Lunch with Buffett
Board: Berkshire Hathaway
I'm the only person that has won not one, but TWO Buffett Glide lunches. Me and my friend paid around $20,000 each in 2000 and 2001. Everyone I knew thought I was absolutely crazy to pay such an exorbitant amount of money to have lunch. I explained that this was the chance of a lifetime, similar to having lunch with JP Morgan or Nelson Rockefeller.
At the time, the auction was only conducted live at a Glide Charity dinner. It was simply one of many things you could buy that night. Each time I was the only phone bidder, no one outside of the dinner even knew about it.
The next year the auction was put on eBay for the first time. Once the auction passed 6 figures I wrote Warren a note explaining that while I would have liked to make it 3 in a row, as a deep value investor the price seemed out of line:)!
It was an amazing experience and WEB seemed truly perplexed why anyone would be "crazy" enough to do this two years in a row. At the time I seemed like a swashbuckling fool with too much time and money on my hands. I wish everything I bought went up 100 times in value in just over 10 years!!!
Here's what I learned at the lunches.
WEB is a wonderful man.
WEB went out of his way to give us more than we bargained for...he invited us both years to his country club for an elaborate Sunday Brunch which was held the Sunday after the annual meeting. At that brunches I met Bill Gates, Charlie, Bill Child from R.C. Willey, Bob Simpson and many others.
The second year, WEB was concerned that we would have a another great experience. He offered to bring his friend Carol Loomis (editor of Fortune mag) to lunch, so that we could have some more and different insights. We politely declined, we wanted WEB for the full time.
He was a bit perplexed that we went out of our way not to ask for tips, or really, to even talk about the stock market. We were concerned that he would trot out his 20 famous quotes like "look at shares as a piece of a business", or "don't own a stock for 10 minutes that you wouldn't own for 10 years" or "When I buy a stock I don't care if they close the exchange for 10 years", etc.etc. We didn't want to waste our money on a rehash of all that so we steered away. We got to know WEB the person, and we talked about George W Bush, Donald Trump, Baseball and other interesting things that are not common knowledge. This made it fun and interesting.
I think one of the biggest things I learned from WEB, both at those lunches and in general is when he says his life(outside a private plane) is not much different than ours. When there is a big football game on TV, he watches on a big flat screen, when he wants to celebrate, he eats a big steak. He really is a salt of the earth guy. He also opened up his calendar (still in use then)and showed us how empty it was, that made a big impression too. The guy does not muck up his life and time with things he "has" to do. It was fun "just hanging out" with WEB. That's what we wanted and that's what we got!
Do you all think this was a smart tactic or in some way a wasted opportunity? The guy has instant radar for anyone trying "to get" something from him. We also thought if we triggered that radar the lunch could be over in half the time...remember there was no set time limit.