Value investor Whitney Tilson told us the No. 1 reason he makes the annual pilgrimage to Omaha, Nebraska for the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting is to learn.
We asked Tilson, who runs Kase Capital, the most brilliant thing he has learned from the legendary Warren Buffett.
“I don’t know, how many hours do you have?” he responded.
Here’s what Tilson has learned both professionally and personally from the Oracle of Omaha:
“I remember going to the meeting during the internet bubble and he made it abundantly clear that this was a ridiculous bubble and that Cisco for example could not possibly be worth $500 billion, which is what it’s market cap was at the time. He and Charlie [Munger] were shouting from the rooftops about the dangers of leverage building up in the financial system during the next great bubble that was forming. Then, in the aftermath, during the bust, he in early ’09, which turns out to have been an absolutely fantastic time in May of ’09 to have been investing, he was there as sort of a voice of wisdom and calm saying, ‘You know, it’s a turbulent world out there, but I’m finding a lot of good stuff to buy.’ So the way he talks about why he bought Burlington Northern, you know why the insurance business is attractive, you just learn so much about business and different industries, about what’s going on economically. So that’s all the professional stuff.”
“On the personal stuff, just the way he and Charlie talk about how they live their lives. And, the way they run Berkshire Hathaway. The way they’ve conducted themselves. I think they are admirable. Even if I didn’t learn a thing from them on the investing front, I think I would go to learn from them about how to live your life in a good way. I remember them talking about ‘How do you define success? How do you know when you’re successful?’ and Warren’s comment was ‘If the people who should love you, do love you.’ That’s always sort of stuck with me. And then Charlie takes the inverse of that and says, ‘You don’t want to be the guy who everybody shows up at his funeral just to make sure he’s dead.'”