I met Warren Buffett.
This past month I had the opportunity, alongside 19 other students from the W.A. Franke College of Business, to go on the trip of a lifetime. After an intense interview process, with an upwards of 200 applications, we were the ones that were selected to go and essentially shadow Warren Buffett and his teams from Berkshire Hathaway organizations. We flew to Omaha, Nebraska, and I had the opportunity to not only visit with Mr. Warren himself ( please read further to hear the crazy story of how THAT happened lol), but also got to visit and tour Oriental Trading Company, Borsheims Fine Jewelry, and The Nebraska Furniture Mart. This was probably the most iconic experience of my whole business undergraduate degree. I think I’ve officially peaked.
This whole trip lasted about three days, and it was honestly way too short. I enjoyed Nebraska so much more than I expected, and the group of students and faculty I was with made the experience so much more memorable. As you can see in the photos below, we ended up getting along very well.
Most of us didn’t know each-other before this trip ( I knew about 3 individuals from prior organizations and events we participated in together), and I can confidently say that we made lifetime networking connections with one another. Moreover, I believe we were all selected for this trip for numerous reasons, and I could see them come up as we all networked and bonded with each-other after the first day. It’s quite interesting to see so many successful individuals in one place, and to observe how everyone interacts with and learns from one another. I truly believe that at the end of the day, when one works very hard and becomes passionate and involved, they’ll always be able to have a “seat at the table” and with actual good leaders, nobody really has to fight for the end of the table seat either. I was glad that all of us bonded so well and managed to grasp numerous ideas and values from each person on the trip.
What else is there to do besides laugh and scream when you know you’re about to meet Warren Buffett?
Side note about the crazy way I met Mr. Buffett:
The boy leaning in the middle of the photo, Dane Nardi, and I have been friends for the past 3 years. He and I ended up having a 5 minute conversation with Mr. Warren Buffett himself after his Q and A, while countless individuals in that ballroom did not even get a chance to say hello to him and watched from afar. Everyone else had about 5 seconds or less to shake his hand when the group photo opportunity came along, but not everyone was lucky enough to actually talk to him. Furthermore, I got to talk to him AGAIN during the group photo AND I sat next to him. Hence, that day was the most iconic moment of my life thus far.
This is how it happened:
After his Q and A was done, Mr. Buffett decided to sit at the table with a few students from China since they traveled so far to listen to him. Everyone else was dismissed for lunch. At this exact moment, watching as the crowd left the room, I only thought about one thing…this is a clear and easy path to Mr. Buffett. Nobody was in the way, and nobody was gathering near him except those students he chose to sit with and anyone else that was an official. I looked at Dane, who was sitting right next to me, and we made eye contact. We both knew what needed to be done. We grabbed each-others’ arms and made our way to Mr. Buffett, quickly and efficiently. I cannot explain to you all how badly my legs were quivering while walking over to him. I was SO nervous! I didn’t even know if we could get in trouble for this, since nobody can just go and walk up to Warren Buffett and start a conversation. It’s just not how it works, but I decided I’d rather risk it and get kicked out of school rather than leave the trip and not have a personal conversation with Warren Buffett when I KNEW I could have one. We ended up chatting with him fairly quickly after arriving near his table, and of course, I forced Dane to make the first initial move towards starting that conversation because I forgot how to formulate words when we came up to him. We introduced ourselves, shook hands (!!!!), and actually talked to him like a normal human being. I could not believe it! He was so beyond sweet and easy to talk to, and I made sure to let him know that I loved him (yes…yes, I did do that.), and explain how much meeting him meant to my little Romanian self who worked so hard to get a spot on this trip. After speaking to him, and looking around at how others were shockingly staring at us due to the fact that Dane and I got that personal experience with him, I felt like I was on Cloud 9. Nothing will ever top that conversation and the fact that Warren Buffett held my hand. That’s a statement I never thought I’d write….haha.
It was my official peak in college, and Dane and I will cherish that memory until we die.
Here you can see the group on the Warren Buffett and Bill Gates mattress. Yes, Mr. Buffett and Mr. Gates visited The Nebraska Furniture Mart and ended up laying on it as customers were shopping. I wish I could’ve seen everyone’s faces that day when they realized who was on that mattress.
Here you can see all of us after the Q and A with Mr. Warren. After touring all of the companies I mentioned earlier, we got to have that two-hour Q and A with him, and then he provided lunch for us.
I want to share some of the most important pieces of advice and quotes he gave to us during that Q and A:
- “There are always people coming after your castle.”
- “Marry someone better than you.”
- “You cannot put passion into people, but you can scorch it out of them.”
- “People will always judge you improperly, so hold yourself to high but not impossible standards.”
- ” You should be rational in business, but not always in your personal life.”
- “A few good decisions can get you very rich.”
- “Fight for the causes you believe in.”
- “Have an internal scorecard that keeps you going towards the person you want to be, but don’t expect perfection.”
- “Treasure the people who bring out the best in you. It is hugely important who you associate yourself with in life.”
- “Almost everything I thought was bad in my life worked itself out eventually.”
- “Be passionate and succeed in a job that you enjoy.”
Something that really stuck with me, however, was how at the end of his Q and A he ended up asking us,
” If you had to pick one of the 19 people with you on the bus, and you got to have 10% of their earnings for the rest of their lives, what qualities would you look for?”
This really forced everyone in the room to think not only about their monetary investments or habits, but also about the types of people they want to be around right now and in the future.
Mr. Buffett actually spent the majority of the time not answering financial questions, but life questions. He stressed the importance of having the right individuals alongside you on your journey numerous times. Furthermore, he does not normally discuss his marriage or family matters with the public, but he mentioned that his “… spouse was the most important decision in my life.” I found it incredibly refreshing to hear such real advice coming from a man who is worth 87 billion dollars. I really did not expect to learn so much about life from him, and I am happy that I had the privilege to do so.
Lastly, please enjoy the rest of the photos I took around Nebraska. As you can see, I found England in Nebraska and I’m taking that as a good sign.
Below you can also see some of the photos I took when we went to eat at Upstream Brewery. I loved it! It was such a unique place, the customer service was amazing (they even helped me find my lost scarf- would it be a trip with Giulia if I didn’t almost lose something important to me?), and one of our wonderful donors and mentors for the trip, Mr. Scott Coor, actually paid for all of our amazing meals.