When most people think about Warren Buffett, they think about the successful billionaire investor, the Wizard of Omaha and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. He’s the second richest man in the world with a net worth of around $74 billion and his company had revenues of more than $210 billion in 2016.
But that’s not how he started off. In fact, Warren was much like anyone else and he came from an average, middle class American family. Over the years he built up to the man we all admire today, but not without some help and influence over the years. So, who was the person who influenced young Warren Buffett to become the world’s top investor? It might not be who you think.
When most people who have read about Warren Buffett think about the main influences of his life, one of the first names that comes to mind is probably value investor Benjamin Graham, but he wasn’t the first or most important person to influence Buffett. That title goes to his father, Howard Buffett.
“He didn’t care about money at all. He believed very much in having an inner scorecard and not worrying what other people are thinking about you. If you knew why you were doing what you were doing, that was good enough. I admired everything about him to an extent that I was absorbing lessons from him without knowing it,” Buffett said of his father on the HBO documentary, ‘Becoming Warren Buffett.’
That mentality might sound familiar—it has become a core principle of the disciplined Buffett. He is well-known for going against the crowd and being ‘greedy when others are fearful and fearful when others are greedy.’ Such a mentality requires a certain disregard for the judgment of others.
Buffett also said that it was in his father’s office that he encountered his first books on finance and began building his ideas on business, making money, and finances. His father was also the first person to take him to the stock exchange and gave him money to buy his first stocks. Although those stocks dropped right after Buffett bought them, it served only to spur him to do better next time.
“My father had unlimited confidence in me, even when I screwed up. And that takes you a long way,” Buffett said. “The best gift I was ever given was to have the father that I had when I was born.”