“Hang Out with People Who are Better than You”... Warren Buffett

Another memorable piece of wisdom that Buffett shared with Pabrai and Spier was this: “Hang out with people better than you, and you cannot help but improve.” Over the years, Buffett has spoken eloquently about how much we’re influenced — both for better and worse — by the people around us. In a fascinating interview with Gillian Zoe Segal, author of a new book entitled Getting There, Buffett warns: “If you hang around with people who behave worse than you, pretty soon you’ll start being pulled in that direction.”

At a Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in 2000, Buffett also spoke about the importance of choosing the right role models, saying that he often tells students: “Just pick out the person you admire the most in the class, and sit down and write the reasons why you admire him… Nothing could be more simple than to try and figure out what you find admirable and then decide that the person you really would like to admire is yourself. And the only way you’re going to do it is to take on the qualities of other people you admire.”

Buffett’s greatest role models were his father and Ben Graham, who taught him at Columbia University and became his mentor. In Roger Lowenstein’s book Buffett: The Making of An American Capitalist, Buffett remarks: “The best thing I did was to choose the right heroes. It all comes from Graham.” Buffett’s father died in 1964, but a portrait of him hangs in Buffett’s office in Omaha to this day. Buffett told Gillian Zoe Segal: “I still wonder how he would feel about anything I do.”

Matt O'Neil
Published Date: 
Saturday, August 1, 2015