Even since HDC2008, I have been digging up more information on PowerShell by Microsoft and finding more ways in which I think I can use it effectively but still not ready to share any results there as work has kept me from experimenting as much as I would like but I expect to get caught up soon and back to my experimenting-ways. But today at our family Easter dinner, my sister reminded me that a big day is approaching – the first weekend of May will be here soon and that can only mean one thing – the annual trip to see and hear Warren Buffett in Omaha during the Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Meetings which I still get a kick out of.
Recent years the Qwest center has filled up with more than 32,000 people from around the world to hear 78 year old Warren Buffett and his 85-year old Vice Chairman Charlie Munger. answer questions. Sounds crazy and yet if you have been there to experience it – you understand what I am saying and why these people gather not to hear a rock concert but to hear these 2 men answer questions from the crowd on finance, the economy, America, and life lessons in general.
But its more than a Q&A – its an experience – take last year for example – as a friend of mine and I waited for the stadium doors to open, we noticed a stage not 20 feet away and soon U2 music starts pounding, and the light show started flashing – for a second I thought we were going to be treated to an impromptu Bono concert while we wait (because you never really know)…instead it was famous artist Michael Israel who suddenly appeared and started painting on a rotating canvas – in less than 10 minutes, he had created an image of Warren Buffett seen here
and Warren appeared from a door very close to us to thank the artist, sign the incredible picture which would be auctioned later for charity on eBay…very surreal.
Then when the doors open there is the traditional mad rush for the Qwest Center Main Hall – most of the people running to get near one of the microphone stations where public can ask questions from or trying to get near front row where they can sit behind the Board of Directors which includes Bill Gates among others while I grab the first row in the upper section.
Always entertaining. Warren Buffett handles all questions gracefully, classily, and many times with quick wit and humor. The traditional annual movie which his daughter produces for this event is usually classic as well – ones that stick out the most was the year when they showed the "lost" episode of Desperate Housewives with the girls fighting over Warren and Charlie Munger, the year Lebron James played him in HORSE, but my favorite is probably the Jamie Lee Curtis version where she uses her womanly assets to assist Warren Buffett in getting Charlies permission to buy some hi-tech stocks (a long running joke since Warren eschews buying any companies whose technology he does not understand and apparently he extends that to all technology companies) – although no one truly believes his pretended technology naivete based on his obvious mental abilities. Last year’s impromptu concert by Jimmy Buffett singing Wasting Away in BerkshireHathway-ville was great as well….and the year before when the curtain opened to reveal Susan Lucci (soap opera legend) ready to lead the meeting and then to show us Warren Buffett’s All My Children debut and an actual episode they filmed with him. If you get bored (which doesn’t happen unless the questions get dumb), we head down to the pavilion to pose with the Geico lizard, listen to the actual Froot of the Loom guys singing, and just poke around – last year the M&M people were there giving away M&M packages with Warren’s picture on them, etc – always something going on
During the Question and Answer period you learn lots about what makes him tick and why the rest of us can’t match his investing style since he is looking so far down the road (even now as he approaches his 80s) much farther than the rest of us even pretend to.
His record – Incredible – Over the last 44 years, in only 6 years he failed to increase the companies Book Value in relation to S&P500, and over that period he has averaged a 11% compounded annually increase OVER the S&P 500 average…not just 11% a year, 11% over the S&P average.
But as open as he is with his life, finances, and beliefs, its the misconceptions that people have about him and worse yet, the stuff they sometimes spout on the Internet about him that bug me. Myths like how his giving away his fortune to charity (over 37 billion) is just a tax dodge. This one is too dumb to even attack. This is a man who lived within his means his entire life, bought the house he lives in today for $32K back in 1958, asked that he not get anything from his fathers will (it was split among his mother and other siblings), and has been content with his $100,000 salary for the last 27 years and asks the board that his salary not be increased. How can you not appreciate a guy who lives within his means and up until recently still did some of his own shopping, using coupons to stock up on Cherry Coke when it would go on sale? And people think he is looking for a tax dodge – are they kidding or do they really not understand that giving away ones entire fortune would be the dumbest way to save on their tax bill?
Also I get frustrated by people who don’t understand the difference between Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway – the company donates to causes selected by the shareholders, Warrens money is donated by him. While Warren’s beliefs are far too liberal for mine and I obviously disagree with his ProAbortion stance – he uses his personal money for his political beliefs and does not use company money or time to promote his beliefs. It’s not Berkshire Hathaway behind those causes, its Warren Buffett who happens to be the Chairman of the Board. So while I may invest in Berkshire Hathaway, I am not investing in a ProAbortion company. Its just unique in that I guess I don’t know the political and morality views of management teams of other stocks I invest in. I listen to Warren for his views on money, investing and the future of American businesses – not for political or morality purposes.
But the world’s most successful, patient and open investor still willing to share proven investment advice to anyone willing to listen – that’s priceless.
And as I can personally attest to – he still answers personal letters – and that’s just classy.
I’ll let you know what happens this year.
And if you haven’t read his annual letters and are interested the American economy or investing in general -do yourself a favor and read his letters he shares with everyone – well worth it! Berkshire Hathaway Annual Letters