Warren Buffett may be among the world's richest men, but you wouldn't know it if you met him. He wants to be liked far more than he wants to be famous, and his sense of humor is far more indicative of his personality than his ego.
And they don't call him the “Oracle of Omaha” for nothing. By the age of 14, Buffett had purchased a small farm in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, using the profits from his paper route. By the time he graduated college, he had $90,000 in savings.In 1962, Buffett became a millionaire with his Omaha-based investment partnership, Buffett Partnership, Ltd. He began buying shares of a textile manufacturing company, Berkshire Hathaway, and eventually took control of the company. By 1990, he was a billionaire.
Today, he’s one of the richest men in America. But dinner isn't at expensive restaurants. Instead, he dines at Gorat's -- a local steakhouse in Omaha, and it's always the same: a rare T-bone with a double order of hash browns and a Cherry Coke. Buffett drives himself to work each day in a gold Cadillac. He's known for being humble, courteous and personable, and it’s not uncommon for him to take a visitor to McDonald's on the way to the airport.
It's undeniable that Warren Buffett is smart. He absorbs reams of information and has an encyclopedic recall that amazes attendees at Berkshire's annual shareholder meeting -- where he takes questions without notes for several hours each year. But remarkably, his investing style is simple: buy great companies at a good price.
Part of Buffett's appeal is the charm and charisma he brings to the normally pretentious world of finance. All the while, though, he's articulating some of the most practical investing advice available to individual investors like us. There’s a lot to be learned, so to get started, here are 50 classic quotes from one of the greatest investing minds of our time:
1. "Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget Rule No. 1."
2. "A very rich person should leave his kids enough to do anything, but not enough to do nothing."
3. "It’s class warfare; my class is winning, but they shouldn’t be."
4. "If you’re in the luckiest 1% of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99%."
5. "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently."
6. "Of the billionaires I have known, money just brings out the basic traits in them. If they were jerks before they had money, they are simply jerks with a billion dollars."
7. "The business schools reward difficult complex behavior more than simple behavior, but simple behavior is more effective."
8. "You do things when the opportunities come along. I’ve had periods in my life when I’ve had a bundle of ideas come along, and I’ve had long dry spells. If I get an idea next week, I’ll do something. If not, I won’t do a damn thing."
9. "Can you really explain to a fish what it’s like to walk on land? One day on land is worth a thousand years of talking about it, and one day running a business has exactly the same kind of value."
10. "You only have to do a very few things right in your life so long as you don’t do too many things wrong."
11. "It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price."
12. "Only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years."
13. "We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful."
14. "Risk is a part of God’s game, alike for men and nations."
15. "Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks."
16. "We believe that according the name 'investors' to institutions that trade actively is like calling someone who repeatedly engages in one-night stands a 'romantic.'"
17. "Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken."
18. "It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction."
19. "Let blockheads read what blockheads wrote."
20. "Our favorite holding period is forever."
21. "I don't look to jump over seven-foot bars; I look around for one-foot bars that I can step over."
22. "If a business does well, the stock eventually follows."
23. "Why not invest your assets in the companies you really like? As Mae West said, 'Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.'"
24. "Price is what you pay. Value is what you get."
25. "Wide diversification is only required when investors do not understand what they are doing."
26. "Time is the friend of the wonderful company, the enemy of the mediocre."
27. "Only when the tide goes out do you discover who's been swimming naked."
28. "In the business world, the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield."
29. "Risk comes from not knowing what you're doing."
30. "Look at market fluctuations as your friend rather than your enemy; profit from folly rather than participate in it."
31. "There seems to be some perverse human characteristic that likes to make easy things difficult."
32. "If you are in a poker game and after 20 minutes you don't know who the patsy is, then you’re the patsy."
33. "Wall Street is the only place that people ride to in a Rolls Royce to get advice from those who take the subway."
34. "The rich invest in time, the poor invest in money."
35. "Beware of geeks bearing formulas."
36. "Without passion, you don't have energy. Without energy, you have nothing."
37. "I get to do what I like to do every single day of the year."
38. "I never attempt to make money on the stock market. I buy on assumption they could close the market the next day and not re-open it for five years."
39. "If past history was all that is needed to play the game of money, the richest people would be librarians."
40. "The investor of today does not profit from yesterday’s growth."
41. "The smarter the journalists are, the better off the society is to a degree. People read the press to inform themselves; and the better the teacher, the better the student body."
42. "We enjoy the process far more than the proceeds."
43. "Focus on your customers and lead your people as though their lives depend on your success."
44. "I have no idea on timing. It’s easier to tell what will happen than when it will happen. I would say that what is going on in terms of trade policy is going to have very important consequences."
45. "Cash never makes us happy. It’s better to have the money burning a hole in Berkshire’s pocket than resting comfortably in someone else’s."
46. "Never invest in a business you can’t understand."
47. "Derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction."
48. "We've used derivatives for many, many years. I don't think derivatives are evil, per se, I think they are dangerous. ...So we use lots of things daily that are dangerous, but we generally pay some attention to how they're used. We tell the cars how fast they can go."
49. "Only when you combine sound intellect with emotional discipline do you get rational behavior."
50. "I buy expensive suits. They just look cheap on me."