How Much Would You Pay for Lunch with Warren Buffett?

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Credit: Aaron Friedman, Flickr

Someone will be paying more than $3 million in an auction for a two-hour lunch with one of the wealthiest people in the world, Warren Buffett.

As the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet is routinely ranked in the top five richest people in the world. Forbes lists his net worth at $84 billion, making him the third on their global list. While Buffett still makes serious business moves, his latest investment is Uber which has had trouble with self-driving cars.  

Yet, he often makes himself available for events that allow him to offer advice to young entrepreneurs. One such event is an annual lunch with him, auctioned off the highest bidder. This year, after the lunch, the two men who met with him shared the advice he gave them.

Who is Warren Buffett?

Born in 1930 to a U.S. Congressman, Warren Buffett showed an early interest in business. He started working in sales, going from door to door to hock his wares. Eventually, he bought a pinball machine and placed it in a local barber shop. This launched his first successful business operating pinball machines.

Eventually he moved to investments, assuming control of Berkshire Hathaway in 1962. Once a textile company, Buffett turned it into an investment company that had interests in everything from newspapers, broadcast networks, retail stores, and more.

buffett, warren buffett

Credit: Borsheims Jewelry, Flickr

Buffett is also active in politics. He became an ally of President Barack Obama during the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. He gained some populist support for his proposal that he should pay more in taxes as a billionaire than his assistant, leading to the so-called “Buffett Rule.”

Buffett survived prostate cancer, diagnosed in 2012 but soon telling the public the disease went into remission. Recently, he pledged to give 83 percent of his fortune away to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

So, What About This Auction?

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Credit: Aaron Friedman, Flickr

Every year, Warren Buffett auctions off about three hours of his time as part of his charity effort GLIDE to fight homelessness. The 2018 auction ends today, and at the time of this writing the highest bid is $3.2 million. The 2017 winner paid $2.7 million for the privilege of dining with Buffett.

Since 2000, Buffet’s annual lunch auction brought in more than $25 million. However, he was able to leverage those meetings into a position at Berkshire Hathaway picking stocks in which to invest.

People have to prequalify to join active bidding, which started at the measly (by comparison) amount of $25,000. GLIDE estimates that this auction counts for about ten percent of their annual budget. Currently, much of their focus is on San Francisco. Thanks to the explosion of tech companies in the area, the cost of living increased to levels many natives can no longer afford. On our ​list of the seven richest neighborhoods in the country, the Bay Area took three places on that list.

What Do These Bidders Want from Warren Buffett?

buffett, warren buffett

Credit: Borsheims Jewelry, Flickr

For 2017 winner Ted Weschler, he landed a job in Buffett’s firm. However, that’s not what everyone seeks from these lunches. Others just want to pick Buffett’s brain for advice about life and business.

Only the winners (and the seven friends they bring with them) know for sure what this sage advice entails. But the winners of the auction in 2007, investors Guy Spier and Mohnish Pabrai, shared with CNBC some of the wisdom he offered. 

buffett, warren buffett

Credit: Aaron Friedman, Flickr

Buffett told them to ensure that whatever they chose for their career is something they love to do. Specifically when it comes to the high stakes and high stress world of investing, if you hate it you will probably fail at it. He also acknowledged the perception that in world of big business, you do your best to screw over the sucker you are doing business with, before that sucker does it to you. Buffett dismissed this attitude, telling the two men that approaching all of their deals with integrity is paramount. Along with possibly running afoul of the law, deceit tends to not earn people repeat business.

His final piece of advice is a curious one, but worthy of consideration. Buffett told his lunch companions that “really successful people” say “no” to things more often than they say “yes.” One would think that Buffett’s time would be heavily structured, but it isn’t. He showed the two men his calendar, which was mostly empty. Buffett likes spontaneity, preferring his freewheeling style to a schedule planned out minute by minute.

Wait, That’s the Advice They Paid $600,000 For?

While surely Buffett offers more specific advice, it’s likely that the two investors who spoke to CNBC are keeping most of what was said to themselves. But, it’s probable you could glean nuggets of wisdom from the many interviews and panel talks Buffett often does. There are hours and hours of these online, if you don’t have millions of dollars to spend for lunch at a fine dining steakhouse.

Whether you agree with Warren Buffett’s outlook on business, politics, or life itself, is irrelevant. If you want to grow your wealth to live an even more luxurious lifestyle, he’s worth listening to. What you choose to do with the information and advice he offers is totally up to you. But with a net worth of more than $80 billion, Warren Buffett is doing something right.

What do you think? Would you pay that kind of money just to eat lunch with Buffett? If not him, would you pay that sort of money for lunch with anyone (dead or alive, since we’re just imagining)? Leave your answers in the comments below, or tell us on social media when you share the story with your friends. 

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