You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you. True power is sitting back and observing things with magic. True power is restraint. If words control you that means everyone else can control you. Breathe and allow things to pass.
Well, one time some attractive woman sat next to Charlie and asked him what he owed his success to, and, unfortunately, she insisted on a one word answer. He had a speech prepared that would have gone on for several hours. But when forced to boil it down to one word, he said that was "rational". You know, he comes equipped for rationality, and he applies it in business. He doesn't always apply it elsewhere, but he applies it in business and that has made him a huge business success.
The speed at which a business success is recognized, furthermore, is not that important as long as the company's intrinsic value is increasing at a satisfactory rate. In fact, delayed recognition can be an advantage: It may give us the chance to buy more of a good thing at a bargain price.
Time is the friend of the wonderful business. It's the enemy of the lousy business. If you're in a lousy business for a long time, you're going to get a lousy result, even if you buy it cheap. If you're in a wonderful business for a long time, even if you pay a little too much going in, you're going to get a wonderful result if you stay in a long time.
If anything, taxes for the lower and middle class and maybe even the upper middle class should even probably be cut further. But I think that people at the high end - people like myself - should be paying a lot more in taxes. We have it better than we've ever had it.
I bought a company in the mid-'90s called Dexter Shoe and paid $400 million for it. And it went to zero. And I gave about $400 million worth of Berkshire stock, which is probably now worth $400 billion. But I've made lots of dumb decisions. That's part of the game.
Yeah, we don't consider many stupid things. I mean, we get rid of 'em fast...Just getting rid of the nonsense -- just figuring out that if people call you and say, 'I've got this great, wonderful idea', you don't spend 10 minutes once you know in the first sentence that it isn't a great, wonderful idea...Don't be polite and go through the whole process.
More investment sins are probably committed by otherwise quite intelligent people because of "tax considerations" than from any other cause. One of my friends-a noted West Coast philosopher-maintains that a majority of life's errors are caused by forgetting what one is really trying to do. This is certainly the case when an emotionally supercharged element like taxes enters the picture (I have another friend-a noted East Coast philosopher who says it isn't the lack of representation he minds-it's the taxation).
Getting fired can produce a particularly bountiful payday for a CEO. Indeed, he can 'earn' more in that single day, while cleaning out his desk, than an American worker earns in a lifetime of cleaning toilets. Forget the old maxim about nothing succeeding like success: Today, in the executive suite, the all-too-prevalent rule is that nothing succeeds like failure.
The worst sort of business is one that grows rapidly, requires significant capital to engender the growth, and then earns little or no money. Think airlines. Here a durable competitive advantage has proven elusive ever since the days of the Wright Brothers. Indeed, if a farsighted capitalist had been present at Kitty Hawk, he would have done his successors a huge favor by shooting Orville down.
If you know how to value businesses, it's crazy to own 50 stocks or 40 stocks or 30 stocks, probably because there aren't that many wonderful businesses understandable to a single human being in all likelihood. To forego buying more of some super-wonderful business and instead put your money into #30 or #35 on your list of attractiveness just strikes Charlie and me as madness.
The great personal fortunes in the country weren't built on a portfolio of fifty companies. They were built by someone who identified one wonderful business. With each investment you make, you should have the courage and the conviction to place at least 10% of your net worth in that stock.
After 25 years of buying and supervising a great variety of businesses, Charlie [Munger] and I have not learned how to solve difficult business problems. What we have learned is to avoid them. To the extent we have been successful, it is because we have concentrated on identifying one-foot hurdles that we could step over rather than because we acquired any ability to clear seven-footers.
In that, we agreed with Andrew Carnegie, who said that huge fortunes that flow in large part from society should in large part be returned to society. In my case, the ability to allocate capital would have had little utility unless I lived in a rich, populous country in which enormous quantities of marketable securities were traded and were sometimes ridiculously mispriced. And fortunately for me, that describes the U.S. in the second half of the last century.
The idea that you try to time purchases based on what you think business is going to do in the next year or two, I think that's the greatest mistake investors make because it's always uncertain. People say it's a time of uncertainty. It was uncertain on September 10th, 2001, people just didn't know it. It's uncertain every single day. So take uncertainty as part of being involved in investment at all. But uncertainty can be your friend. I mean, when people are scared they pay less for things. We try to price. We don't try to time at all.