The Early Years
It is hard to imagine the billionaire as a small child, enjoying the guidance of loving parents in a politically enthralled home settled in the Great Plains region of the United States. Warren Edward Buffett was born to the U.S. Representative Howard Buffet and his homemaker wife Leila in 1930 in Omaha, Nebraska. He was one of three children, and the only son of the soon to be four-term Senator. Due to his father’s political involvement, the Buffett family was moved to Washington D.C. after his first election to the latter post in 1942.
As a child, Warren began peddling goods around his neighborhood that included sodas, bubble gum and newspapers for money. Attending Woodrow Wilson High School in his teenage years, he successfully earned an income detailing cars, supplementing each cleaning by selling newspapers, golf balls and stamps. At the tender age of 14, Mr. Buffet filed his first tax return using his bicycle and watch as deductions, totaling $35, as they were part of his fixed expenses when creating revenue.
By the time he was well into his sophomore year, Warren partnered with a friend splitting the overall cost of a $25 pinball machine. They placed the arcade game in a barber shop, and enjoyed the benefits of the pocket change from customers who were biding their time until it was their turn for a cut or shave. No later than three months passed before the boys had pinball machines in several locations that served the same profit seeking purpose.
As high school passed, Warren was depicted spot on in his yearbook description his senior year as someone who “Likes math: Future stockbroker.”
Early Brushes with Stocks
Warren Buffett had the influence of his father’s stock brokerage company to guide him down a path of success. He would steal away into the customer’s lounge of the regional stock brokerage near his father’s office and watch investors at work. He was ten years old when he made his first trip to the New York Stock Exchange in lower Manhattan. Bitten by the bug of investing, Warren made his first stock purchase at the age of 11, three shares of Cities Service for himself, and three for his sister. That company later became what is known as Citgo, the petroleum giant.
Ownership Ignited: First Business Opportunities
While still in high school, while other kids were worried about how the depression was affecting their families, and World War II, Warren Buffett bought his first company. Investing in a company that was primarily owned by his father, he bought a farm from the proceeds that was operated by a tenant farmer.
The College Years
Entering the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School in 1947, Warren joined the fraternity of Alpha Sigma Phi, signaling there was more to the man than financial independence. Camaraderie and a healthy social life also kept him busy in his first few years on campus.
Transferring a mere three years later to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Warren graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. He was 19 years old at the commencement ceremony. Unhappy with educational stagnancy, and informed of his favorite financial author Benjamin Graham who penned “The Intelligent Investor” and David Dunn, a top notch securities’ analyst were part of the staff, he enrolled at Columbia Business School where he went on to graduate with a Master of Science in Economics degree in 1951. A fast learner, indeed, Mr. Buffett also attended the New York Institute of Finance shortly after graduation.
Business Beckons; Success Answers
Beginning as an investment salesman in 1951, Warren Buffett held that title until 1954 at Buffett-Falk & Company. Moving on to becoming a securities analyst until 1970, he was employed at Buffett Partnership LTD as a general partner.
In 1970, he took the position of Chairman and CEO at Berkshire Hathaway, where he remains to this day. This publicly traded conglomerate operates with revenues of over $162 billion dollars per year. It is the sole owner of Dairy Queen, Fruit of the Loom, GEICO, Helzberg Diamonds and NetJets. The company also owns half of Heinz and a significant minority share in American Express, IBM, M&T Bank and Proctor Gamble. Berkshire Hathaway is listed by Forbes Global 2000 as the eighth leading public company in the world.
Warren Buffett married Susan Thompson in 1952. The couple had three children, one girl and two boys. Although they began living separately 1977, the couple remained married until 2004, at the time of her death. During their separation, Warren had a committed relationship with a female companion named Astrid Menks. She lived with him beginning shortly after his separation from his first wife in 1977 and became his second wife in 2006 on Mr. Buffet’s 76th birthday. Ms. Menks was 60 at the time of the ceremony. The couple was introduced by his former wife Susan in San Francisco in 1977, shortly before she departed to pursue her singing career. The two remain a couple and live together happily in Omaha, Nebraska — his birthplace, and headquarters of Berkshire Hathaway.
After a health scare from being diagnosed with prostate cancer in April of 2012, Mr. Buffett is pleased to announce that he is cancer free, and happy to have the illness behind him after 44 days of a radiation treatment cycle.
Warren Buffett has vowed that upon his death, 99% of his wealth will be distributed through charitable donations worldwide, instead of left as an inheritance to his family. The lion’s share, or 85% of his holdings, will be rewarded through the trusted work of the Gates Foundation.
Mr. Buffett is opposed to the transfer of wealth from one generation to another, asking each of his children to work hard on their own and amass their own wealth as a result. In 2006, due to her participation in a Jamie Johnson documentary entitled “The One Percent” Mr. Buffett physically disowned his son Peter’s adopted daughter. He explained to her in a letter that he had no emotional or legal ties to her as a grandfather. He signed it “Warren” laying to rest any confusion of his stance on her participation in the film.
Click here to find out Warren’s Famous “10 Ways to Get Rich”.