Warren Buffett on Business: Principles from the Sage of Omaha

Warren Buffett on Business: Principles from the Sage of Omaha

Posted by jack_miller | Published 7 months ago

With 28 ratings

By: Warren Buffett

Purchased At: $19.95

The proven business principles of Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett is one of the most admired and prolific investors and managers in corporate America. Warren Buffett on Business is a timeless guide to strategies that can help you run a successful business. This book is a one-of-a-kind collection of Buffett's letters to the shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway written over the past few decades, and in a clear, simple style distills the basic principles of sound business practices.

Through Buffett's own remarkable words, this practical management handbook shares valuable insights on communicating with, and treating employees and shareholders fairly; responsible corporate governance; ethical behavior; patience and perseverance; admitting mistakes; and having a passion for work.

  • Contains priceless pearls of business and management wisdom, woven into a delightful narrative
  • Designed in an accessible manner and organized by business and management topics with strong lessons from Buffett
  • Provides direct, hands-on information on major topics concerning managers, entrepreneurs, business students, and anyone interested in business

Informative and inspiring, this unique book puts Warren Buffett's business beliefs in perspective.

With the main exception of a relatively small textile producer known as Berkshire Hathaway, which Warren Buffett bought outright and which became the springboard for his investing career, the earlier part of Buffett's long and successful career was mainly devoted to non-controlling investments in companies, versus buying whole companies. Thus, today many people think of Buffett as "the world's most successful investor." However, Buffett's investing skills are not the primary topic of this relatively brief and easy reading book (although there is one chapter on personal investing). This book, written by Richard Connors and based on a class he taught about Buffett at the Washington University in St. Louis Lifelong Learning Institute, is devoted to describing Buffett's management activities as CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. That's not a bad idea at all, given that over the years Buffett has gradually placed comparatively less emphasis on Berkshire's investments (which today include the likes of American Express, Coca-Cola and Wells Fargo) and greater emphasis on Berkshire's growing stable of wholly-owned subsidiaries. Indeed, the list of owned companies, like GEICO, International Dairy Queen, Shaw Industries, FlightSafety, Borsheim's Fine Jewelry, Nebraska Furniture Mart and The Pampered Chef, among numerous others, has grown quite large.

The prime source for this book--by far--is Buffett's annual letters to Berkshire's shareholders, written over the last 40 years. Indeed, if you were to count words, my guess is that 95% or more of this book is simply the reproduction of Buffett's comments in his various letters, organized by Connors, the book's author. So if you have read Buffett's letters over the years (an exercise I would recommend to almost anyone interested in business or investing), then you won't find much new material in this book, save for excerpts from occasional interviews with Charlie Rose or excerpts from some of Buffett's other interviews or comments.

Connors has organized Buffett's shareholder commentaries into chapters that address the various important issues of corporate management: executive compensation, time management, assessment of risk, corporate governance and culture, crisis management, capital allocation and shareholder communication, among others. Buffett's comments are interesting, valuable and candid, and he is a very clear and entertaining writer. There is some human interest material, such as an account of Buffett's 1951 Saturday trip to Washington, DC to visit the offices of GEICO (because his mentor, Benjamin Graham, was the chairman of the company). As the somewhat well-known story goes, Buffett pounded on the door to GEICO's locked building, until a custodian finally led him to meet Lorimer Davidson, an assistant to GEICO's president at the time. Davidson, who would go on to become CEO of GEICO, took the time to educate young Buffett on the power of direct marketing of insurance, and years later Buffett would go on to buy the whole company.

In short, although there is precious little new material provided here (hence the four-star rating, not five), this is a very interesting book, and it is interesting primarily because it was essentially written by Warren Buffett, one of the most successful investors--and corporate managers--of all time.

- ignacio_turner

The book not met my expectation and nothing of interest at all.

- derrick_nelson

Great no issues!

- jacqueline_mitchell

Concise, well organized and highly informative. I've purchased several additional copies to give to associates. (My wife says I must really like the book to do that.) Buffett is certainly multidimensional and this is a great way to catch the business operations perspective. You're sure to find something that makes perfect sense and has great application to your own business. Otherwise, just read it because of the humor. Buffett on an exception he made that turned out to be a bad business decision: "I was Snow White, but I drifted."

