Go Big Grad | A Conversation with Warren Buffett
Class of 1951 graduate Warren Buffett has advice for December 2020 graduates in this conversation with Chancellor Ronnie Green. Buffett is chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway and considered one of the most successful investors in the world.
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[00:00:01.175](electronic phone ring)
[00:00:05.640]How are you doing?
[00:00:07.870]Well, I appreciate the opportunity to visit a little bit,
[00:00:11.090]you know, we've got another important graduation coming up
[00:00:14.610]kind of an unusual time that our students are graduating in,
[00:00:18.880]but they're excited to be finishing their undergraduate
[00:00:22.300]and graduate degrees with your alma mater.
[00:00:26.080]You were here, Warren in the late 1940s, early 1950s.
[00:00:32.840]And graduated in the class of 1951.
[00:00:38.020]And I know the university has had a big impact on you
[00:00:41.920]and on your life.
[00:00:43.650]So you might, might just start out by saying,
[00:00:46.970]what are some of your best memories
[00:00:48.950]of your time at the University of Nebraska?
[00:00:53.180]I enjoyed every minute of it at Nebraska.
[00:00:56.053]I mean, I don't think they could quite believe it
[00:00:58.490]On after two years at the Wharton school, Pennsylvania,
[00:01:02.920]I said, you know, I wanna transfer to Nebraska.
[00:01:05.070]And I came back and the education I received at Lincoln,
[00:01:10.540]you know, Wharton had this big reputation
[00:01:12.380]but I had terrific professors there.
[00:01:14.790]They not only imparted knowledge to me, but just the rapport
[00:01:18.520]and feeling that I had with them.
[00:01:20.030]And I would say this to this current year's class,
[00:01:24.050]I would love to trade places with any of them.
[00:01:26.250]I mean, you know, they feel they're going out
[00:01:30.700]into an uncertain world and all of that
[00:01:33.460]but there's never been a better time.
[00:01:38.489]Is there Warren, is there a particular professor
[00:01:41.740]that you might fondly recall from that time
[00:01:44.700]when you were a student here in the College of Business?
[00:01:47.260]Well, there were two of them that I really not only
[00:01:50.100]that I learned a whole lot from,
[00:01:51.700]but I just had a good time with them.
[00:01:53.980]And, you know, I've always liked accounting
[00:01:56.710]and I'd taken a few courses,
[00:01:58.140]a couple of courses probably at Wharton before I came.
[00:02:01.170]But Ray Dein was the best, you know, you'll ever see.
[00:02:05.740]And then accounting is the language of business
[00:02:08.390]and it made me proficient as something
[00:02:11.180]that was absolutely vital for the rest of my life.
[00:02:15.480]And I had the edge on lots of business school grads
[00:02:19.990]around the country because I had Ray as a teacher.
[00:02:23.670]And of course,
[00:02:24.503]Doc Elliott's class was absolutely fascinating.
[00:02:30.090]He was probably the most entertaining teacher
[00:02:33.170]while at the same time, delivering important ideas to it.
[00:02:37.480]Those two particularly stand out in my mind,
[00:02:39.240]but I would say this, there wasn't a teacher I had there
[00:02:42.200]and that I really didn't feel good about it.
[00:02:44.850]So Warren, I believe it's true
[00:02:47.580]that your parents met here at the University of Nebraska
[00:02:51.550]and what were their majors and how did they come to meet
[00:02:55.020]if you don't mind telling that story?
[00:02:56.990]Yeah, no, I owe my existence
[00:02:59.541]to the Univeristy of Nebraska.
[00:03:01.946]It doesn't more,
[00:03:02.779]it doesn't get much more fundamental than that.
[00:03:05.736]No, my dad was at the Daily Nebraskan
[00:03:08.640]and he was editor at one point.
[00:03:10.610]And my mother actually,
[00:03:15.110]her father went to the university as well,
[00:03:18.210]but he had a small paper in West Point.
