I Might Not Swing for Two Years
A classic 1985 interview from Warren Buffett which might be one his most iconic
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Only $500 million
The catalogues of interviews that, a younger, Warren Buffett gave back in the day are like goldmines. While Buffett’s soundbites from back then are packed with nuggets of wisdom, I find them satisfying for another reason. With the benefit of retrospect, these interviews illustrate the power of taking a simple, methodical, approach to investing and executing it religiously and consistently over a number of decades. Buffett sounded smart back in the 1960s1 as a young 32-year-old man. He sounded wise in the mid-1980s as he approached 60 years of age; which I will demonstrate in the video I share later. Fast forward to today and he remains the proverbial wise owl of the market. The thing is, he’s been saying, there or less, the same things for the last six decades.
When he sat down with George Goodman in 1985, he gave, in my opinion, one of the most iconic interviews of his career. At the time, Buffett’s net worth eclipsed $500 million; a measly figure compared to his, now, $110 billion+ net worth. Goodman was intrigued by how a man, tucked away in the heart of Omaha miles from Wall Street, could generate such incredible returns.
This is just timeless content, and I find watching discussions like these help recentre me; reminding me to focus on what’s important. Not the noise, not the opinions swirling around on the internet. Just understanding businesses, ascertaining whether or not you see value/quality in them, and waiting to acquire them at the right price. My hope is that watching this (or rewatching if you’ve seen it before) gives you that much-needed kick up the ass to remember what is important, and what is not.
Below I will highlight some of the highlights from the interview, as well as share the full transcript for supporters.
What Do You Do Differently Than 90% of Money Managers?
“Certainly, most of the professional investors focus on what the stock is likely to do in the next year or two, they have all kinds of all kinds of arcane methods of approaching that. But they do not really think of themselves as owning a piece of a business. That the real test of whether you're investing from a value standpoint or not, is whether you care whether the stock market is open tomorrow, if you're making a good investment”.
“You get overstimulated and Wall Street and you hear lots of things and you may shorten your focus and a short focus is not conducive to long profits. And here I can just focus on what businesses are worth. And I don't need to be in Washington to figure out what the Washington Post newspaper is worth. And I don't need to be in New York to figure out what some other company is worth. It's simply it's an intellectual process. And the less and less static there is in that intellectual process, really, the better off you are”.
Letting Winners Pass You
“I don't have to make money in every game. I mean, I don't know what cocoa beans are gonna do. I don't know. There are all kinds of things I don't know about. And that may be too bad. But you know, why should I know all about them, I haven't worked that hard on them. In the securities business, you literally every day have thousands of the major American corporations offered to you at a price, at a price that changes daily, and you don't have to make any decisions, nothing is forced upon you”.
Why Investors Struggle to Keep It Simple
“The data is there. So they focus on whether if you buy stocks on Tuesday and sell them on Friday, you're better off or if you buy them in election years, and sell them in other years, you're better off or if you buy small companies they're all these variables because the data are there and they've learned how to manipulate data. And as a friend of mine says to a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail and once you have these skills you just are dying to utilise them in some way. But they aren't important”.
Qualities of Succesful Investors
“It's a temperamental quality, not an intellectual quality, you don't need tonnes of IQ in this business. You need a stable personality, you need a temperament that neither derives great pleasure from being with the crowd or against the crowd. Because this is not a business where you take polls, it's a business where you think, and Ben Graham would say that you're not right, or wrong, because 1,000 people agree with you. And you're not right or wrong, because 1,000 people disagree with you. You're right because your facts and your reasoning are right”.
I took the liberty of transcribing the full interview for supporters.