Paths to Success: 5 Career Lessons to Learn from Warren Buffett

No matter what your career goals are, sharing successful people’s strategies will give you insight on how to get ahead. This week, we are featuring investment king Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. Here are five career lessons you can learn from the path to success of one of the richest businessmen in the world.

Have your career goals in mind, even when you’re at the bottom

Buffett’s youth is a great example of working with what you have. At the age of six, Buffett had his first experience with investment when he resold six-packs of Coca-Cola for a nickel profit each; during his teenage years, he moved up to reselling pinball machines and studied books on investing. No matter where you are, try to use your resources to gain experience in the field you wish to pursue.

Get a mentor

At Columbia Business School, Buffett was taught by the famous securities analyst Benjamin Graham, who deeply impacted Buffett’s investment philosophy and later became his boss. Mentors like Graham are a treasure trove of knowledge and opportunity for people of all experience levels. Buffet is an example of how students can use their university years to find a mentor, possibly a professor.

Set up informational interviews

When Buffett discovered that Graham was the Chairman of the then-unknown insurance company GEICO, he took a train to its headquarters and relentlessly pounded on the door until he was granted an informational interview with its Financial Vice President. Eventually, Buffett would acquire the entire company through Berkshire Hathaway. Be proactive and interview companies you’re interested in—but unlike Buffett, make sure that you call first!

Network—and don’t forget your family and friends!

Buffett became a millionaire in his early 30s by partnering with his friends and family in private investments, challenging the idea that you should keep family and business separate. Don’t make it a point to avoid discussing career matters with your family and friends; they want to see you do well, and you might end up getting up a job lead over Thanksgiving dinner.

Consider more than numbers

When making investment choices, Buffett believes that it’s vital to inspect not only a company’s finances, but also to learn how the company works. Likewise, when considering where you would wish to work, consider factors beyond the company’s monetary worth—would you thrive under its management style and do you agree with its mission? These questions will help you find the company that’s right for you.

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