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Review | Gems from Warren Buffett By Mark Gavagan

Posted by Rebecca G. Aguilar, M.Ed. on May 4, 2012

Gems from Warren Buffett by Mark Gavagan

ISBN-13: 9780980005653
Publisher: Cole House LLC
Publication date: 6/1/2012
Pages: 62

It’s Berkshire Week! More than 30,000 people gathered at the Woodstock of Capitalism for Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting.

A shopping day treated investors to special discounts from Berkshire Hathaway brands Bookworm, Justin Boots, Borsheims Fine Jewelry and See's Candies. A highlight for 2012 was presentation of a tulip, “The Warren Buffett, a.k.a. The Wild Warren,” named after the Berkshire Hathaway CEO. Investors, of course, were drawn to Berkshire Week to catch a glimpse of the Oracle of Omaha.

Skipped the pilgrimage this year? Why not pre-order Mark Gavagan’s new book, Gems from Warren Buffett: Wit and Wisdom from 34 Years of Letters to Shareholders?

In the book, Gavagan snips Warren Buffett’s clever insights, hilarious asides and aaargh-inspiring one-liners from past letters to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders. A few witticisms from Vice Chairman Charles T. Munger are referenced in the text of the quotes.

The book’s chapter headings tend to read like Mungerisms: Managing with Style; Bankers, Brokers, Consultants and Other “Helpers”; I Screwed Up.

The quotes were compiled by Gavagan, a former day trader who contrasts his fast and furious profession with Berkshire Hathaway’s “buy and hold forever” philosophy. According to the author, the book was “intended to consume just a few hours and provide some humor and insight.”

Characterizing Buffett into a private equity Confucius, this book, along with Poor Charlie’s Almanack, should be required reading for an MBA program’s ethics course.

We neither understand the adding of unneeded people or activities because profits are booming, nor the cutting of essential people or activities because profitability is shrinking.  That kind of yo-yo approach is neither business-like nor humane.— 1987 Letter

The quotes in the book are used with permission and 20 percent of sales will be donated to GLIDE, a charity generously supported by Buffett.

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. buys businesses as well as securities with strong earnings, a tenet of the company’s legendary growth philosophy.

Our goal is more modest: we simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful.—1986 Letter

Exploiting market bubbles, creative accounting and capitalizing on derivatives are all lambasted by Buffett in deference to value and real economic substance.

Only in the sales presentations of investment banks do earnings move forever upward.—2000 Letter

There are really only three kinds of people in the world: those who can count and those who can’t.—1998 Letter

The only value of stock forecasters is to make fortune tellers look good.—1992 Letter

Based on an analysis of one Buffett quote, 6 percent is clearly an admirable rate of return on investment. A magnanimous nature can be inferred from some of the quotes on smart business. And, Buffett, who has made it clear that writing large checks to the government is simply good corporate responsibility, always tends toward altruism and optimism.

Money will always flow toward opportunity, and there is an abundance of that in America.—2010 Letter

The Oracle of Omaha can handle succession plan concerns and Occupy Capitalism protestors at Berkshire Week. He is worth $43 billion. Plus, he’s an admirable person. Shareholders certainly trust in his leadership to sustain the long-term well-being of Berkshire Hathaway.

Gems from Warren Buffett: Wit and Wisdom from 34 Years of Letters to Shareholders by Mark Gavagan is a worthwhile read to coincide with the hoopla of Berkshire Week and the annual shareholders meeting in Omaha.

Category: Nonfiction, Business

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