They call him the Wizard of Omaha. Year after year, Warren Buffett is consistently among the top ten wealthiest people in the world. He was the richest person on the planet in 2008, and he is currently the third wealthiest. Not bad for a guy who once sold newspapers and bubble gum door-to-door.
As a kid, Buffett has always had a big idea. In high school, he and a buddy bought a used pinball machine and placed it in the local barber shop. In no time at all they owned several pinball machines in different barber shops.
50+ years later and, Warren is pretty much doing the same thing today. He’s CEO and “the face” of Berkshire Hathaway, and his job is “to buy and sell corporations as if they were baseball cards”. His most recent worth is an estimated $39 billion. That number fluctuates daily—up today, down tomorrow. But then, what’s a few million here or there when you’re that rich? I can think of so many things I could do with that kind of dough.
Warren, now 81 years of age, could probably teach me a thing or two about money. Sure, we could study his every word, trying to find the latest investment trend or stock tip. This is precisely what many people do, and as a result, Buffett has a Justin Bieber-like following in the financial world.
Yet there is another lesson we can take from Buffett, and it has nothing to do with money. A deeper look will reveal that although Buffett is indeed rich, this doesn’t mean that he is selfish. In fact, Buffett’s philanthropy is as legendary as his personal wealth—perhaps even more so. In 2010, he signed the “Gates-Buffett Giving Pledge,” in which he agreed to give away half of his fortune to charitable causes. Prior to this, Buffett had already donated hefty chunks of financial capital to various charities.
Indeed we can take a lesson from the Wizard. We can learn that real, lasting wealth is built on a solid reputation, and that the way to the top is not by stepping on other people’s backs. Knowing this, we can strive to be like Warren Buffett—for the right reasons.