Warren Buffett on Time Management: “All You Need Is … Time”

Warren Buffett on Time Management: Warren Buffett once said on time management, “The rich invest in time; the poor invest in money.”

Buffett is currently the fourth richest men in the world. He can buy practically anything he wants to, and more than nearly everyone else could ever dream of.

Nevertheless there’s one thing that even Warren Buffett cannot buy, and that is time.

Here’s a brief transcript from a Charlie Rose interview:

Warren Buffett: I mean I can buy anything I want basically, but I can’t buy time.

Charlie Rose: And so to have time is the most precious thing you can have?

Warren Buffett: Yes, I better be careful with it. There is no way I will be able to buy more time.

Warren Buffett's Interview with Charlie Rose (Time Management) Charlie Rose: And living in Omaha makes that easy?

Warren Buffett: That makes it a lot easier. I, for 50 whatever, well for 54 years I spent five minutes going each way now. Just imagine that was a half an hour each way. You know. I know the words to a lot more songs and that’s about it.

Charlie Rose: It adds up. Doesn’t it?

Warren Buffett: It really adds up. Now if you’re doing an hour a day difference coming and going that’s two and a half percent of the person’s work week. That means 40 years you’re talking about a year.

An undisciplined mind will find every reason to do what should not be done and every excuse not to do what should be done. Warren Buffett once said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”

Ira Glass Time Management Technique

This American Life‘s Ira Glass talks with Lifehacker about how he works. When asked what his best time-saving shortcut or life hack was, he responded:

I’ve got nothing. Reading other people’s answers to this question on your website today made me realize I live my life like an ape. I eat the same breakfast and lunch everyday, both at my desk. I employ no time-saving tricks at all.

Though come to think of it, I guess my biggest life hack—and this is the very first time I’ve attempted to use the phrase “life hack” in a sentence—is that my wife and I decided to live just a few blocks from where I work. We did this because of our dog. Since I spend at least an hour every night walking the dog, I didn’t want to spend another 60 or 90 minutes a day commuting. I don’t have the time. Like lots of people, I work long hours.

Charlie Munger’s Sit-on-Your-Ass Investing Concept

Charlie Munger presented the model of “Sit on your ass investing” at the 2000 Berkshire Hathaway Annual meeting. Description courtesy of Losch Management Company, an Orlando, Florida-based investment advisor.

'Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor' by Tren Griffin (ISBN 023117098X) You have value investing, and growth investing, but now we also have “sit on your ass investing”, which is better.

The problem with value investing is it requires too much work.

First you have to find an undervalued stock and buy it cheap. Then you have to sell it when it the price reaches or exceeds your calculated figure for its intrinsic value.

Because this requires many decisions over a long period of time, Charlie Munger prefers his own method in which all you have to do is pick a really great company when it is attractively priced, and then just sit on your ass. The great advantage being that it only requires one decision.

Charlie said: “If you buy a business just because it’s undervalued then you have to worry about selling it when it reaches its intrinsic value. That’s hard. But if you can buy a few great companies then you can sit on your ass … that’s a good thing.”

The whole idea of not having to do something extraordinary is one all investors should heed, yet it is easy to forget, particularly in stressful situations.

Recommended Reading: ‘Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor’ by Tren Griffin

Mungerisms: Amusing Quotes from Charlie Munger from the Berkshire Hathaway 2014 Annual Meeting

Amusing Quotes from Charlie Munger from the Berkshire Hathaway 2014 Annual Meeting

Charlie Munger is not always politically correct, always offers a wealth of information, and hilarious now and then. At the 2014 annual meeting of Berkshire Hathaway, here are some of his best zingers:

  • On the interplay between CEOs and corporate directors regarding compensation: “You start paying directors of corporations two or three hundred thousand dollars a year, it creates a daisy chain of reciprocity where they keep raising the CEO and he keeps recommending more pay for the directors.”
  • On CEO pay and work habits: “Does the Supreme Court work less hard because they don’t get paid like corporate executives? We have some corporate directors who draw more pay than members of the Supreme Court. That’s crazy,”
  • 'Poor Charlie's Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger' by Peter D. Kaufman and Ed Wexler (ISBN 1578645018) On taxing the 1%: “The taxes on wealth were much higher when I was much younger. So for somebody of my age, I don’t think they’re ruining the world because I’ve lived through way more punitive taxes on the rich than we have now … I don’t think everybody who’s been especially favored should take the last dollar that he or she should get. I think we all have an obligation to dampen these fires of envy.”
  • On Facebook, Twitter, and the appeal of social media: “It just doesn’t interest me at all to gab all the time on the Internet with people and I certainly hate the idea of young people putting in permanent form the dumbest thoughts and the dumbest reports of action that you can ever imagine.”
  • On his favorite advance in technology: “I’m in love with the Xerox machine.”
  • On Donald Sterling, the then-owner of NBA Clippers, who then faced racial remarks and lifetime ban:”He’s a peculiar man. He’s past 80. His girlfriend has had so many facelifts she practically can’t smile. This is not the noblest ideal of what the American businessman should be.”

