Warren Buffett: 4 things I’ve learned

Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett

I’ve been listening to the audio edition of the book, “The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life”.

Buffett is one of the world’s richest men and considered the most successful investor of the 20th century.

Here are 4 things I’ve learned from listening to Buffett’s biography:

1. If you buy things you don’t need, soon you will have to sell things you need.

This is so true, isn’t it?

I bought a supposedly good investment property in Las Vegas in 2008, just before the market collapsed.

I lost a lot of money.

I didn’t NEED to buy that property.

But I WANTED to.

I was greedy.

I paid the price.

Whenever I’m about to buy any significant material possession these days, I now ask myself, “Do I NEED this? Or do I just WANT this?”

2. Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving.

How many of us get our pay packet, spend it, and then see what’s left over for saving?

Buffett says we should allocate savings FIRST and THEN spend what’s left.

It doesn’t matter if you save as little as $50 a month to start off with.

According to Buffett, you need to get into the habit of saving FIRST.

I’m friendly with Ramit Sethi, author of the New York Times best-selling book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

He also teaches people the importance of saving first.

He has some great advice on how to get your savings automatic so you don’t have to think about it.

His brother, Maneesh Sethi, creator of the awesome blog, Hack The System, who I’m good friends with, is always telling me to get my stuff automated. It is, to a degree. But I can always do more.

So get into the habit of saving FIRST.

3. Get your fundamentals in place

Buffett stresses that you must walk before you can run.

This could mean your banking set up properly.

Or your business structure.

Or your daily routine.

Or your living situation.

If you’re about to start learning something, you MUST learn the fundamentals.

I have NOT done this on many occasions and paid the price.

In 2009, I started lifting weights in the LA Fitness gym on Hollywood Boulevard, in Los Angeles.

But I didn’t learn the proper technique and went straight into lifting heavy.

I strained my lower back and suffered incredible pain.

I couldn’t get out of bed for 48 hours.

Another time, I tried to advertise my book, Insider Journalism Secrets, using Google AdWords.

But I didn’t take the time to learn the fundamentals of Google AdWords.

I woke up one morning to realize I’d spent $1000 on advertising when I only wanted to spend $100.

That was a costly $900 mistake.

You have to learn to crawl before you can walk before you can run.

So like Buffett says, get your fundamentals in place.

4. Keep moving forward

Buffett says life requires strategy.

That includes persistence.

Sometimes you feel like you want to give up, that it’s all too hard, that the stress is too much.

That’s when you have to say to yourself, “Keep moving forward”.

Back in 2010, I auditioned to host SportsCenter on ESPN.

I’d always dreamed of becoming a TV host one day.

Here is a home video of me as a then 14-year-old pretending to be a TV news anchor:

When I was at ESPN in Bristol, CT about to do my audition in the SportsCenter studios, I suffered a panic attack.

I was a bundle of nerves, my voice was quivering and I had to use the toilet every 10 minutes.

I wanted to quit and go home.

But…I kept saying to myself, “Just do it anyway, James. Keep moving forward. Keep going. Keep going.”

So I did.

I did the audition.

It wasn’t great.

But it was good enough.

I ended up getting an amazing job hosting SportsCenter.

You can watch my showreel here.

So, like Buffett says, “Keep moving forward”.

CONCLUSION

What do you think of Buffett’s advice?

How does his advice apply to your own life?

Post a comment by scrolling down a little further to the comments section.

I read every comment.

James

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P.S.

What other great biographies should we listen to / read? Got any book suggestions? Leave them in the comments section below…

  • Kirien Sangha

    Warren Buffet is an incredible character! From this list, though, #4 jumps out the most. Most people seem unable to keep moving forward after a knock down. Persistence, it seems, is the key to everything. But it’s important to be strategic, if you keep failing at something, don’t continue to do the same thing, try doing it differently and see what results you get.

  • Luke Morris

    All four points are excellent! And I feel like I constantly fall short in each of them.
    I’m regularly buying things I don’t need. I know this will come back to bite me.
    I have a little bit automated into savings, but not nearly enough. Too much of my income goes to discretionary spending, while I continue to procrastinate on the investing I say I’ll do.
    Some fundamentals I have down, but many – from scheduling work to managing finances – continually make me feel like a novice.
    And I have an unfortunate tendency to let speed bumps become roadblocks. Discouragement makes me its whipping boy.

    As with any challenge, though, the first step to overcoming it is recognizing the problem. This article is a good wake-up call.
    Thanks for the heads-up, James!

    • http://www.jamesswanwick.com/ James Swanwick

      Luke, thank you for your email. I suggest you walk into your bank, set up an automatic transfer, and pay yourself on the same day every month. Into a savings or investment account. Start small. Build the habit. Then grow it from there.