Just recently, over 10,000 shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway gathered in the state of Omaha to hear Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger, the top dogs in the company, spend five hours answering shareholder questions. Here’s some of the best nuggets that they provided during the interview:
In regards to the competitive advantage at Berkshire Hathaway:
Charlie: We’ve always tried to stay sane when other people like to go crazy. That’s a competitive advantage. … We’ve used the golden rule, treating our subsidiaries the way we’d want to be treated. … We try to be a good partner to people who come to us. That’s a competitive advantage.
Warren: Our competitive advantage is that we don’t have any competitors — people who sell their businesses to us don’t have other attractive options.
In regards to being successful:
Warren: Charlie and I live simple lives, and we do what we like. … We like to read a lot.
Charlie: We didn’t know when we started out that you shouldn’t make a lot of decisions when you’re tired, or that making a lot of decisions is tiring. … We’re basically so old-fashioned that we’re boring. You ought to keep plugging along, stay rational, stay energetic. The old values still work. I’ve never succeeded doing something I didn’t like doing.
Warren: You have to love something to do well at it. It’s a big advantage if you love it. It adds to your productivity.
In regards to improving the nation’s competitiveness:
Warren: Health care cost is a big item. Say we spend 17 percent of GDP on health care. Most of our rivals pay 9.5 percent to 11.5 percent. There are only 100 cents in a dollar; if you give up 7 cents on the dollar that will be a major problem in American competitiveness. It doesn’t relate to Medicare. The real problem is the cost, regardless of the payer system. … Our system works, but the No. 1 problem for American business is health care costs.