- rayne_turner

Most books on Buffett focus on his technical expertise. They communicate his genius through his analytic view of the world. This book, in its own way, is more comprehensive. It communicates Buffett's genius by revealing the essence of Buffett the man and allows Buffett to do it himself. In this book, Buffett personally reveals his piercing sense of humor, common sense, and vast intelligence directly to the reader. We get to know Buffett the man which then allows us to really understand Buffett the investor. Reading this book is like having Buffett sitting in our living rooms telling us stories about his life and times. We obviously do not want him to leave.

- vivaan_hall

It was a brand new book as promised and it was delivered very quickly. Tx!!

- elaine_mendoza

Full of great ideas.

- angie_green

Mark F. LaMoure, Boise, ID

Do you want to improve your business for higher success? Richard J. Connors answers that question clearly in his fascinating book: "Warren Buffett On Business." The well-written book delivers 25 winning management strategies, helping you to be more powerfully effective. The book is all about winning business principals for better success. Warren skillfully developed absolultely brilliant principals over many decades. He shares them with you in this first class book on business.

Buffett's book explains exceptional management strategies, representing the sparkling essence of his wisdom and success. I found the book exciting, because it shows you how to succeed far better in the business world through his powerful ideas.

I liked Warren Buffett On Business. Its a must read! The book gives you outstanding insight on higher business ethics, virtues and principals for improving your business. Both to help you understand the challenges of making your business a success, but also as a study on how others in a similar context apply a different approach for better results.

Without a doubt, Buffett is a brilliant genius. Always rated as one of the richest people in the world, his business acuity and management success is on the gold track of business excellence. The book contains 18 Chapters and 4 Appendix's, where Buffett lays out his precious plans for your high achievement.

I enjoyed reading Warren Buffett On Business, because it is excellent and easy to read. I rate the book's quality: 4-1/2 Gold Stars, due to its powerful business advice and superior ideas. You'll find the book filled with a lot of good humor. Buy it, because it delivers great guidance and quality ideas for top notch results. Good luck!

- titan_martin

Warren Buffett is easily one of the most successful investors in history. Although he has officially never written a book, every year he personally writes a Chairman's letter to his Berkshire Hathaway shareholders. No doubt most of these letters could be available on the Berkshire website. However, I found the lengthy bits of detailed financial information often detract from the pearls of wisdom that I am really looking for. The author, Richard J. Connors, makes life easy for us mere mortals and brings us Buffett's managerial principles and practices primarily using extracts from these annual letters. The author must know what he's talking about as he teaches a class on Buffett at the Lifelong Learning Institute at Washington University.

The main advantage of this book is that it is structured by topic, from corporate governance to executive compensation and employee behaviour. It also contains a chapter that specifically addresses business students. A sizeable portion of the text in this book is about acting ethically as a businessperson - a principle that Buffett has espoused throughout his career, and a principle we all could well remember in these sobering times. There are excellent ripostes on managerial accountability, business valuation and capital structure. Also, there are a few scattered warnings on accounting shenanigans such as EBITDA. Warren Buffet is one of those rare business writers who can effortlessly combine clarity and common sense with the requisite amount of well-placed humour.

The lack of editing or commenting on the extracts is both a strength and weakness of the book. A strength in that we hear directly from the main man himself but a definite weakness in that some valuable context is lost especially if one isn't familiar with the history of Buffett's companies. Also it helps to understand baseball analogies as Buffet uses it very frequently to draw suitable parallels in the business world. There are quite a few repetitions in the letters, spanning over 3 decades, covering similar topics. Even though these repetitions can easily be forgiven, the selections could have done more to perhaps try and avoid these.

Finally, it is by no means the best book on or by Warren Buffett but is definitely worth a read or two. It also acts as a valuable reference when one needs to be reminded on what a balanced viewpoint might look like when it comes to investing one's hard earned dough.

- lucas_hernandez

Lots of people seek to categorise or emulate the investing skill of Warren Buffett (the Sage of Omaha) but Richard Connors has a simpler concept; he has taken the annual reports of Buffett to the stockholders of Berkshire/Hathaway and sorted Buffett's views by "management guru book headings". This can result in as bit of duplication but is none the worse for that. Buffett's views on integrity or on derivatives are thus handily packaged for someone who wants to concentrate on that element. Buffett has a plain style laced with humour; it disguises neatly the intellectual force of his views without rendering them false. His is a Shaker style; "tis a gift to be simple". Connors has done an excellent job on making those views manifest.

