The name Warren Buffett conjures up images of brilliant investment plans and more wealth than anyone could possibly imagine (and, possibly, the idea of just a hint of clairvoyance), but it also speaks of a man of humble origins who combined a natural-born gift with hard work and put both to good use. Warren Buffett has never been the kind of person to take his talents for granted, and when you hear him speak, you realize exactly how gifted he really is (but you also suspect that he might still be a bit clairvoyant!).
Buffett, who’s always been an advocate for equal opportunities in the workplace for both genders, shares Levo’s vision for continuing to elevate women’s careers so that we’re truly using the the talent and potential of 100 percent of the workforce.
Buffett’s incredible legacy is one we all look upon with awe and admiration, and Levo was humbled to host him on today’s Office Hours. It’s not every day you have the chance to ask the Oracle of Omaha a question, but when you do, you know that the advice is sure to be anything but ordinary. Here’s some of the inspiration Buffett shared with Levo on Office Hours.
“Women should not hold themselves back… Nobody should hold them back.”
“Women have every potential that men do,” said Buffett. His own sisters, he said, were “a bit smarter and much more personable” than he was. They had everything going for them, except their gender. While Buffett and his sisters were loved equally by their parents and were never told there was anything they couldn’t do, they received an entirely different message from society.
“Society told them if they worked hard enough they could be a secretary or a nurse or a teacher,” he said. “And for me, I was told the sky was the limit.” And men liked it that way for a long time, Buffett said, but that has to change.
“For the leader, you have to take away the funhouse mirror and you have to realize that talent is scarce,” Buffett said, “and you should take it wherever you can get it.”
“You want to have the right heroes.”
“If you tell me who your heroes are, I can tell you how you’ll turn out,” Buffett joked, but he’s absolutely right. Spend time with the right people—the people you aspire to become, the people you admire—and you’ll be better off.
“I’ve been very lucky to have had a dozen or so major heroes, and none of them have ever let me down,” said Buffett. “You really want to hang out with people who are better than you are.”
It’s equally important to do business with the right people who share your passions. Buffett’s wisdom when it comes to finding your passion?
“Never give up searching for the job that you’re passionate about. Try to find the job you’d have if you were independently rich… Forget about the pay. When you’re associating with the people that you love, doing what you love, it doesn’t get any better than that.”
The same holds true when it comes to picking the right people to be your mentors. Buffett is a huge advocate of male-female and female-male mentoring relationships: “These relationships all just evolve. I never set out to become a mentor… It’s amazing… how the person that really wants to do a terrific job just jump out. There aren’t that many. You will be perceived as exceptional and as a worthy person for a superior to spend some extra time with if you just do something extra all the time. It seems elementary, but it’s true.”
“You have to learn to communicate in life—it’s enormously important.”
Buffett admitted that in high school and college he held a deep-seated fear of public speaking. Even the thought of taking a public speaking class unnerved him, and he backed out at the last second the first time he signed up. But he realized that you just have to do it, and he did.
“If you can’t communicate and talk to other people… you’re giving up your potential,” he said.
If you’re an introvert, Buffett said, you have to get out there and “you have to do it. And the sooner you do it, the better. It’s so much easier to learn the right habits when you’re young. If you have a fear of associating with people, you have to go out there and do it, and it’s painful… When I was young and completed the [public speaking] course, I was worried I would lapse back… so I started teaching a class at night and, you know, you’ve got to force yourself to do some things sometimes.”
Part of great communication is making sure you read a lot. Buffett says he reads five to six hours a day, and one of his favorite things to read is Personal History by Katharine Graham.
The bottom line, said Buffett, is to “just get yourself out there and force yourself to get into situations with people. Most of them don’t bite!”
If you missed Office Hours, don’t fret—you can watch it again here!