December 2008

Warren Buffett calls for snow

By Alice Schroeder
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To write The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, Alice Schroeder spent thousands of hours with Buffett, his friends and family. Schroeder, a Wall Street analyst and former managing director at Morgan Stanley, met Buffett when she published research on Berkshire Hathaway. Impressed with her insights, he suggested she write full-time and the result is a lengthy, evenhanded account of Buffett's life. According to Forbes, Warren Buffett's estimated $62 billion net worth makes him the world's second richest man, behind his good friend Bill Gates. Long before his stellar success with Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett showed an amazing aptitude for numbers and a talent for making money. In high school he delivered newspapers and was earning $175 per month, which was more than his teachers made. By the end of high school, his businesses – which also included reselling pinball machines and refurbishing golf balls – had made him $5,000 (worth about $53,000 today).

"Life is like a snowball," Buffest says about attracting and compounding the value of business opportunities and cultivating relationships. "The important thing is finding wet snow and a really long hill… You've got to be the kind of person that the snow wants to attach itself to."

That is but one of his many guiding principles on careers, business and life presented in the book, others include: "Find something you are passionate about. I only work with people I like. If you go to work every morning with your stomach churning, you're in the wrong business."While Buffett's financial success is legendary, he has made personal and financial mistakes along the way; all are discussed in the book. While The Snowball could have been pared down some, all in all, it's a good investment of your time and money.

Ellen R. Marsden writes from Mason, Ohio.

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The Snowball

The Snowball

By Alice Schroeder
ISBN 9780553805093

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