The Snowball (Warren Buffett and the Business of Life)

Reading business or management books, especially from Peter Drucker, seems to be easier than reading biographies. Despite that, and despite some not-so-positive reviews, I wasn’t able to stop reading the new 960-page biography of Warren Buffett. Written by by Alice Schroeder, the book  (Bantam Books, 2008) tells the extraordinary story of someone who considers himself as “simple.”

You may be aware about the existing talks of depression/recession and the current financial meltdown in Wall Street. In the midst of all these, at a time when so many are selling and out of cash, Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway invested in or bought companies. “Be greedy when others are fearful, and fearful when others are greedy, but don’t think you can outsmart the market.”

So, why “snowball”? When you scoop snow, pack it into a ball and roll it on the ground, it picks up more snow and grows bigger. The multi-billion dollar financial snowball of Buffett started with a few cents, earned by selling packs of chewing gum, at age six.

Because Buffett’s life is focused on business and investment, it’s not surprising that a lot of food for thought are found throughout the book. The more “complex” discussions (although the difficult concepts are  explained in simple language) concern stocks. Buffett is good in “handicapping” stocks. He’s recognized as a guru when it comes to the stock market. His decisions affect markets.

Of course, there are “little” lessons in life and in business discussed throughout the book. Be honest. Spend less than you make. Don’t go into debt. Getting rich quick isn’t the worthiest goal in life. It’s always better to start early in creating your snowball (and “credit cards really get you behind the game”). Find something that you are passionate about and if going to work every morning is very difficult, then you’re in the wrong business. Pinoy Entrepreneurs know many of these lessons. Yet, coming from a man who built a multi-billion business snowball, these words are gold.

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