20 Minutes With Warren Buffett
"We didn't want to get into questions about economics or finance, since so much of that was covered during the almost nine hours of the event, so we kept it personal," says Seaton.
Buffett struck a chord with the MMM group when he opined that business schools these days should focus more on hands-on learning than theoretical financial models that students will never use.
"He started getting into academia and how so much [of business education] is theory," recalls Seton. "[Buffet] thinks it's a complete waste of time to teach students things like that when they're never going to use any of it."
It was a particularly relevant note for MMM. At the beginning of setting up their fund, they received a letter from one of their teachers discouraging them from investing real money in favor of the models Buffett derided. It's hard to get better vindication than from Buffett himself.Integrity Rules One of the biggest takeaways MMM members got from the trip was the importance of integrity. "You start realizing that with all the scandals in the last four or five years," says Seaton, "that having Warren Buffet and Charlie Munger at the helm of Berkshire Hathaway for so long -- and shareholders loving everything about them -- is really a testament to not only their business acumen, but also their ethical decision-making." According to Seaton, something that Buffet said over and over again throughout the weekend: "We have all the money we could ever have and a good reputation. One thing we'll never do is trade even an ounce of that good reputation for more money." This year's meeting proved to be an especially difficult test for Buffett and his team. Berkshire's PacifiCorp subsidiary is taking heat from Native American groups and commercial fisherman because of their dams on the Klamath River. Those protests spilled over to Omaha last weekend. "There were protesters there," recalls Seaton. "When people were asking [Buffet] questions, they'd run by and interrupt, and a couple of them made accusations to Buffett. The level of respect [Buffett] showed for them, despite that, was pretty amazing. You could see some of these people who came to the meeting to cause a disturbance almost have nothing to say after Warren Buffet answered them because he was so dignified in the way he talked to them." Next year, the group hopes to get the chance to meet with Buffett again -- especially if they can get the chance for more face-time. Until then, they hope to use the insights they've gained from Buffet and his Berkshire team to keep raking in the gains in their own investments.
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