In May of this year, 2017, I was invited by one of our mortgage fund investors to attend the 2017 Berkshire Hathaway [BH] annual shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska.
The only previously similar investment conference I had attended was in New York City in 2012. This was a Wall Street Journal Investment Fund conference. I listened to some of the smartest [cognitively] people talk on the subject of investments. The presenters all had advanced degrees from ivy league colleges and were so articulate, intelligent and confident when they spoke from the podium. After one day, I had a splitting headache and wondered what I, a private mortgage investor from Santa Ana, California was doing in this NYC conference with all these brilliant, and I mean brilliant, financial engineers.
Notwithstanding, off I went to Omaha.
On Saturday morning, May 6th, Mr. Buffett and his partner, Mr. Munger, came out onto the podium and took their seats before a packed audience of over 40,000 attendees at the Century Link Center in Omaha, Nebraska.
“Hi, I’m Warren and this is Charlie. Charlie is 93 and I’m 87. He can’t see well and I can’t hear well. We complement each other in other ways as well. We are just a couple of guys who grew up in Omaha. We’ve had some investment successes and made some dumb investments as well. We’re human, warts and all. But we try our hardest to do a good job for you, our investors.”
I sat back in my seat with the biggest smile on my face. If I could have laughed at that moment, I would have laughed for a long time. Wow!!!!! I see. I get it!!!!
And then I thought of the contrast between NYC and Omaha.
In New York, not once did I hear a word of caring from the presenters for their investors. It was all so intellectually clinical. Not once in NYC did I hear a word of humanism. It was all so robot-like. In NYC, there were more discussions of what I have grown to call ‘Venus flytrap investments’; investments so complicated that only a doctorate in higher mathematics could follow it.
On the other hand, in Omaha, Mr. Buffett encouraged his audience to check out the jewelry store BH owned in Omaha, plus the furniture store as well. These BH companies were giving special discounts on their merchandise to shareholders!
According to Mr. Buffett and his mentor, Ben Graham, investing certainly involves a degree of cognitive intelligence [120 IQ and sell the excess IQ points if you can, according to Mr. Buffett]. However, there are other important qualities that are “traits more of the character than of the brain.”
That Saturday in Omaha, I witnessed a man who has excelled not only in the investment world but also maybe even more importantly in the everyday world of being just a good human being, warts and all.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Adreana for making possible this once in a lifetime experience in Omaha.
To our Brownstone investors, hope you’re enjoying your rates of return. Thank you for allowing us to work for you. We will keep on trying to do our best for you, each and every day.