The way billionaire Warren Buffett defines success has nothing to do with money

Warren Buffett
‘I measure success by how many people love me.’ AP Images

Warren Buffett was picking out stocks at 11 years old and had earned the equivalent of $US53,000 in today’s dollars by the time he was 16.

Today, the business magnate and investor is worth an estimated $US72.7 billion, making him one of the richest and most successful men in the world.

His life has been organised around money for decades, but when it comes to defining success, the third richest man in the world chooses not to use numbers or a price tag when setting parameters: “I measure success by how many people love me,” he says. (We first saw this quote via James Altucher.)

In Alice Schroeder’s biography of Buffett, “The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life,” she writes about a time Buffett was addressing students at Georgia Tech. They asked him about his greatest success and greatest failure, to which he responded:

Basically, when you get to my age, you’ll really measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you.

I know people who have a lot of money, and they get testimonial dinners and they get hospital wings named after them. But the truth is that nobody in the world loves them. If you get to my age in life and nobody thinks well of you, I don’t care how big your bank account is, your life is a disaster.

That’s the ultimate test of how you have lived your life. The trouble with love is that you can’t buy it … The only way to get love is to be loveable … The more you give love away, the more you get.

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