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The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder

Cameron Nuckols
August 25th, 2018 · 3 min read

Overview

Rating: 8/10
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High-Level Thoughts

Warren Buffett’s life is extraordinary. He has built an empire that few can replicate. This book shares the interesting story of his life and the lessons he’s learned along the way. It’s not a book that will teach you investing techniques. Instead, it offers a window of the life of one of the most influential businessmen of the 20th century.

Key Takeaways

  1. Make room in life for love.
  2. Self-education is one of the best ways to learn.
  3. All the money in the world can’t bring you happiness.
  4. Give while you can. There is no pride in being the richest guy in the graveyard.

Summary Notes

Warren Buffett Was Born a Genius

Warren was incredibly smart and gifted from a young age. Math was simple for him.

He became interested in the stock market when he found that manual labor wasn’t fun. He was obsessed with gaining money from a young age. If you had asked him then, he would’ve told you that he would one day become the richest man in the world.

How Did Warren Become a Successful Businessman?

Warren spent hours upon hours pouring through analytical texts of his time that taught economics, finance, and trade. He mastered the topics. Better yet, he put what he learned into practice and tested their philosophies. He modeled from the best teachers.

Warren started reading about investing around the age of 7 or 8. He would pick up books lying around his father’s small investment shop. By the time he was 11, he was going to the Omaha library to read any book he could on the topic.

He still gives credit to Benjamin Graham’s The Intelligent Investor for being one of the best investing books that exist. He picked up the book at the age of 19.

Along with a thirst for knowledge, Warren connected with anyone around him who could elevate his skills and make him better. He tended to gravitate toward those who were interested in making money.

His talent is finding undervalued stocks, buying them when they are cheap, and selling them when they are much higher. He invests with a long-term perspective.

Life is like a snowball. The important thing is finding wet snow and a really long hill. ― Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett and Charity

He wouldn’t give away any money because he felt that he needed the money to make more money.

His philosophy was that he would use his money to make it compound into additional cash until he died, and at that point, he could give it all away. As he got older, his timeline accelerated and he gave away much more wealth than he had previously intended.

What Was It Like to Be Warren Buffett’s Wife?

Warren’s wife, Susan Buffett, was a charitable woman. She liked to invite people to her home to take care of them. She would get money to spend from Buffett, although he would oftentimes resist letting her spend the money.

Warren and Susan grew apart simply because they were always traveling and doing things apart from one another. He eventually had a mistress that he lived with while he was still married to Susan.

He could hardly manage to take care of himself without his wife. He floundered and didn’t know what to do. He expected his wife to love and take care of him while he made the money. Later, he married the mistress.

How Warren Handled His Kids

He didn’t teach his children how to manage money. He was a penny-pincher and would hardly let anyone spend any money, especially his kids. As they grew older, he eventually began to give them $1,000,000 each year for their birthdays.

Warren Predicted the Crash of 2008

He saw the warning signs and voiced his concerns about what was happening in the market. Even though he knew the market would drop, he didn’t exit the market. Instead, he held his shares with a long-term perspective. He lost more than 25 billion dollars in the crash but has since recovered that money and made more.

Warren’s Perspective on the Purpose of Life

As Warren nears the end of his life, his focus has turned more toward people he loves. He began preaching a philosophy that what is most important are the people that love you.

Measure your life’s success through one word: love. ― Warren Buffett

What Would I Change About the Book?

  1. Some details should have been left out of the book. Although it was excellent, different readers may be looking for different information and more than 800 pages is a lot to sift through.
  2. I would include more about Warren’s relationship with Charlie Munger. Charlie was not mentioned much in the book even though he played a major role in Warren’s life.

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