WARREN BUFFETT TO WOMEN: Stop Holding Yourself Back

Warren Buffett cherry coke

Warren Buffett is a big fan of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s book, “Lean In.”

It inspired his recent column in Fortune, where he wrote that, “we’ve seen what can be accomplished when we use 50% of our human capacity. If you visualise what 100% can do, you’ll join me as an unbridled optimist about America’s future.”

Today he spoke on gender issues again, this time during a live interview, “Office Hours With Warren Buffett,” with career site Levo League. He shared some great career advice for young women:

Stop holding yourself back

“I’ve seen very, very bright women. I use the example of Katherine Graham. … While she was CEO of The Washington Post, the stock went up [by a lot]. She won a Pulitzer Prize.  But she’d been told by her mother, she’d been told by her husband, she’d been told by lots of people that women weren’t as good as men in business. It was nonsense.

“And I kept telling her, you know, ‘Quit looking at that fun house mirror. You know, here’s a real mirror. You’re something.’ And as smart as she was, as high grade as she was, you know, as famous as she became, right to her dying day, you know, she had that little voice inside her that kept repeating what her mother had told her a long time ago. So everybody should get a chance to live up to their potential. And women should not hold themselves back. And nobody should hold them back. And that’s my message.”

Demand equal pay

“I do very little negotiation with people. And they do little with me, in terms of it … if I was a woman and I thought I was getting paid considerably less than somebody else that was equal coming in, that would bother me a lot. I probably wouldn’t even want to work there.  I mean, [if] somebody’s gonna be unfair with you, in salary, they’re probably being unfair with you in a hundred other ways. I mean who should you spend your time with?”

Make yourself known

“[One woman] told me that she went to Harvard Business School. The women just didn’t raise their hand as often as the men. I raise my hand all the time. When I didn’t even deserve to. So you wanna get over the idea, as I wrote in the [Fortune] article [that] males — there’s a lot of Wizard of Oz in us. I mean, you get behind the curtain and you’ll find out that it wasn’t quite that imposing.”

Know the power of your potential

“Look what’s happened since 1776, most of the time, using half our talent. I mean just imagine what’s gonna happen when we, you know — go full blast with 100%. And you know, it’s incumbent on everybody to try and help people — particularly if you’re in a boss’s type position, to help the people achieve their potential.  And women have every bit the potential men do.”

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