Warren Buffett Reveals the Simple Secret to His Success

Warren Buffett has shared a lot through the years, and he has reached the pinnacle of fame and fortune. But his most recent revelation may be his most important.

Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A  ) (NYSE: BRK-B  ) is now the third richest man in the world with nearly $64 billion in estimated net worth. Despite the notorious secrecy of some, Buffett has been more than willing to share his nearly unbeatable advice on companies and investing through the years, however his recent insight is critical for individuals and investors everywhere.

Image Source: Coca-Cola

The secret
In a wide ranging conversation on ESPN's Mike & Mike radio show, Buffett was asked what the underlying secret to his almost immeasurable success was. His answer was honest, humbling, and something everyone can keep in mind.

Profoundly simple, yet beautifully elegant Buffett noted:

"I found what I love to do very early...when I was seven or eight years old I knew that this particular game really, really intrigued me. And then I had some great teachers along the way."

Starting early
Buffett began pursuing his passion in business early: when he was seven, he began selling Coca-Cola to friends, family and neighbors. He made his money along the way -- he bought the six-packs for a quarter and sold the Coke's for a nickel -- and used his profits to buy his first stock when he was 11. The rest, as they say, is history.

Everyone has passions as a child, and all too often they're shelved in an effort to become the person and pursue the passions others direct us toward. Yet Buffett notes the secret to success is pursuing those very things an individual is gifted in -- whether it be business or something altogether different -- from a young age.

Source: Insider Monkey

Trusting in teachers
Buffett likely learned quickly he had a natural gift in his passion of selling and investing, but also a willingness to be taught by others. Buffett was met with great success in his adolescence, graduating high school when he was 16 and attended the University of Pennsylvania before graduating from the closer-to-home University of Nebraska when he was 20.

Yet he's noted one of his "luckiest days" was when as a 19 year old he picked up the Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham, which was a book he said "not only changed my investment philosophy, it really changed my whole life." 

Buffett then learned under Graham, who was a professor at the Columbia School of Business, when he received a graduate degree in economics from the Ivy League School. And he later went to work for Graham after campaigning for a job for few years. Ultimately Buffett notes in the owner's manual of Berkshire Hathaway:

I benefited enormously from the intellectual generosity of Ben Graham, the greatest teacher in the history of finance, and I believe it appropriate to pass along what I learned from him, even if that creates new and able investment competitors for Berkshire just as Ben's teachings did for him .

The final takeaway
Warren Buffett provides a helpful reminder to the reality and necessity of finding and pursuing passions from a young age, but also the essential nature of being willing to learn from older and wiser teachers. While the pursuit of those passions and individual gifting may not result in a fortune beyond belief, Buffett ultimately suggests those are the true secrets to success.

How to get rich like Warren
While its value is seemingly infinite, the price of Warren Buffett's wisdom is thankfully free. And he's not only happy to share the secrets to his success, but also the secrets to his investments, which have made billions for him and his investors. If you want more from Buffett, now you can tap into the best of Warren Buffett's wisdom in a new special report from The Motley Fool. Click here now for a free copy of this invaluable report. You'll be glad you did.

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Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 12:14 AM, Oregonboy wrote:

    finding and pursuing passions - Those rarely pay the bills. A good job is what puts food on the table for your family. Sorry...many of us work in the real world...not the fake and trickery of wall street crooks.

  • Report this Comment On March 17, 2014, at 5:04 PM, BuffetIsTheMan wrote:

    For the commenters here, yeah, like I'm going to your advice instead of the BILLIONAIRE.

  • Report this Comment On March 20, 2014, at 11:15 AM, TMFMarlowe wrote:

    @Oregonboy, I must disagree. I think WB would be the first to agree that most childhood passions won't make you a billionaire as an adult. But many can turn into rewarding careers that are far more than just "good jobs". Mine did.

    John Rosevear, Fool senior auto analyst and lifelong car nerd

  • Report this Comment On March 20, 2014, at 1:53 PM, RedScourge wrote:

    Finding your passion and pursuing it relentlessly is not too bad, but claiming the rich need to pay more taxes and then quietly finding ways to dodge taxes yourself doesn't hurt either.

  • Report this Comment On March 20, 2014, at 5:48 PM, MfromG wrote:

    Actually you can pursue your passions and make it your living if you work to achieve it. So many complainers and whiners in the world with a million excuses.

  • Report this Comment On March 20, 2014, at 6:15 PM, The1MAGE wrote:

    I don't think there is any single one "secret" that is involved. Sure, this is a concept that many have espoused. That if you do what you love, then you really never do work.

    Yet I know plenty of people who have done what they loved, and spent their lives poor. They didn't know how to transfer their interests into wealth.

    There are stories of Buffett selling Coke as a kid, then buying stock. But his income really started growing when he ran 5 paper routes. He was making as much as the average adult was at the time. Few kids want to have one paper route much less then 5.

    Then, most kids would have spent their money on baseball cards, toys, candy, or whatever they wanted. Buffett saved it, and even purchased land he rented to a farmer, and later bought pinball machines.

    His secret is that he worked hard, saved his money early, and invested it. (Also when he invested money for others, he set himself up with a massive commission, where a portion of the profits above 6% shifted to his name. But there is no doubt he earned it, and the investors were very happy, some of which stayed on when he shifted to Berkshire Hathaway.)

  • Report this Comment On March 20, 2014, at 8:11 PM, parrotwallace wrote:

    I'm sorry that RedScourge feels that way about WB and his taxes.

    Although, let's be honest here - WB did not write the tax laws that allow capital gains to be taxed at lower rates than income - someone at Congress wrote the law - probably when Congressmen were still allowed to use insider information to trade - then it was voted on, presented to the sitting president and signed into law.

    I believe that WB suggested that he felt the tax law was unfair because his secretary paid a higher tax rate on her income than he does on capital gains.

    Dunning anyone for using the tax code to avoid paying taxes makes no sense, since avoidance is legal, were evasion is not.

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Patrick Morris

After a few stints in banking and corporate finance, Patrick joined the Motley Fool as a writer covering the financial sector. He's scaled back his everyday writing a bit, but he's always happy to opine on the latest headline news surrounding Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett and all things personal finance.

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