There are also some amusing one-liners. I enjoyed May West's one in particular.

- jayleen_morgan

As the owner of a small business with ambitions to become the owner of a large business (or, even better, a globe-spanning megabusiness), I tend to listen to what Warren Buffett says on the basis that he didn't get to be the richest person in the world by being stupid and doing things wrong.

As a book this is an excellent primer into his business philosophies, which are both utterly obvious and often counterintuitive at the same time. Utterly obvious because when you read his principles, you'll think to yourself "Well, yeah, anyone would do that", and counterintuitive because you realise immediately afterwards that very few companies actually do follow his working methods - and that's why he's immensely rich and they aren't.

The book is largely comprised of excerpts from letters sent to Berkshire Hathaway investors explaining why he has taken certain decisions and actions, and each chapter covers one business principle in depth. In fact, at first you find the chapters can be repetitive as, for example, when he stresses the importance of always being honest you'll find yourself thinking "Yeah, yeah, I know that - get on with it". After a while, though, you realise why he does repeat himself. It's because each of the points bear repeating, and often, because so few people follow them as rigorously as he does.

The subjects covered - the importance of honesty and reputation, employing people who are better at their job than you are, how essential it is to properly understand and price risk (he gives the lie to Gordon Brown's claim that nobody saw the inevitable collapse of the derivatives markets a couple of years ago - Buffett clearly saw it coming as early as 2002) and others are clearly explained as to why they are important and how to go about them. Buffett explains things like a good teacher - he's obviously much cleverer and more able than me, but everything is explained clearly and from several different angles to ensure you understand, and he feels no need to dress anything up in jargon or hide anything from the reader (another important business principle of his).

As a management guide, it's as good or even better as many tomes several times thicker, and it's even quite inspirational - he describes the inner workings of Berkshire Hathway, and you'll come away thinking "Yeah, I want to run my company like that."
Come the day I ever decide to sell my business, I reckon I could do far worse than sell it to Warren Buffett. Or, after reading this, maybe I'll buy his.

- julissa_morales

I had expected this to be, like other business books I have read, somewhat dry and technical but this isn't. It's fun, informative and good entertainment. Characters like 'Mrs. B' seem almost to have been lifted directly from fiction, yet Buffett does business with them, and his business model as depicted in these pages is something reassuringly simple and good. While this book is not marketed as a prospectus for Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, be warned that while reading it I discovered myself becoming more and more interested in the firm, to the extent that I'd now like to buy shares in it.

J Wiley is a good publisher and they have produced (in the USA) a decent hard back, well printed on good quality paper with decent sized text. If this book has one floor it is the date of the quotation in question being in the end notes only and not being displayed beside each selected piece of writing. The difficulty this presents is that when Buffett writes about a problem with say Freddie Mac its impossible to know if Buffett is talking about recent events or something from some years ago, or if the "future" he refers to from time to time has already happened or not. It would be better, and the book would be easier to read and understand, if the publisher had used foot notes or at least put the dates next to the titles.

There are a few minor annoyances in the writing where Buffett comes across as a rich man disconnected from the realities of ordinary life, but these are rare and comparatively insubstantial.

I enjoyed this book. I've learned from it, laughed with it and am very pleased with it. Buffett is indeed a sage and a few more like him would benefit us all.

- josue_flores

This is a terrific book if, like me, you've been struck by Warren Buffett's pearls of wisdom or enchanted by his folksy, down to earth sensibilities, but aren't particularly interested in his investment strategy.

The book draws together selected passages from his letters to shareholders over the years, grouped around judiciously chosen subject headings - Shareholders as Partners, the Assessment and Management of Risk, Executive Compensation, How to Manage a Crisis, Management Principles and so forth.

The most entertaining chapters focus on the mistakes Buffett has made, and his candour and humility make for joyous reading. I came away from the book wanting more - and despite having no professional interest, am itching to plough through other Buffett tomes.

What stayed with me was the simple truth of many of Buffett's observations - Be fearful when others are being greedy; be greedy when others are being fearful; It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it; It's far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price; Only when the tide goes out do you discover who's been swimming naked and my favourite: When a management with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for bad economics, it is the reputation of the business that remains intact.

I doubt there are many books that manage to make wisdom and uncommon sense so enjoyable to read.