[00:03:21.920]And she came to Lincoln and she was very interested in math
[00:03:26.310]but she also went in to get a job as a reporter
[00:03:29.520]at the Daily Nebraskan, and then met my dad.
[00:03:31.890]And that was a lucky day for me.
[00:03:36.800]A group of students from the university who came
[00:03:40.330]to an investing, a little get together
[00:03:43.480]I have with students a few years ago,
[00:03:46.320]they brought me a the nicest book in the world
[00:03:50.190]they could have given me
[00:03:51.023]I never would have dreamt of it.
[00:03:53.130]And had the front pages
[00:03:55.120]of the Daily Nebraskan for that period.
[00:03:57.700]From my dad... I've gotten a lot
[00:03:59.350]of nice gifts in my life,
[00:04:00.380]but I don't think I've ever gotten a nicer one than that.
[00:04:02.730]Now my dad, told me story, after story, after story,
[00:04:08.060]about university days at Lincoln.
[00:04:10.220]So Warren, you know, you mentioned that you would,
[00:04:14.800]you'd love to trade places with our graduates today
[00:04:17.930]that even though this is kind of a strange time
[00:04:21.420]but you know, what advice would you give
[00:04:24.430]to our graduates in general today?
[00:04:26.810]What might you say to them?
[00:04:28.570]Yeah, and I would give them the same advice at any time
[00:04:31.280]that you want to look
[00:04:34.980]for the job in life
[00:04:36.940]that you would take, if you didn't need a job.
[00:04:39.800]I mean, you know, somewhere out there,
[00:04:42.137]you know, you'll, you'll find the right...
[00:04:44.370]They won't necessarily find it on your first job.
[00:04:46.160]I mean, you gotta make a living too,
[00:04:48.380]but don't settle for anything eventually,
[00:04:53.800]that's less than working for a company you admire
[00:04:57.880]or people you admire and really the job if you,
[00:05:01.240]if you didn't, they had no need for the money.
[00:05:03.400]It's still the job that you jump out of bed
[00:05:05.290]for in the morning.
[00:05:07.420]And I've been lucky enough to have one like that.
[00:05:10.220]And I can tell you that there's just nothing like that.
[00:05:12.443]It isn't work anymore.
[00:05:14.420]It's actually something you look forward to every day
[00:05:17.350]and you won't necessarily find it the day you get out,
[00:05:20.700]but it is out there and they should look for that
[00:05:24.220]and they should be prepared for it.
[00:05:25.840]So that the person they're looking to hire
[00:05:28.190]and wants to hire them.
[00:05:29.334]And I would say that's, what's very important
[00:05:32.030]and that is developing communication skills.
[00:05:34.440]I mean, you've gotta be able to write well,
[00:05:36.410]and you've gotta be able to talk well
[00:05:38.860]and just fill your head.
[00:05:40.790]I mean, it is such a wonderful time in life
[00:05:43.170]to have every day end up knowing a lot of things
[00:05:46.070]that you didn't know the day before
[00:05:47.410]and students I've seen from Lincoln,
[00:05:50.700]I mean, they're just outstanding.
[00:05:53.580]I mean, that makes me very encouraged about the world.
[00:05:56.640]It makes me very bullish on the world.
[00:06:00.360]There they're going to face different circumstances
[00:06:04.650]all through their lives.
[00:06:05.730]I mean, they're gonna get,
[00:06:06.880]just think of the surprises in my life, you know,
[00:06:08.860]whether is the Great Depression or World War II or,
[00:06:12.510]you know, it just goes up and down.
[00:06:14.510]But at the end, you know, you've got a winning hand.
[00:06:19.050]I was so lucky to be born in the United States, you know,
[00:06:22.090]and I was lucky to be born in Nebraska,
[00:06:23.230]I was a little bit lucky to have the parents I had,
[00:06:24.777]and I was lucky to get the education I got
[00:06:27.280]and you go out with a winning hand.
[00:06:29.830]Now, you know, that doesn't mean
[00:06:31.733]that every single day is perfect.
[00:06:34.570]The world isn't that way.
