“Honesty is a very expensive gift, Don’t expect it from cheap people.”
“The most important thing to do if you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging.”
“Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.”
“You never know who’s swimming naked until the tide goes out.”
“The stock market is a no-called-strike game. You don’t have to swing at everything–you can wait for your pitch.”
“I have pledged…to always run Berkshire with more than ample cash…I will not trade even a night’s sleep for the chance of extra profits.”
“Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.”
“It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.”
“I always knew I was going to be rich. I don’t think I ever doubted it for a minute.”
Buffett spends most of his time reading and thinking, studying a relatively small number of companies. His idea of diversification isn’t the win-some-lose-some approach many managers take. By “waiting for his pitch,” he keeps his powder dry for the truly great opportunities that others may not have the foresight or the cash to take advantage of.
It’s worth remembering that in 2009, despite losses, Berkshire added to its holdings in a number of stocks that were at multi-year lows, showing faith in their long-term vision and in the principle of being “greedy when others are fearful.”
There is an 11th quote we’d like to add, from a recent CNBC interview with Buffett and his partner Charlie Munger. His advice on how to be happy is to “find what turns you on,” what is just plain fun.
He told CNBC, “We had had so much fun running Berkshire it’s almost sinful.” And now, he’s having just as much fun giving his money away, most notably to the Gates Foundation, in what is probably the largest philanthropic donation ever.
It may disappoint the many people who want to invest like Buffett that there is no formula, just common sense, a masterful balance of humility and self-confidence, and a mature spirituality that allows him to control lots of money without letting money ever control him.
While Buffett is quick to give credit to mentors like Benjamin Graham, his professor at Columbia and author of The Intelligent Investor, and his wise partner Charlie Munger, Buffett also makes clear that he makes his own decisions and doesn’t imitate anyone.
The one Buffett quote you won’t find is, “Be like me.”
In other words, he invests like Warren Buffett for the only right reason, because he is Warren Buffett.