Friday, December 11, 2009

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett Speak Out

Recently, Columbia Business School hosted an evening with Bill Gates, former chairman of Microsoft and current chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. The event was televised on CNBC on November 12, 2009.

Some of their observations regarding character, philosophy, principles and the future (which I have paraphrased) are worth thinking about. They influenced my thinking and might influence yours, as well.

Question: Will greed ever go away?
Buffett: Greed will always be here.

Question: What is the most important thing you do every day?
Gates: Learning. Reading a lot and arming myself with information.

Question: What industry is going to produce the next Bill Gates?
Gates: Perhaps the energy business or healthcare. We haven’t solved a lot of medical problems and more will be solved. Both sectors have a chance to produce some significant leadership.

Question: What are your feelings about the future of the U.S.?
Buffett: I am enthusiastically optimistic about America.

Question: What keeps you up at night?
Gates: Little keeps me up at night. Well, long-term, I am concerned that our educational system is not improving as much as it should.

Question: What’s the one thing your MBA at Columbia prepared you for?
Buffett: I discovered my interest in investments.

Question: What makes you stand out from the crowd?
Buffett: If you can say, “We did what we did because we have a passion for it” -- that makes you stand out from the crowd.

Question: As you progress in your business career, what are the key things to remember?
Buffett: Consistency, focus and staying positive.

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