Insightful books about Charlie Munger

Prem Watsa’s Recommended Books for 2015

Prem Watsa of Fairfax Financial Holdings (Canada)

Legendary investor and philanthropist John Templeton was Prem Watsa’s mentor and was deeply interested in spiritual growth. In the past, Watsa has recurrently recommended Templeton’s “Riches for the Mind and Spirit”, “The Templeton Plan”, and “Discovering Laws of Life”.

Legendary investor and philanthropist John Templeton In the Fairfax Financial Holdings’ annual meetings in previous years, Watsa has also highlighted an inspirational movie called “The Little Red Wagon” that the Templeton Foundation supported. In an interview with online investment community Gurufocus, Watsa previously said,

But I try to be neutral, sometimes more short than long, but that’s John Templeton. So John, one of the key lessons he taught me was to be flexible. His investment philosophy was always value oriented, long term, buy at the point of maximum pessimism, but be flexible in your thinking, and that’s what we try to apply.

Books Recommended by Prem Watsa at Fairfax’s Annual Meeting on 16-Apr-2015

At the annual meeting of shareholders of Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited on 16-Apr-2015 at the Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, Prem Watsa recommended the following books:

  1. John Templeton’s “Riches for the Mind and Spirit”. Watsa mentioned a quote about giving that he said Fairfax feels very strongly about: “Self-improvement comes mainly from trying to help others.” In speaking of Fairfax’s philanthropic efforts, Watsa also said it’s better to help the receivers grow.
  2. Stephen G. Post’s “Is Ultimate Reality Unlimited Love?” For fifteen years, Post held discussions with John Templeton on the topic of pure unlimited love. The book covers how John Templeton arrived at his philosophy as a youth growing up in Tennessee. This book draws from previously unpublished letters and interviews with physicists, theologians, and other close associates and family of John Templeton.
  3. 'Investing the Templeton Way' by Lauren Templeton, Scott Phillips (ISBN 0071545638) Lauren Templeton and Scott Phillips’s “Investing the Templeton Way”. Lauren Templeton is the grand-niece of John Templeton and Scott Phillips is her husband. Together, they run Chattanooga, Tennessee-based Templeton & Phillips Capital Management. Investing the Templeton Way focuses on the critical role of temperament, and how mastering this element to investing equips the investor to succeed across the span of time and varying market circumstances.
  4. Louis V. Gerstner, Jr.’s “Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?” This book is an account of IBM’s historic turnaround led by Gerstner during his tenure as chairman and CEO of IBM from April 1993 until March 2002. Gerstner led IBM from the brink of bankruptcy and mainframe obscurity back into the forefront of the technology business.

The Four Filters of Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger

Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway

Countless portfolio managers, hedge fund managers, investment analysts, mutual funds, institutional pools of capital and individual investors have grown up devouring everything that’s been said or written by or about Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger over the years.

In the 2007 letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, Warren Buffett wrote, “Charlie and I look for companies that have a) a business we understand; b) favorable long-term economics; c) able and trustworthy management; and d) a sensible price tag.” Based on this sage advice, value investors must look for:

  • A business that we can understand. A business within your circle of competence.
  • A business with favorable long-term prospects. A business with a line of business that is not easy to duplicate. A business with excellent cash flow profile: excellent ability to generate and invest cash.
  • A business led and perated by honest and competent people.
  • A business available for sale at a very attractive price.

Prem Watsa’s Recommended Books for 2014

Prem Watsa of Fairfax Financial Holdings (Canada)

Prem Watsa is a shrewd investor who is often called the Canadian Warren Buffett. He is an immigrant from India who arrived in Canada in 1972 and has been running Fairfax Financial Holdings since 1985. Prem Watsa was born in Hyderabad and studied chemical engineering at IIT-Chennai before emigrating to Canada. Under his leadership, Fairfax’s sales and earnings have been growing and it’s stock price has compounded at the average rate of 19 percent annually.

On understanding and managing risk, Prem Watsa has said, “this idea exists in the marketplace that you can take any risk, put it into a structure, into an asset-backed bond, and you can eliminate, get rid of the risk. … Protect yourself, you don’t know when Katrina comes in.”

Here are five books recommended by Prem Watsa at the 2014 annual meeting of Fairfax Financial Holdings on 09-Apr-2014, Wednesday at Toronto’s Roy Thomson Hall.

Warren Buffett, the Mattress Salesman at Nebraska Furniture Mart

One of the traditions at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meetings is an hour-long light-hearted movie show. In fact, the “movie” is a collection of video clips some of which showcase commerials and skits from Berkshire Hathaway’s vast array of businesses, some featuring Buffett-comedy, surprise celebrity features, and so on, often to wild laughter among the crowd.

'Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything' by Warren Buffett with Carol Loomis (ISBN 1591845734) In 2013, the Berkshire Hathaway video started with a cartoon version of Dancing with the Stars with Warren Buffett and partner Charlie Munger as judges. After the judges dismissed every contestant, including Dairy Queen and the Geico Gecko, the judges themselves won the contest by dancing to the Gangnam Style. The 2013 movie also had clips of Warren Buffett and Fortune Magazine’s Carol Loomis appearing on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart to promote “Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything”. A humorous debate over “ketchup” vs. “catsup” from the sitcom King of Queens highlighted Berkshire Hathaway’s buyout of H.J. Heinz Company (in partnership with Brazil’s 3G Capital.)

In recent years, the “movie” has also featured Warren Buffett’s opening statement to a Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives on the Salomon Saga. “Lose money for the firm, and I will be understanding; lose a shred of reputation for the firm, and I will be ruthless,” warns Mr. Buffett at the end of that opening statement.

The security staff at the Berkshire Hathaway meetings forbid attendees from recording audio or video from the opening movie due to confidentiality and copyright restrictions. At the beginning of the movie, a voice-over or video recording from Warren Buffett assures appearances from “a number of people you recognize” and reminds that the celebrities work for free, at the request of the notoriously stingy Buffett. “Surprise, surprise.”

Over the years, the most popular clips in the movie feature a hilarious Warren Buffett attempting at diverse jobs in Berkshire’s businesses. Here’s one from Berkshire’s furniture business, Nebraska Furniture Mart.

The Warren and Charlie Show at Berkshire Hathaway’s Annual Meetings

Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meetings

Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meetings

At the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meetings in Omaha, Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger sit at the center of the stage in front of a dark sea of shareholders. Warren Buffet first fields questions from the audience and a panel of journalists and stock analysts. Warren answers them and will ramble on a bit in his unique way (often with a one-liner or two mixed in) for a few minutes.

Then, Warren will look over to his partner and query, “Charlie?” Then Charlie Munger will either lean in and make a sharp, critical, pithy, often derisive comment (which usually extracts gasps or loud chuckles from the audience) or simply remark, “I have nothing to say,” which can be entertaining particularly after a long-winded digression from Warren Buffett.

Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meetings are normally held on the first Saturday of May in Omaha, Nebraska.

Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meetings

Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meetings

Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meetings

Recommended Reading

A Definitive Guide to Berkshire Hathaway’s 2014 Annual Shareholders Meeting

Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meetings

Value Investing Conference and Genius of Warren Buffett Course

Shareholder Events on 02-May-2014, Friday

Cocktail Reception at Borsheim's Fine Jewelry for Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders

Tent at the Berkshire Hathaway Cocktail Reception

  • Cocktail Reception at Borsheim's Fine Jewelry for Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM: Cocktail Reception at Borsheim’s Fine Jewelry. Borsheim’s is Berkshire’s flagship jewelry retailer and the second biggest jewelry store in the world. This cocktail reception is exceptionally crowded. And Borsheim’s also sets a tent in the parking lot to accommodate the swarms of people enjoying the dinner buffet, open bar, and live musical entertainment, all complimentary. Vegetarians can get their fill of broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and crackers. Location: Borsheim’s, 120 Regency Parkway, Omaha NE 68114 [map], (800) 642-4438.

Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders' Meeting at CenturyLink Center, Omaha

Shareholder Events on 03-May-2014, Saturday

  • 7:00 AM: Doors Open at CenturyLink Center for the annual meeting. Shareholders, young and old, assemble hours before the opening of the doors to the CenturyLink center and, as soon as the doors are unlocked, run as quickly as they can to get the best seats in the house.
  • 7:00 AM: Complementary breakfast: free pastries and bottled drinks in the stands at CenturyLink Center.

Fruit of the Loom store at Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting Shopping

Challenge Warren Buffett in Newspaper Tossing Challenge at the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders' Meeting

NetJets display of Signature Flight Support at Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders' Meeting

  • 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM: NetJets Display. “Signature Flight Support” on the east side of the Omaha airport. Collect passes to the NetJets display at the NetJets stall in the shopping area. Shuttle busses leave the northwest corner of the CenturyLink Center. On display are a fleet of NetJets aircraft “sure to set your pulse racing. Warren urges, “Come by bus; leave by private jet. Live a little.”
  • 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM: Buy-your-own lunch at CenturyLink’s stands.
  • 3:30 PM to 3:45 PM: Recess / regrouping
  • 3:45 PM to 4:00 PM: “Official business” part of the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting.

Berkshire Cookout at Nebraska Furniture Mart

Big Time Cookout at Nebraska Furniture Mart (NFM) for Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders

Shareholder Events on 04-May-2014, Sunday

Warren Buffett tries to soften up U.S. Olympian Ariel Hsing in Ping Pong at the Borsheim's Shopping Day

Throughout the Week: Shareholder Discounts and Shopping

  • At Borsheim’s Fine Jewelry, shareholder prices will be available from Monday 28-Apr-2014 through Saturday 10-May-2014. Borsheim’s is usually open 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM on Mondays and Thursday, 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM on Saturdays. Borsheim’s is located at 120 Regency Parkway, Omaha NE 68114 [map]. Most of the items in Borsheim’s are discounted no less than 30% for Berkshire shareholders.
  • At Nebraska Furniture Mart (NFM,) shareholder prices will be available from Monday, April 28th through Saturday, May 10th. Nebraska Furniture Mart is located at 700 S 72nd St, Omaha NE 68114 [map]. NFM is open 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM Monday through Saturday and 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM on Sundays. Shareholder discounts are also available at Nebraska Furniture Mart’s stores in Kansas City and Des Moines (no furniture; just appliances, electronics, and flooring.)

Getting Meeting Credentials

Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders' Meeting Credentials Meeting credentials are required to enter the CenturyLink Center for the Berkshire Hathaway meeting or the adjoining area to hit the stores of the many Berkshire subsidiaries. Meeting credentials are also required to get special shareholder pricing at Borsheims, Nebraska Furniture Mart, and other stores that might offer shareholder discounts.

Berkshire Hathaway meeting credentials are no more than a plastic identification card and an associated lanyard. The identification card is not personalized and does not contain the shareholder’s or attendee’s name.

Here’s how to get your meeting credentials:

  • If you are a shareholder, your brokerage will send you the annual shareholders’ packet along with a postcard to request a maximum of four passes for the Berkshire annual meeting. Fill this postcard and drop it in the mail. Berkshire will send you passes and lanyards.
  • If you are a shareholder, but do not have time to request the passes, did not receive the passes, or did not receive the shareholder packet from your broker, take proof of your ownership of Berkshire Hathaway stock. Take a statement of your holdings from your broker to the annual meeting at the CenturyLink Center on the Friday afternoon or Saturday morning of the annual meeting to get your meeting credentials.
  • Many years ago, Berkshire Hathaway shareholders started auctioning the annual meeting passes on eBay for a premium. To hinder this premium, Berkshire Hathaway started directly selling two passes for $5 on eBay, with free shipping. “We decided to sell them ourselves on EBay at a nominal price to keep people from getting stung. We hope nobody pays more than what we charge which is basically to cover mailing charges,” a Berkshire Hathaway representative had informed Omaha World-Herald. Buyers could provide a mailing address when you checkout or just collect their passes from the CenturyLink Center on the Friday afternoon or Saturday morning of the Berkshire meeting.
  • If you are straining at the leash to go to the annual meeting and don’t have passes, just show up early on Saturday morning at the CenturyLink Center. I have seen shareholders in the line obliging to requests for passes from devoted fans of Berkshire; this practice needs to be discouraged.

Recommended Reading: “The Oracle & Omaha, How Warren Buffet and His Hometown Shaped Each Other”

‘The Oracle & Omaha, How Warren Buffet and His Hometown Shaped Each Other’ by Steve Jordon, Omaha World Herald

'The Oracle & Omaha, How Warren Buffet and His Hometown Shaped Each Other' by Steve Jordon, Omaha World Herald (ISBN 0615793940)

15 Rules and 10 Don’ts for Evaluating Companies by Value Investing Pioneer Phil Fisher

Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits, by Philip Fisher

Philip Fisher, Investor, Author of Common Stocks And Uncommon Profits Philip Fisher (1907–2004) is widely considered the pioneer and thought process leader in long-term value investing. Even after ten years after his death, Fisher is widely respected and admired as one of the most influential investors of all time. Fisher developed his long-term investing philosophy decades ago and discussed them in his seminal book, Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits. Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits was first published in 1958 and continues to be a must-read today for investors and finance professionals around the world.

Phil Fisher’s Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits is a perfect complement to Ben Graham’s The Intelligent Investor. Fisher’s book explains the qualitative side to value investing, while Graham explains the quantitative side of value investing. Warren Buffett, the world’s most successful value investor, describes himself as “85% Graham, 15% Fisher.”

Core to Fisher’s value-investing philosophy is that long-term value investors who will be investing in a company for 20-30 years should understand and appraise the management of a company because it is the management who is directly accountable for the long-term financial performance and business competitiveness of the company.

Phil Fisher’s Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits can be summarized by means of his 15-point checklist for buying stocks and a 10-point don’t list. These principles will stand the test of time.

Phil Fisher’s 15 Rules for Evaluating Companies for Value Investing

  1. Does the company have products or services with sufficient market potential to make possible a sizeable increase in sales for at least several years?
  2. Does the management have a determination to continue to develop products or processes that will still further increase total sales potential when the growth potential of currently attractive product lines have largely been exploited?
  3. How effective are the company’s research and development efforts in relation to its size?
  4. Does the company have an above-average sales organization?
  5. Does the company have a worthwhile profit margin?
  6. What is the company doing to maintain or improve profit margins?
  7. Does the company have outstanding labor and personnel relations?
  8. Does the company have outstanding executive relations?
  9. Does the company have depth to its management?
  10. How good are the company’s cost analysis and accounting controls?
  11. Are there other aspects of the business somewhat peculiar to the industry involved that will give the investor important clues as to how the company will be in relation to its competition?
  12. Does the company have a short-range or long-range outlook in regard to profits?
  13. In the foreseeable future, will the growth of the company require sufficient financing so that the large number of shares then outstanding will largely cancel existing shareholders’ benefit from this anticipated growth?
  14. Does the management talk freely to investors about its affairs when things are going well and “clam up” when troubles or disappointments occur?
  15. Does the company have a management of unquestioned integrity?

Phil Fisher’s 10 Don’ts for Evaluating Companies for Value Investing

  1. Don’t buy into promotional companies.
  2. Don’t ignore a good stock just because it is traded “over-the-counter.”
  3. Don’t buy a stock just because you like the “tone” of the annual report.
  4. Don’t assume that the high price at which a stock may be selling in relation to earnings is necessarily an indication that further growth in those earnings has largely been already discounted in the price.
  5. Don’t quibble over eights and quarters.
  6. Don’t overstress diversification.
  7. Don’t be afraid of buying on a war scare.
  8. Don’t forget your Gilbert and Sullivan (Don’t be influenced by what doesn’t matter).
  9. Do not fail to consider time as well as price in buying a true growth stock.
  10. Don’t follow the crowd.

Recommended Reading

  • 'The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing. A Book of Practical Counsel' by Benjamin Graham, Jason Zweig (ISBN 0060555661)
    The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing. A Book of Practical Counsel: Benjamin Graham, Jason Zweig updates timeless “value investing” wisdom from the greatest investment teacher of the twentieth century, Benjamin Graham. This beloved book has been the investors’ bible since its original publication in 1949.
  • 'One Up On Wall Street' by Peter Lynch, John Rothchild (ISBN 0743200403)
    One Up On Wall Street: Peter Lynch, John Rothchild describes a well-revered bottom-up approach to investing in stocks by selecting companies familiar to the investor followed by a comprehensive fundamental analysis with emphasis on a company’s prospects, its business, it’s competitive environment, and then determining a reasonable price for the company’s stock. Peter Lynch is Vice Chairman of Fidelity Management & Research Company.
  • 'The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America' by Warren E. Buffett, Lawrence A. Cunningham (ISBN 1611634091)
    The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America: Warren E. Buffett, Lawrence A. Cunningham is a thematically arrangement of the lengthy writings of Warren Buffett. This classic book provides an understandable and consistent understanding of the principles and logic of Warren Buffett’s attitude to life, investing, and business.