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7 Priceless Business Quotes from Warren Buffett

October 2, 2010

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business ...

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Recently, Forbes held the first Forbes 400 summit, which was a meeting between legendary investor Warren Buffett and rap business mogul Jay-Z.  The main event was an hour-long talk with Steve Forbes interviewing Mr. Buffett and Jay-Z.

You can read the full interview by visiting the Forbes website.  I’ve also included some of Mr. Buffett’s salient advice from the interview below.  His quote about how to beat Bobby Fischer is my favorite,  what’s yours?

Quote #1
“There’s a whole bunch of things I don’t know a thing about. I just stay away from those. I stay within what I call my circle of competence. Tom Watson [IBM founder] said it best. He said, ‘I’m no genius, but I’m smart in spots, and I stay around those spots.’”

Quote #2
“That’s a little bit like these rules I have. The first rule is don’t lose, and the second rule is never forget the first rule. It isn’t so much having a lot of brilliant decisions, it’s just not having some terrible ones.”

Quote #3
“[Ben Graham] also taught me to see a stock not as something with a ticker symbol that wiggles around but to think about it as part of a business. Don’t get elated because something had gone up or depressed because it went down. If I knew the facts, and it went down, I bought more of it. He also taught me that famous lesson about a margin of safety, that you don’t drive a truck that weighs 9,900 pounds across a bridge that says “Limit 10,000 pounds” because you can’t be that sure. If you see something like that, go a little further down the road and find one that says, “Limit 20,000 pounds.” That’s one you drive across.”

Quote #4
“I had the luck of getting turned down by Harvard, which meant I got to study under Ben Graham at Columbia, which changed my life. All kinds of things have worked out. So I just hope I stay lucky. I’ve been lucky for 80 years.”

Quote #5
“But if you’ve got the principles, if you know what makes a good business, if you know what makes a good manager, if you know what makes a good product, and you learn that in one business, there is some transference to other businesses. As you go along, you learn what things you’re not going to understand. Knowing what to leave out is just as important as knowing what to focus on. Somebody said how to beat Bobby Fischer; you play him any game except chess. And so I don’t play Bobby Fischer at chess.”

Quote #6
“When my wife was pregnant, I didn’t think I was going to deliver a baby. If I get a toothache or something, I don’t take out my own tooth. I turn it over. I follow Adam Smith‘s advice; turn it over to a specialist.”

Quote #7
“Part of making good decisions in business is recognizing the poor decisions you’ve made and why they were poor. I’ve made lots of mistakes. I’m going to make more. It’s the name of the game. You don’t want to expect perfection in yourself. You want to strive to do your best. It’s too demanding to expect perfection in yourself.”

 

If you like this post, you may be interested in another post about 15 Inspiring Entrepreneur Quotes.  It has quotes from Henry Ford, Larry Page, Steve Jobs, and Walt Disney.

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15 Comments
  1. Great stuff. Thanks.

  2. Thanks Brad. This is a really good article from Forbes. If you get a chance to read the whole thing, it’s worth it.

  3. Jean Putnam permalink

    Great quotes, I like the one about staying around the spots he knows.

  4. Trophemus permalink

    Thanks Joseph,

    My favorite is do not play chess with Bobby Fisher. Learn not to participate in business things that you cannot do or that you are not experienced in. Especially if your livelohood is at stake. If you can sell and re very good at it and that is what you really know then don’t switch to managing a big landscaping company because a friend offers you a big paycheck to help him out.

  5. There are some terrific quotes in here. I like the Bobby Fischer one and the one about the bridge and the margin for error, very wise.

    I wrote a post regarding Warren Buffett a couple of months ago, describing some of the principles of life that we can learn from him. I hope it’s helpful as well.

    http://betterlifecoaching.wordpress.com/2010/08/05/inspirational-people-warren-buffett/

    Cheers,

    Darren

    • Darren

      Thanks for the comment. I really like the part in your post about having a long-term plan. One of the things that I admire the most about Warren Buffett is his buy and hold strategy. Day trading is a huge waste of time. “Buying” a company that you believe in is where it’s at.

      Thanks again!

      Joseph

  6. I’m a second year MBA and I started a quote wall of some excellent items that I hear. Some are insightful and others are hilarious. For example…

    ‎”When you find yourslef in a fiduciary duty jambalaya, you have to be very careful.”

    “The SEC is for the widows and the orphans”

    http://tiny.cc/4n3k4

  7. The first one is my favorite, Joseph! Sometimes I feel like the biggest idiot in the world and I struggle with not being able to understand everything. But other times, I know my stuff. I guess I need to focus on what I know, not what I will never understand.

    When a kid does poorly in a particular subject, we get them a tutor for that subject. Instead, we need to get them a specialist for what they’re best at.

    • I agree. It’s doesn’t do much good to be a jack of all trades but an expert in none.

      Thanks for the comment!

  8. BuffettFan permalink

    I saw this article saying Warren Buffett has not generated any alpha in 10 years:

    Warren Buffett’s Alpha and Returns

    Does this make sense to you?

    • Hmm…I’m not even sure what alpha is. Can you explain it to me?

  9. There’s nothing more powerful than the wisdom gleaned from experience. Of course, WB’s level of success gives it even more credence!
    I just love reading about, listening to, and learning from entrepreneurs – at any level.

    To help you find your ‘smart spots’ you might want to try Tom Raths’ book: STRENGTHS FINDER 2.0.

    • Thanks for the comment, Debra. I’ll check out this book when I have the chance.

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