Lunch with Warren Buffett

I recently headed to Omaha, Nebraska as part of the annual Warren Buffett trip. Every year the Fisher College MBA program gets to send a couple dozen students to meet with the Oracle of Omaha, and I was randomly selected to go on the trip. I knew the trip was going to be amazing, but Mr. Buffett exceeded all my expectations.

We flew out Thursday afternoon and spent the night in Omaha. In usual Thursday night fashion, we went out for a couple of hours, which was great since I got to meet some of the first years and working professionals that I hadn’t spent much time with yet.

Friday morning we had a tour of Nebraska Furniture Mart, the largest home furnishing store in North America. It was massive. Part of the tour was in the recliner section of the store. There were enough recliners to sit all of the students on the tour, around 200 in total! The history behind the store was also told throughout our tour.  The founder, Mrs. Blumkin, worked there until her retirement at the age of 103. Her son still works there and he’s 90. Their operations were very impressive and the core values that Mrs. Blumkin instilled in the company decades ago still drive the firm today.

After the tour we headed to The Field Club where we listened to Mr. Buffett field questions from the audience for over two hours. He was one of the most captivating speakers that I’ve ever listened to. He spoke about life, marriage, investments, public policy, dealing with adversity, emerging markets, integrity, and many other subjects in a very casual style. He mixed his words of wisdom with anecdotes from his past and punch lines that had the whole audience laughing. Sitting there listening to Mr. Buffett made me feel good about my life and good about living in this country. He said that we are in the luckiest 1% of humanity. He really helped put things in perspective for us on how good we have it here.

After Mr. Buffett’s question and answer session, we headed to Piccolo Pete’s Restaurant where we were treated to lunch. After the lunch, he stayed around to take pictures with every school, which took a couple of hours of his incredibly valuable time. He didn’t mind taking funny pictures either. Some of the poses in Mr. Buffett’s repertoire included: getting stock tips from a student, proposing on one knee, standing like a tough guy with arms crossed, letting a student wear his glasses, and joining us for an O-H-I-O. The entire time he was smiling and full of energy. Walking back to the bus, several of us said to each other, “I don’t believe that just happened.” He was so friendly and down-to-earth that it made you forget that you were standing with the richest man in the world.

It was a trip that was less than 24 hours, but it will stay with me forever. It was the perfect mix of motivation, encouragement and perspective that I’ll need to get me through the next couple of months as I figure out where my next adventure is going to take me. My interview schedule has really picked up lately, and I anticipate knowing where I’m going to be headed post-MBA by the end of March. I’m excited about leaving and a little sad at the same time. I’ve said it multiple times, but my tenure at the Fisher College has been the best time of my life. The Buffett trip was just one of the many amazing memories I’ll cherish forever.

Mike ^_^

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffett