Last night I was on a plane to South Africa, overjoyed to be escaping freezing London for a 30 day 'time out' in and around Cape Town. After watching the excellent Rescue Dawn, which I firmly believe to be on a par with The Deer Hunter, I flicked over to watch an interview in which Nebraska University students asked questions of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.
Watching these great people respectfully and patiently answer questions from students was a true lesson in life.
Out came the notebook...
These aren't exact quotations by any means, as I was scribbling to keep up, but it is what I 'got' from the film:
WB (3rd richest guy in the world): 'Your inner scorecard is always, always more important than your outer scorecard.'
BG: (richest guy in the world): 'I get a million emails per day. Seriously.'
WB: 'I tell my guys to make every decision as if an unfriendly reporter from their local newspaper is in the room, who could instantly destroy their reputation with colleagues, family and friends. We got all the money we want - we can lose money. But we can't afford to lose reputation.'
BG: 'I model much of my existence on Robin Hood.'
WB: 'The day I die I will have done a full days work because I genuinely love what I do. I never want to stop. I only found out how much I earned in my first job at the end of the first month - there was never any need to ask as I was absolutely clear that this was what I was supposed to be doing.'
BG: 'I would like to extend my lifetime and read faster. I love being corrected by my wife.'
WB: 'Dynastic fortunes are not what America is about. My kids will have enough money to do whatever they want, but not enough so that they can do nothing at all.'
BG & WB: '99% of our fortunes will go on philanthropy - towards making the world a better place.'
And lastly, in response to the question 'What is your definition of a successful person?', Buffett responded: 'If you die surrounded by people who genuinely love you, you are a successful person.'
What an awesome legacy, and what a great message for people to hear at Christmas.