the person you really would like to admire is yourself. And the only way you’re going to do it is take on the qualities of other people you admire.

Anyway, that’s a two-minute answer on something Bill and I did talk a little bit about.



Yeah. There is no reason, also, to look only for living models. The eminent dead are the — are, in the nature of things, some of the best models around.

And, if it’s a model is all you want, you’re really better off not limiting yourself to the living. Some of the very best models are — have been dead for a long time. (Laughter)


Charlie has probably read more biography than any three people in this room put together. So he has put this into practice. And, as somebody mentioned earlier, Janet Lowe has a biography of Charlie coming out here in — later this year. So you can read all the secrets of Charlie’s life. (Applause)

OK, number 7.

~ Please visit the site above for full video of Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting.


[YAPSS Takeaway]

1. What can you learn from positive role models?

- "Write the reasons out why you admire them. And then try and figure out why you can’t have those same qualities.” ~Warren Buffett

In other words, just copy them.

2. What can you learn from negative role models?

- Ask yourself “What don’t I like about these people?” And then you can look inward and ask yourself “Have I got some of that in me?”

3. Don't only look for the living models.

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