The Value of You
We all like to see results. Whether it is in the work we do, our bank account, or other personal activities, results make us feel good. The life of Warren Buffett is a great story about leadership that gets results. He spent decades mastering the financial industry and understanding how to get results. Regardless of how you feel about his approach, philosophy, or business style you cannot argue with the effectiveness and success he and his organization has had. In 2008 Warren Buffets net worth was estimated at $62 billion dollars. Those results were achieve by a lot of focus on the bottom line.
So how does Warren Buffett’s success apply to you? In November 2009, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates participated in a Town Hall meeting at Columbia University. During this event the following question was posed by a student:
Student Question: “Mr. Buffett, Mr. Gates, thank you for being here today. My name is Justin, I’m a second-year MBA, as I get ready to graduate, I was wondering, what’s the one thing that your MBA didn’t prepare you for when you got out into the real world?”
Warren Buffett Response: “Well, I was — it prepared me very well, not the whole degree, but specific professors prepared me very well for what I wanted to go into. I knew I was interested in investing, like I say, from the time I was six or seven years of age. So I was lucky that I found what turned me on early on. And I had these two marvelous professors here at Columbia that just being around — I had read all the stuff they had written. So it wasn’t I was acquiring lots of incremental knowledge but I was getting inspired. They were terrific for me. They treated me like a son. They would take me out to dinner. Ben Graham did the same thing for me. So it gave me confidence in myself. It just propelled me into a field I already love with a terrific tailwind from these professors that believed in me. [APPLAUSE] But let me add one point because — to the MBA situation. Right now, I would pay $100,000 for 10% of the future earnings of any of you. So anybody that wants to see me after this is over — [LAUGHTER] [APPLAUSE] If that’s true, you are a million-dollar asset right now, right, if 10% of you is worth 100,000? You could improve — many of you, and I certainly could have when I got out, just in terms of learning communication skills. You know, it’s not something that is taught. I actually went to a Dale Carnegie course later on in terms of public speaking. But if you improve your value 50% by having better communication skills, that’s another $500,000 in terms of capital value. See me after the class and I’ll pay you 150-thousand.”
Monetary Value of Learning and Communication
This matters because it illustrates the importance of learning and effective communication. As individuals, it is important to develop ourselves. Whether you get an industry trade degree, look at going through a mini MBA program, or complete a Masters Degree at Columbia University, ongoing development of yourself is important to you, your future success, and ultimately your net worth. Investment in learning will pay huge dividends. If good communication skills are worth an additional $50,000 to Warren Buffet, it’s worth far more to you individually.
Ask yourself this question. What would an investor ask you at the annual shareholders of YOU meeting? At a high level, you might hear questions such as:
– Do you understand what it takes for you (and your organization) to win today?
– Do you understand where and how we can increase profit margins?
– Are you cutting operational expense to increase profit margins?
– How can you create distance or differentiation from the competition?
– Is the organization focusing on what matters?
If you can answer those questions, you are doing great. If not, look to refocus your efforts. Educate or develop yourself to the point where you can answer them. You are heavily invested in yourself so what do you want your future earnings look like? Are you a million-dollar person? It’s hard to argue against hard results.