The Levo League recently interviewed Warren Buffett in the wake of his Fortune essay that discussed the need for women to play a larger role in the nation’s future. In addition to explaining why he is “bullish on women,” Buffett dispensed an hour’s worth of tips that anyone taking his or her first job out of college should heed.
Among them: Personal integrity and high ethical standards are essential to career success, and, for Pete’s sake, get over being an introvert if you want to succeed.
Here are some excerpts from the worldwide webcast:
On the need for building a community of mentors around you: “If you tell me who your heroes are in life, I’ll tell you how you’re going to turn out. … I had a dozen or so major heroes, and none of them ever let me down. You want to hang around with people better than you are. You really do. You will move in the direction of the crowd you associate with.”
On finding your passion: “You’re lucky in life if you can find your passion. I tell the students, ‘You may have to take a job or two [you don’t like]– certainly you gotta eat – but never give up searching for the job that’s your passion. Try to have the job that you would have if you were independently rich.’ That’s what I have.”
On getting over being an introvert: “You have to do it. The sooner you do it, the better. To get over the fear of associating with people, you’ve to go out there and associate. And it’s painful. … You’ve got to force yourself sometimes to do things.”
On confronting the fear of public speaking: “You have to learn to communicate in life, it’s enormously important. If you can’t communicate and talk to other people and get across your ideals, and write even, you’re giving up your potential. If anybody has a career potential of X, I guarantee it will be 150 percent of X if they know how to communicate well.”
On the importance of reading: “I read at least five or six hours a day … a lot of it ties in with the business I do, but I really enjoy it … I just love getting more information, and I love building Berkshire.”
On the importance of personal integrity, honesty and high moral ethics: “If you look around the world at people who succeed, the natural leaders, it isn’t because they have the highest IQ or can kick a football the furthest. They’re people that you want to work with.”
On getting into the right business: “It’s very important to get on the right train. You want to get on a train that’s going 90 mph and not one that’s going 30 mph and you’re going to try to figure out how to make it go a little faster. There are some businesses that have far more opportunity than others. … You want to give a lot of thought to what train you’re getting on.”
On admiring whom you work for: “You really want to go to work for somebody you admire, or a business you admire. You’re going to do so much better. … If you’re working for somebody that causes your stomach to churn, maybe you have to do it to keep eating for a while, but don’t settle for it.”
What if this job doesn’t work out? “If you find yourself working for the wrong employer – they’re doing things you don’t approve of or they’re not treating you fairly – the world isn’t over yet. You just go out and find somebody else.”