What there is to learn from billionaires


photo by Jessica Gallo

Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger answer questions from the audience at the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder’s Meeting.

Jessica Gallo

This past weekend my dad and I woke up at 3 a.m. and flew to Omaha, Neb. to attend Warren Buffett’s annual shareholders meeting. It was the most educational and inspiring weekend of my life.

Growing up, a large chunk of the things I’d talk about with my dad revolved around money: how to make more of it, how to save it, and how to invest it. So, unsurprisingly, I took interest in it. After my dad came home from the meeting last year, he spent multiple dinners explaining to me everything he learned and convincing me to go next year. So I did, and I learned a lot of information that I feel every high schooler should know: how to make money and invest it the right way to make even more of it.

The general structure of the meeting was pretty simple. Buffett and his partner Charlie Munger sat at a table on the stage at the front of the stadium. Reporters stationed at tables on both sides of the stage picked questions that attendees submitted prior to the meeting, and there were green screens around the stadium where people stood up and asked their questions in real time. The answers to all those questions majorly enhanced my knowledge on investing.

My dad and I just so happened to get very good seats. We had the last public seats next to the section where all the managers and CEOs of the companies within Berkshire Hathaway sat. It was a very empowering feeling to be sitting so close to the people that run some of the biggest companies in America.

Buffett and Munger answered over 50 questions on the spot throughout the course of the seven-and-a-half-hour meeting. Given that they are 88 and 95 years old respectively, I, as well as my father and pretty much everyone else in the stadium, was very much impressed with the way they spoke to the crowd, with both glowing intelligence and a true passion for what they do.

One of the most significant things Buffett talked about that really stuck with me was the value and gift of delayed patience; being able to be content with your decisions and not expect things to happen instantly. Delayed patience, in his opinion, is one of the most important qualities an investor can have. Buffett emphasized multiple times throughout the day the importance of taking an action, such as buying a stock and being able to wait long periods of time for it to come of something good, such as larger amounts of money.

When thinking about buying, selling and investing, the key that he shared with the 50,000 plus people in the stadium was not just buying low and selling high, which, yes, is a fundamental component. Being able to buy low takes a lot of waiting and patience until the stock is at a low enough price where it would actually be worth buying. I feel this applies to more than just stocks and should be something all teenagers learn, as it will only benefit their future selves.

However, he explained how selling should not be out of panic if a company isn’t doing well. When companies do well, their stock price rises, but when something happens and the company goes through a rough patch, depending on the company, people tend to sell for as low as they can out of panic that they would be losing too much money, which is not the right way to sell in Buffett’s opinion.

Before this meeting, I would tend to overlook patience and the benefits of not always needing things instantly, like most people my age. I honestly never saw the value of buying a stock just to wait multiple years to make money off of it because, just like most people I know, I like my results to be pretty immediate. However, Buffett said and was able to demonstrate multiple times how instant results are not the case when it comes to money growth. Now having been through the meeting itself, I now better understand the value in waiting and genuinely think that all people could benefit both financially and morally from it and couldn’t see why anyone would choose not to wait when it would only be to their advantage.