This past Thursday and Friday, I accompanied KU students and faculty to Omaha for Q&As with top management at Borsheim's and the NFM. We met with the Great One for a Q&A and lunch at Gorat's on Friday.Lots of good questions were asked, and the responses were very interesting. Most everyone posts results from the college Q&As, and I'll do the same within a week or two, if there is any interest on the board. In terms of my own reactions:1. I first learned of Buffett in Adam Smith's Supermoney in 1972. Since then, I've tried to keep up with almost everything published about the man and the company. I have never been more impressed.2. Buffett displayed awesome physical stamina. He fired back at student questions with clarity, wit, and precision for two full hours, pausing only for two sips of Coke. It reminded me of a Bruce Springsteen concert when Bruce was in his prime and loved to wear out the concert audience. Buffett wore me out. (I teach for a living, I'm in good shape, I'm 21 years younger than Buffett, and I was sitting down.)3. Buffett has an amazing intellect. It's scary to contemplate the possibility that he's lost anything. Buffett's command of the economic fundamentals is breathtaking; his general intellectual curosity is stunning.4. Buffett talked at length about the importance of running with the right crowd. I'm convinced that Buffett not only greatly improves the first-rate people with whom he interacts, he has also been improved by that interaction.5. The folks at Borsheim's and the NFM are razor sharp and focused. (If I hear the word “moat” one more time this week, I think I'll jump in.) From the top down, Berkshire is a learning and improving organization. It's actually getting better with time.After 30+ years of study, I really thought I had a pretty good understanding of the man and the organization. Both are better than my most optimistic assessment. Much better.In terms of my stock portfolio, I really don't know why I own anything else.Mark
"2. Buffett displayed awesome physical stamina. He fired back at student questions with clarity, wit, and precision for two full hours, pausing only for two sips of Coke. It reminded me of a Bruce Springsteen concert when Bruce was in his prime and loved to wear out the concert audience. Buffett wore me out. (I teach for a living, I'm in good shape, I'm 21 years younger than Buffett, and I was sitting down.)"--------------------------------------------------------------Thanks Mark. This kind of first hand account about Buffett's actual physical condition is maybe the most difficult kind of information to get, and maybe what we most want to know at this point in his life. One of the biggest reasons to go to the AGM is to hear for ourselves: how strong is his voice? How quick is his wit? Although I am comfortable with a post-Buffett Berkshire I would love to be able to say about Buffett "he was very very old."Actually I have been a little concerned as Buffett was described as looking very tired in Israel. I'm sure that, if true, it was just jet-lag. Travelling in an eastern direction is said to have a more pronounced effect.
In terms of my stock portfolio, I really don't know why I own anything else.MarkHi Mark,Please post all notes to this board, I think I speak for more than myself. As for above question, you already answered it in the post below. I would be richer had I done nothing since 1966 except buy and hold BRK, but I'm not built that way. Berkshire has been obviously attractive to me since 1970, but Berkshire is Buffett's canvas, not mine. I would feel smarmy about pointing to millions of Berkshire profits and claiming how smart I am. I'd say Berkshire profits prove how smart Buffett is.http://boards.fool.com/Message.asp?mid=24673146&sort=username
I would feel smarmy about pointing to millions of Berkshire profits and claiming how smart I am. I'd say Berkshire profits prove how smart Buffett is.Being in a somewhat similar position I would say that the profits from my wife's investment in BRK are enough for me. Whether I am smart or not will continue to be debated on this board but is a question of no interest to me. I would only add that at the time of buying BRK (now 25 years ago) I had no idea whether Buffett was smart or not.ghu
Thanks for the first hand account. Its both - good and bad - that Warren Buffett is a very smart man. Good because we know that BRK is run by a competant person (there was never really a doubt about this). Bad because it sets a very high hurdle for his successor. Its one thing to adhere to the philosoply. Its another to actually have the smarts, energy, knowledge and all the intangible things associated with a person. If one as an investor is looking at BRK with a 20+ year horizon this question has to comeup. One has to assume that WEB's successor is 50% - 75% less smart and still conclude that BRK is a good buy / hold. That would be the margin of safety. Having said that, and knowing all that I do - I share your thoughts and have been asking more and more now a days after looking at the other companies and CEOs - I really don't know why I own anything else . -ubn
From the top down, Berkshire is a learning and improving organization.Mark,as a college professor you are a member of a "learning organization", so you may be thought to have special qualifications to judge other such organizations, e.g. Berkshire. As an investor I look for other features in a company to further my money-grubbing ambitions. So I respectfully decline to follow you when you further exclaimIn terms of my stock portfolio, I really don't know why I own anything else..ghu
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