Buffett on Earning Success

Warren Buffett is no strangers to questions; each year, at his annual shareholder meeting, Buffett and his partner Charlie Munger open up the floor to questions— often for several hours— and Buffett is known to visit schools and businessmen often for Q and A sessions.

The wise octogenarian has shared a lot of information with us normal folk through all of the questions he has answered, and while I do enjoy reading most of his tidbits, I really like when I can tell that a question has plenty of thought put into it. 

At a Q & A session in 2008, Buffett was presented with what I thought was a very well thought out question. A business student quoted Munger, who said, “The best way to get success is to deserve success,” and asked Buffett how he set himself up to deserve the successes he’s been able to have. Now, it might be just me, but I think asking the most successful investor of our time what he did to deserve that success is pretty damn bold. But, Buffett didn’t miss a beat.

“Behaving decent is a large part of it,” Buffett began. “Almost always good things come from good behavior.”

This isn’t surprising when you think about Buffett’s advice on behaving like those you admire; by adapting honorable qualities, he became an honorable man.

“Out of school I offered to work for Graham for free and he said I was overpriced. I tried to be useful and visible to him. I gave him stock tips and kept up with him,” Buffett explains.

In an attempt to start deserving success, Buffett put in the work he would need to earn the success. So, rather than being put in a position where he “deserved” success, he worked hard until he “earned” a chance to be successful.

“How rare is it to work during lunch hours and be the first one there in the morning. You’ll get noticed if you do something extra.”

Probably the most notable snippet from his response, Buffett clearly outlines that the only way to deserve success is to work hard for it. Success is not something given out freely, nor is respect.

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