Warren Buffett usually comes across as a friendly, folksy, and generally approachable person.
On occasion, he’ll sing a jingle and strum a ukulele to humour Berkshire Hathaway shareholders.
He’s the billionaire next door.
But you don’t become a billionaire by being nice.
At his core, he’s a ruthless businessman with controversial views that many people don’t care for.
And they have made him one of the most successful investors ever.
Buffett revealed this stone-cold side at least three times this weekend at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting:
He won’t lose any sleep when his companies cut workers.
Many people get laid off when two companies are merged together. The recent merger between Berkshire’s Heinz and Kraft Foods will include $US1.5 billion in annual cost-saving “synergy,” which basically guarantees a big cut in headcount.
That’s fine by Buffett. “I don’t know of any company that has a policy that says we’re going to have a lot more people than they need,” he said last weekend.
He doesn’t care what you think about his love for junk food.
Buffett is notorious for his unhealthy diet. And after his investment in Kraft Foods last month, nutritionists warned against buying into his “junk-food portfolio,” according to a Reuters report. Earlier this year, he said he drinks five cans of Coke a day. And he’s 84.
But he makes no apologies about his junk food habits as a majority shareholder in Coca-Cola. In fact, he mocks people who judge him. “Literally one-quarter of all the calories I’ve consumed in the last 30 years have been Coca-Cola,” he said in an interview on CNBC Monday morning. And during the annual shareholders meeting in Omaha, he told shareholders he doesn’t see people at Whole Foods smiling, according to Bloomberg.
He has no qualms about giving high-interest rate loans to low-income people.
Berkshire Hathaway owns Clayton Homes, a manufactured housing company. Last month, The Seattle Times and the Center for Public Integrity published a detailed investigation about how the company reportedly traps low-income borrowers into loans on affordable houses that quickly depreciate and become hard to resell.
“I make no apologies whatsoever about Clayton’s lending terms,” he said at the investors’ meeting on Saturday, according to The Seattle Times. He added that regulators have not raised any concerns, and dealing with the lower end of the market means many of their clients have poor credit, which warrants higher interest rate loans, MarketWatch reported.
If you wanna be the next Warren Buffett, be prepared to field all sorts of criticism