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TMFPostOfTheDay (< 20)

Lunch with Buffett

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June 12, 2013 – Comments (5) | RELATED TICKERS: BRK-A

Board: Berkshire Hathaway

Author: stilson

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. 

5 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On June 12, 2013 at 11:41 AM, dollarvaluemenu (37.37) wrote:

Sounds like you had a great time. Did Warren "forget" his wallet and make you pick up the tab for lunch?

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#2) On June 12, 2013 at 12:18 PM, craigbutelo (< 20) wrote:

Cocktails with David.

 Superman, Batman, Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle,

David Gardner, Tony Hsieh, Huh?

 

If you could pick two people that you could sit down with and talk to who would they be?

 

Last Friday June 7th, I was in the middle of an insane day. Las Vegas had the usual Friday tourist traffic and it was graduation night. I just finished two trips to the Las Vegas Strip and one trip to take a veteran out to the new veterans hospital. Oh, did I mention it was 109 degrees?

 

I have a couple of projects that keep me busy. These would include listening to stock reports on Bloomberg radio while working on my art. (I recently developed a totally original and unique art technique.)

 

One of the stock research companies (and there are many out there) that I like to consult is called Motley Fool. Not only can they quote P/E ratios and intersecting/dissecting trending, moving averages and blah blahs, but the owners, David and Tom Gardner put a lot of stock (pun intended) in the ethical and human side of the companies that they research.

 

The Gardner's say that they go to each companies CEO and look for the way the CEO treats his employees. They look at his ethics and vision. (You young guys may want to look up the word ethics and also check out fiduciary while you are at it.) I am skeptic about what they say but these things seem important to the Gardner's.

 

In the middle of my insanity, I read a news release that said that David Gardner was going to be at a meet and greet at Tony Hsieh's Gold Spike Casino. You “out of towners” should know that Tony Hsieh is Zappos.com. He is our premier patron of the arts and a person that has a similar ethical outlook about business and life as the Gardener's profess to have. He is a bizillionaire that has promoted a revival of the famous Fremont Street, (the old downtown area.) He is doing wonders for the arts community here. He also preaches vision, ethics and community values.

 

What a fantastic opportunity. David and Tony in the same room. Art and financial advice; one stop shopping! Heck, I didn't even know that they new one another. Maybe Superman will drop by?

 

The function started at 8 PM and and I was still trying to get out of my house. By then, I was at least half crazy with excitement. Star struck? Yes.

 

I walked into a group of about 25 people, and there among them was David Gardner. I watched him as he worked the room. He seemed to genuinely like meeting people.

 

I was ready to burst, and I all but interrupted a conversation that he was having with a gentleman. Okay, I did interrupt but my head was ready to explode.

 

I was able to show David my art. He was gracious and seemed to like my art to the point that he said that he would like to show it to a New York gallery owner that he knows. How cool is that? David said that Tony Hsieh was with him the night before but would not be available tonight. David said that he would provide me with a way to send samples of my work to Tony Hsieh.

 

David Gardner asked me many questions about my investing habits and why I used the Motley Fool for my main research vehicle. I was starting to see that this man, that preached ethics and concern for the human side of investing, was for real. He repeatedly overlooked my insanity.

 

David was accompanied by a staff of three or four of his research editors. These were clean cut, intelligent and very personable young men. I was so impressed that I came home and signed up for a class in options trading with one of them.

 

I have already made a little money by listening to Motley Fool research. The best part is that you get all of their knowledge basically for peanuts. (Cheaper than the cost of one of the economics books that they bought for college!)

 

I have been in the rodeo of life for a while now. I can smell a skunk from pretty far away. This was not one of those times. I am going to review my portfolio in an effort to move more funds into their recommendations.

 

In conclusion, maybe the Gardner's are correct. A “face to face” can reveal a bunch about a person's motives. If David told me to drink the Kool-Aid, I probably would.

 

No College Craig

 

P.S. Superman failed to show up.

 



 

 

 

 

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#3) On June 12, 2013 at 7:52 PM, HarryCarysGhost (99.68) wrote:

Let me ask you this simple question-

Do you think Warren Buffett would ever be stupid enough to blow twenty grand to have lunch with anyone?

Pretty sure he would invest it.

Guess that's why he's the billionaire and your not.

(ps- I'm not trying to be a dick, it's just something you should think about)

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#4) On June 15, 2013 at 3:04 AM, Zakrooster (67.61) wrote:

Pretty sure the auction is for charity. Based on how much Warren Buffet has given to charity, I would say yes, he would spend much more than 20,000 if the money was going  to the right place!

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#5) On June 15, 2013 at 9:08 AM, HarryCarysGhost (99.68) wrote:

@Zakrooster

Ok, that at least makes a bit more sense. (I obviously didn't think of the charity angle before I posted)

Still that is a lot of money, my point was you don't get to billionaire status by giving your money away. Once your there well, you can't take it with you. So yes that is very commendable.

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