I made the trip to Omaha recently to glean investing wisdom from two of the greatest investors of all-time -- Warren Buffett and his second-in-command, Charlie Munger -- but I left with much more. Here are 13 of the most memorable life lessons fromBerkshire Hathaway's 2015 annual meeting.
1. On diets Buffett said: "I am one-quarter Coca Cola. ... if had eaten broccoli and brussel sprouts, I don't think I would have lived as long." Buffett added, "I don't see a lot of smiles on the faces of people at Whole Foods."
Continue Reading Below
Both Buffett and Munger spent the majority of the meeting chowing down on See's Candies and drinking Coke -- though Buffett did mix in some pineapple juice for his voice. Say what you will about their diet -- Buffett is 84, and Munger is 91. Maybe they cracked the code: Do what makes you happy.
2. On predicting the future Buffett made it clear that Berkshire will "never made an acquisition based on macro factors." This is because "we know we don't know."
Worrying about interest rates and the global economy is stressful, and you have no control over macroeconomic events. Just do as Buffett and Munger do: focus on what you can predict and control.
3. On taking risk Buffett explained that he and Munger missed some opportunities early on and that they could have "pushed harder." Munger replied: "It's obviously true. If we'd used the leverage that some others did, Berkshire would have been much bigger ... but we would have been sweating at night. It's crazy to sweat at night."
To which Buffett added slyly, "Over financial things."
4. On finding the right people When asked about Berkshire Hathaway's investment managers Todd Combs and Ted Weschler, Munger said: "We want people where ... every aspect about their personality makes you want to be around them. ... Trust first, ability second."
Surround yourself with people whom you want to be around and whom you can trust -- sound advice.
5. On reputations When asked how Berkshire Hathaway has built its culture, Munger suggested that it's about "behaving well as you go through life." Buffett added, "Over time, you get the reputation you deserve. ... I believe the same is true for companies."
6. On seeing a glass half-fullMunger was asked about insurance premiums for older adults. More precisely, it was a complaint that, even when healthy, elders have to pay more for insurance.
Munger replied: "You find you're not deteriorating as fast as your contemporaries. You may be paying an unfair price for your auto insurance, but it's a good tradeoff."
Given the choice of either staying healthy or paying lower premiums, I'd take the first choice, too.
7. On selecting a spouse "Look for someone with low expectations," Munger said.
8. On being likedThe duo was asked by a young boy how they have gotten people to like them. Munger said, "Get very rich and generous."
Buffett added, "People see all sorts of virtue when you're writing a check."
9. Onphilanthropy When asked about his pledge to donate 99% of his wealth, Buffett said, "There's no Forbes 400 in the graveyard." He added that his equity holdings have "no utility to me, but have enormous utility around the world."
Later, Buffett said that his goal was to figure out how he could "do the most good." We may not all have billions of dollars to donate, but I think we can all appreciate the sentiment.
10. On how to succeed"We've now watched a lot of other people get started. The ones who follow [Benjamin] Graham have done pretty well." Munger continued, "Avoid being a perfect idiot."
11. On continuing to learn Munger was asked what matters to him most. He replied, "I think it's dishonorable to stay stupider than you have to be."
12. On preparing for opportunity Buffett was asked why Berkshire Hathaway holds so much cash -- never less than $20 billion -- and he replied, "You never know when the phone will ring."
Moral of the story: Make sure you're ready when the stock market offers you an opportunity you can't miss.
13. On big-picture thinkingWhen Buffett was asked whether today's companies are too short-term-focused, he said, "We don't ignore yearly earnings, but we don't live by them."
Buffett added that he is looking for businesses to be "widening their moat," or improving their competitive advantage. Essentially, while earnings are important, he wants businesses to be constantly improving, and that doesn't always immediately translate to bottom-line results.
Insert any personal goal or aspiration, and this applies.
The article 13 Priceless Buffett and Munger Quotes From the 50th Anniversary Meeting originally appeared on Fool.com.
John Mackey, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Dave Koppenheffer owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. The Motley Fool recommends Berkshire Hathaway, Coca-Cola, and Whole Foods Market. The Motley Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and Whole Foods Market and has the following options: long January 2016 $37 calls on Coca-Cola and short January 2016 $37 puts on Coca-Cola. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
Copyright 1995 - 2015 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
Continue Reading Below