Wednesday, August 14, 2013

rule #3

It had been a very busy weekend, Bryson was playing in a national Ultimate tournament in Minneapolis and Jennie and I had gone up to support the team, watch the young man play, and visit some old friends. While certainly a bit hectic, it was a wonderful weekend all across the board; Bryson and his team played very well, the weather was outstanding, and Jen and I had a ball with our friends. As we were leaving town we were in a hurry and had to grab a quick sandwich on the way to the airport. We stopped at a Jimmy John’s in Blaine Minnesota and as we were ordering, the sign (pictured to the right) caught my eye.

To say the least I wasn’t expecting a moment of inspiration in the midst of the lunch rush at Jimmy John’s. Grabbing a sandwich and getting back on the road to the airport was my complete plan, but the sign caught my eye and especially rule #3.

3. Never Suck Your Thumb
Gather in advance any information you need to make a decision, and ask a friend or relative to make sure that you stick to a deadline. Buffett prides himself on swiftly making up his mind and acting on it. He calls any unnecessary sitting and thinking “thumb-sucking.”

I have been thinking a lot lately about “taking action” and in my previous essay (“Seeds of Today”) I encouraged readers to reflect on how MaMa (my paternal grandmother) and Goethe both encouraged and supported the idea that there was power and impact in taking action “today.” Now here I was in suburban Minnesota and Warren Buffett was sending that same message from a sub shop wall.

It’s important to reflect on Buffett’s Goldman Sachs investment in 2008. In the absolute midst of the financial meltdown, Buffett/Berkshire Hathaway invested $5 billion into Goldman Sachs and now almost five years later, that investment is now worth over $8 billion. What’s amazing about the deal is NOT the impressive return or the classic Buffett approach of buying when everyone else is selling. It’s the Wall Street legend that has him on the phone with the Goldman Sachs CEO Loyd Blankfein for 15 to 20 minutes and then making the $5 billion investment. 15 – 20 MINUTES!!! Truly no “thumb-sucking” there!

It’s an understatement to say that Warren Buffett is in a different league than all of us everyday investors. Sometimes these stories (and others like them) seem to be from another world, not part of my hectic, on the road, raising a family lifestyle. While that is clearly true, the message jumping off the wall is one that links with MaMa and Goethe. The time in our life for action is NOW. In whatever the endeavour, whether at work, in your social life, at your kid’s school, in your marriage, or even at a playing field in Minnesota, the time to take action is now.

p.s. I had the pleasure of meeting Warren Buffett at a Coke board meeting about ten years ago and my experience that night reinforces many things that have been written about him. I was literally at a picnic table with him and a number of my colleagues and other board members and I remember him telling very folksy stories about Omaha and his passion for Cherry Coke. I also remember that we were all eating corn on the cob he had a drip of butter come down his hand and hit his jacket sleeve. He laughed about how we was going to have to “hide the butter stain” at the board meeting tomorrow… just like us, he had only brought one jacket!

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