The 'Woodstock of Capitalism' Commences
It was now time for the meeting to begin.
As I walked up to the stage, numerous members of the audience recognized me and mostly yelled out, "Good luck" -- though there were some Bronx cheers. I felt like a heavyweight fighter approaching the ring to the cheers and boos of the crowd. It was very exciting. In fact, this happened throughout the weekend as many of the Buffettphiles recognized me and either cheered or jeered me. It was all in good fun -- I think!
Before getting up to the stage, Warren came up to me and wished me good luck -- "Give it your best shot," he said. I introduced myself to Charlie Munger, who initially sat next to Buffett with the other members of Berkshire's Board of Directors.
I was then introduced to Berkshire Board member and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, which for me was one of the highlights of the day.
Slowly we all began to assemble on the stage.
On the left were the journalists --
The New York Times'
Andrew Ross Sorkin and
Becky Quick. In the middle of the stage was Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett. On the right were Nomura's insurance analyst Cliff Gallant, Ruane Cunniff's Jonathan Brandt and myself.
For the first time I grew nervous as I faced nearly 40,000 people in the Century Link Center crowd, and as the legendary Oracle sat only a few feet away from me. The entire board of directors, including Bill Gates, were in the first few rows in front of me.
As the meeting started, and throughout the first hour, I literally felt my heart thumping. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. Yup, that's how I felt.
But, in time, and after a hysterical 45-minute start -- during which a "Dancing with the Stars" video was shown to the audience that included Charlie and Warren dancing to PSY's "Gangnam Style" -- an almost eerie calm descended on me.
The best commercials for Coca-Cola, Geico and other Berkshire subsidiary products were shown, and there was also a wonderful video parody of "Breaking Bad" which saw Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul reprising their roles as Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. Instead of cooking up meth, the drug-dealing duo opts to focus on peanut brittle, and Warren appears at their motor home in the desert and offers to buy out their peanut-brittle business. They have a stare-down -- and Warren, of course, wins and buys their company. He calls Charlie Munger after the deal is agreed to and Charlie's response is priceless: "Brittle, bitches!"