- saylor_robinson

The first brief chapter sets the scene as to how the great man means to go on, and how great his insight
really is. The book gives a wonderful insight into what makes the great man tick how he sets out to treat people. His business advice is clear, simple, jargon free, practical and effective (after all shouldn't business be simple?). He has a wonderful communication style, light, engaging and witty where appropriate and not boring like some business books of this type. The company ethos Warren Buffet and his management team have created and nurtured is the envy of many corporations. As he himself mentions the culture instilled at the core of his organisation there is always a strategy to try foster longer term relationship wherever possible at the expense of short term gains.

You come away and though you may not think you have actually learned very much you quickly come to the realisation that you've actually learned some very valuable principles. I have learned some very
practical business advice from the book, which after reading and reflecting on, make absolute and perfect
sense. Warren famously sat out the "dot com boom" around the early 21st century realising it was just a passing phase. What I love about Warren is his clear calm business style which often the complete opposite of many other so called business animals stalking the great big business jungle.

If you want a book to learn some good business practices on how to best run a company then you can't go
far wrong with this. The mood of the book is engaging, not too heavy and never boring. My only criticism is the book doesn't go on for longer so that I can learn even more from the one they call the Sage of Omaha!

- melvin_torres

Warren Buffett may very well be one of the most successful investors and managers in America, but that holds no truck with me : successful investment is much akin to gambling, and whilst there are elements of shrewd decisions within, what products will and will not be successful rely on a number of factors that entirely unpredictable and beyond control. Therefore, his principles are, at best, informed guesswork.

Calling yourself the Sage Of Omaha isn't going to win any favours with me either - the financial equivalent of the self-titled King of Pop makes me want to bring the ego down a few notches. The first thing you should be aware of is that this is entirely a retrospective work, compiled from letters to investors over the years, and thus, does not reflect the vast changing world we all live in. That, and being astonishingly rich will insulate slightly from the concerns and drivers of the vast majority of people who occupy the planet.

However, what you will find is a nugget of truth, a pearl of wisdom, and common sense maxims in every section of the book : truths so self-evident it is staggering that more people do not have them. The ideas behind this, and the honesty and candour of the explanation, are rare. Despite the bigheaded title, Buffett won me over into agreeing with his way of thinking after initial resistance, and whilst this title will not be for everyone, it certainly has value to those who walk unafraid in thinking differently.

- tori_castillo

I was expecting more from this book than I got. I expected a book written by Buffet but it is a collection of his letters to shareholders. If you are interested in this content then get it but if you are looking for a single, 'complete' book then this is not for you. I enjoy autobigraphies and business books and hoped to get more from this.

- eileen_mendoza

The words of Warren Buffet with their wit and charm have been put together under random groupings, without any context to the underlying economic times or with reference to what Berkshire Hathaway was up to at the time. Each of the quotes has a number to look up in an Appendix - rather than simply placing this information under the section.

I found this book to be entertaining and thought provoking, but also tedious and annoying. I was left with the feeling it would simply make more sense to read all the reports available freely from the BH website - but then they wouldn't be "in context". But they aren't here either. Connors has had a good idea but has either rushed out a book, or missed the point. Or maybe I missed the point.

Beautifully presented, the binding is great, presentation good, It's a good size - it fits nicely in a bag and is readable on a train, but ultimately disappointing.

- diego_lewis

A fine overview of Warren Buffet's outpourings to his shareholders over the years (amongst various other sources), and a decent reflection of his management philosophy.

It's an easy read, and an excellent introduction to the Sage. Highly recommended.

- edison_turner

This is a compilation of writings of Warren Buffet over the years, in letters to shareholders and so forth.

Even for persons (like me) who are not involved in the financial markets or in extensive share purchasing, the writing itself is very enjoyable; clear-headed, and peppered with nice dry humour throughout.

I couldn't help reflecting that the application of just two of the principles Buffet sets out so clearly, would have prevented the financial recklessness that, we are told, has resulted in the current recession.

I have enjoyed this compilation for the quality of the writing and for what it reveals about the thinking of Mr Buffet.

- trey_murphy

The introduction to this book states 'This book is mainly a carefully selected compilation, by topic, in Buffet's own words from his Berkshire Hathaway shareholders letters, written over four decades (1977-2008).' That's exactly what I found so in that sense 'it does what it says on the tin'. So if you like reading extracts of letters, then this may work for you. If however, you're expecting a book that 'tells a story' then you won't find it here.

- amari_howard

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