[00:06:35.740]But try to think of another country
[00:06:37.620]where you would rather be,
[00:06:38.760]try to think of another era in which you would rather exist.
[00:06:41.460]I don't think you can do it.
[00:06:42.550]I mean, the opportunities,
[00:06:44.230]that they're going to see in their lifetimes, too, I mean,
[00:06:46.530]this is, it's a marvelous life.
[00:06:48.918]You're gonna have the vicissitudes and, you know,
[00:06:51.210]you have sometimes, and you have a health problems in life
[00:06:55.080]or something of that sort
[00:06:56.150]but there is nobody I would rather be
[00:06:59.880]than a young person graduating from the University
[00:07:02.150]of Nebraska today.
[00:07:03.810]Well, I'm sure they're glad to hear that too.
[00:07:08.470]Warren, our students have a lot of years ahead of them.
[00:07:11.700]And I heard you just say just a minute ago about,
[00:07:13.870]you know, cram as much knowledge
[00:07:15.160]as you can and every day.
[00:07:17.910]In your learning,
[00:07:18.743]what's your best advice for our graduates on
[00:07:22.360]how to keep learning throughout their life?
[00:07:25.570]Well, there's nothing that beats reading
[00:07:27.540]and you wanna have an inquisitive mind and, you know,
[00:07:31.410]people say to me, sometimes if you could only have lunch
[00:07:34.770]with one person living or dead, you know,
[00:07:36.750]who would you pick and all that.
[00:07:37.860]Well, the truth is by reading,
[00:07:40.540]you can have lunch with Ben Franklin, or you know,
[00:07:45.930]every great personality in the history of the world.
[00:07:48.370]You can in fact have a very long lunch
[00:07:51.100]with them and the luxury of having the array of ideas
[00:07:57.690]that you can be exposed to through readings.
[00:08:01.623]I've... one of the family said at one time
[00:08:02.510]I was a book with legs, you know, basically.
[00:08:07.547]And it's, you know, it's fun to learn.
[00:08:11.350]It's fun to learn.
[00:08:12.440]And you know, you're off to the great start.
[00:08:16.280]You probably made friendships, you know,
[00:08:19.800]during your life there and at school.
[00:08:23.460]You've learned the possibilities of this world
[00:08:26.760]and just keep going.
[00:08:28.440]So Warren, as you look back over these many decades
[00:08:32.540]of your professional career, what advice would you give
[00:08:37.220]to our graduates today for measuring success?
[00:08:41.610]Measuring it in business, measuring it professionally,
[00:08:44.530]measuring it in life?
[00:08:46.736]You know, that's the ultimate question.
[00:08:48.260]And I've known, you know, by the age of 90, believe me,
[00:08:53.531]I've known a lot of people who got very rich,
[00:08:56.400]and their lives were not successes. I've known
[00:08:58.250]people who were very famous in their activities, not successes.
[00:09:03.750]I have never known anybody who got to the age of 70 or so
[00:09:09.490]and had all of the people love him or her
[00:09:14.130]that they want to have in that position
[00:09:16.910]that ever felt like anything but a success.
[00:09:19.500]If it's, if your, if your children,
[00:09:23.540]if your spouse, if your coworkers,
[00:09:28.780]if those people at age 65 or 70 having seen
[00:09:34.490]what you do with them over a lifetime,
[00:09:37.646]if you have the love of those people, you are a success.
[00:09:41.450]I've never seen anybody that felt anything
[00:09:44.530]but a success if they had it.
[00:09:45.910]And I've seen loads of people who had maybe more talent,
[00:09:51.820]more money, more fame but if they didn't have that,
[00:09:57.283]you know, it was very hollow.
[00:09:59.581]Well said Warren,
[00:10:01.366]well said. Sage wisdom for our graduates of 2020
[00:10:06.900]from our most famous alum, at the University of Nebraska,
[00:10:11.050]Mr. Warren Buffet.
[00:10:12.260]Thank you Warren, for being with us.
[00:10:15.260]Appreciate your words of wisdom for our graduates today.
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