Bill Gates has proven that it doesn’t matter how successful or rich you happen to be, because there is always room for improvement and learning. Bill shared a very insightful, yet lighthearted post on his LinkedIn profile. Starting this post, he shares three things that he learned from billionaire investor Warren Buffett throughout the years. He endearingly speaks about Buffett, a man with whom he is on a first name basis, and does so in a very friendly and relaxed tone. His humility shines through as he shares the three lessons with us. They are:
First, Bill Gates unsurprisingly shares that Warren Buffett taught him a lot about investing. But he shares the first thing that Buffett taught him about investing is not what you would think. The lesson is that it’s not all about investing. It’s about Buffett’s “whole framework for business thinking” – which is a more powerful way to look at investments as you are considering them. He explains Warren Buffett’s moat analogy when needing help to make big decisions, and says that “he talks about looking for a company’s moat – its competitive advantage – and whether the moat is shrinking or growing. He says a shareholder has to act as if he owns the entire business, looking at the future profit stream and deciding what its worth. And you have to be willing to ignore the market rather than follow it, because you want to take advantage of the markets mistakes – the companies that have been underpriced.” As the post continues, Bill Gates approaches it from a lighthearted and casual place. He said that his mother put together a dinner to meet Buffett, and he was reluctant at first. But his opinion has obviously changed since then.
Second, Mr. Gates highlights that Warren Buffett encouraged him to use his platform. One of the things he points out is Warren Buffett’s quirky letters to shareholders, and how to communicate effectively as a business leader by being relaxed, honest and frank with company shareholders. Making this kind of connection is helpful for everyone, and it’s a way to open up and reflect upon expectations and conclusions. Buffett has especially productive letters because he only speaks honestly and openly and he isn’t afraid to take a position on his beliefs. Gates tells us, “Warren is justly famous for his… because he’s been willing to speak frankly and criticize things like stock options and financial derivatives. He’s not afraid to take positions, like his stand on raising taxes on the rich that run counter to his self-interest.” Bill Gates has also adopted similar techniques, though he jokingly says not as good as Warren Buffett.
Third, Buffett also taught Gates specifically how to value is time. He begins by telling us all that “no matter how much money you have, you can’t buy more time.” Bill Gates may know this better than anybody. He then goes on to share how even though Buffett is not willing to waste his time in “useless meetings,” he is certainly willing to use the time working with people that he trusts, and helping them even if it requires him to give out his personal phone number to advisors of Berkshire Hathaway.
Bill Gates finishes the post in a sentimental and sincere way, saying “… not many people get to ask him for advice on a regular basis. I feel very lucky in that regard. The dialogue has been invaluable to me, and not only at Microsoft… He’s one of a kind.”