AUTHOR'S NOTE: There will likely be many accounts detailing the question and answer session at the 2005 annual meeting. I thought I would offer a more personal angle to the entire weekend, complete with pictures so that those who were unable to attend this year can live vicariously through me if they are so inclined. I may discuss the actual meeting and Q&A session in more detail on another thread if there hasn't been enough coverage, but that is unlikely. If you are just looking for Buffett/Munger meeting comments, you may consider this to be a waste of time. Borsheim's was a very nice store in a very nice shopping center. The girls who worked there were all incredibly attractive, regardless of age. I briefly questioned the coincidence, but then forgot what I was thinking about when one asked me if I needed help. Become a Complete Fool
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Day 1 -- Arrival in Omaha
Day 2 -- The Annual Meeting
Day 2 -- After the Meeting
There and Back Again
Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds
I woke up without an alarm at 7am, so I guess I went to bed early enough the night before to catch up on some much needed sleep. The plan was to spend all day at Borsheim's for their Berkshire Hathaway Exclusive Shareholder's Day. Before leaving, I went downstairs to the free breakfast and ate enough food to make up for missing yesterday's free breakfast on the day of the meeting (I helpfully suggested that free breakfast should begin at 4 am.
Outside was a tent where the day's events were to be held. There were large heaters outside pumping heat into the tent, which was a nice touch as the weather was a bit chilly.
Inside the shopping center were a few other stores which had signs up welcoming shareholders. There was also a man playing a grand piano, and an open bar running almost all the way around the inside of the shopping center. There was a free brunch buffet both in the mall and outside in the tent, with a free bar at each (tells you just how much Borsheim's sells in one weekend). The buffet had several chocolate fountains where you could take marshmallows and pieces of fruit and dip them in.
Borsheim's itself was exquisite. There were pieces of jewelry there, which easily costs more than my net worth. I wanted to inquire about some square diamond earrings for my anniversary. I went over to the "cheap" section and found a pair that actually had 4 smaller diamonds put together to look like one larger diamond in each earring. One pair was $18,000 and the other (of the same size, but a different color) was $24,000. Thanks anyway. I liked how he referred to the cheaper yellowish diamonds as "warmer." It was a nice touch. Ultimately, I ended up buy a pair for $300. They weren't on display, the sales woman had to dig out a box under the counter.
I was very disappointed with the level of service offered to me through most of the day. The one exception was the lady who made the sale, she was the nicest sales person I have ever dealt with, and I once worked in sales for six years through high school and college. I asked for her card, and will be writing a letter to management today complementing her. I can understand they were busy, but even those standing around with nothing to do wouldn't talk to me. It was if they were afraid someone richer might come along and by selling to me they might miss the opportunity to sell to him. One lady even walked away from me as she was answering my question to insure that I did not ask another. My purchase quickly brightened my spirits however, and the saleswoman informed me that Borsheim's has an "upgrade" policy good for the rest of your life, where you can trade in your old Borsheim's jewelry at exactly the price you paid for it and use the trade in towards a more expensive piece of jewelry.
This is Susie standing inside Borsheim's, Warren is in the background. She had her own security detail as well.
This is one of my favorite pictures from the weekend. Warren went up to an attractive couple looking at very large necklaces and tried to make the sale. He wholeheartedly recommended the biggest one. I forgot to go back and check if they ultimately purchased it.
After talking to the couple, he came out onto the floor and I got to briefly meet him. This is a picture of him shaking my hand (I handed the camera to someone) but unfortunately the whole thing happened so quickly I'm not actually in the picture (that's 0 for 2!).
After this, Warren disappeared for a while and then showed up back in the tent about an hour later. He sat down to play a few hands of bridge a couple of times throughout the day. The lady in the black he is talking to is two times world bridge champion Sharon Osberg. Can anyone identify the kid? He showed up in a picture in the Omaha World Harold playing bridge against Buffett last year as well. I'm guessing he is a junior bridge champion.
Here, Buffett is playing bridge against two shareholders while teamed up with eleven-time world bridge champion Bob Hamman (not pictured). Not exactly a fair match up. Blue tags mean security, if you haven't figured that out.
And finally � the piece de la r�sistance. Yours truly with Warren Buffett. I wish I were smiling more, and I wish I were talking to him in that picture, but hey, I'll take what I can get. I'm not sure who the lady between us is. She has a stage pass, which from what I could tell was reserved for directors, so she is someone of consequence. Does anyone recognize her?
Also on hand was two times U.S. chess champion Patrick Wolff. Here, he is playing blindfolded against six separate men at once. Mr. Wolff is seated in the chair on the right-hand side with a red blindfold on; his assistant is moving a piece per Mr. Wolff's instruction. Patrick Wolff defeated all six men. One of them was a very good game and had a few close calls. I had been told all day he would only play one round, so when he said he would play another without the blindfold, I quickly jumped in.
I am seated on the end. This picture is just after Patrick attacked my French Defense in only the second move of the game, predicting I lack the competence to respond correctly to such an attack. He was proven correct and I was soundly defeated. There is a play in chess called "Fool's Mate" where one can be checkmated in only two moves. My goal was to not have that happen to me, and I achieved that goal, so by my account the game was a success.
I had a great time at the Borsheim's event. Although it got very crowded in the store, the usual huge crowds were nowhere to be found. I later found out that this was because Borsheim's Friday night welcoming cocktail party was so unbelievable crowded that apparently most of the 20,000 shareholders expecting to come in to Omaha had gotten their fill. This made Buffett and the buffet much more accessible. I ended up getting to meet Buffett twice, and of course got the picture seen earlier.
On the way back to the hotel, I asked the cab driver to stop by Buffett's house for a quick picture. Buffett lives on Farhnam street, which [is] one way at certain times, one way (the other way) at other times, and two way at still other times. Much has been made of his house being modest. It is said that he purchased it for $31,000 in 1958. I think most people don't realize that represents over $200,000 in today's dollars, he was not yet a millionaire, and he has added on plenty since, including a racquetball court. So I'm not sure "modest" is the appropriate term, although it is certainly not something built into the side of a mountain like Bill's house. Overall it is a very nice neighborhood and I enjoyed seeing it in person.
I headed back to the hotel to drop off still more BRK products before grabbing some dinner at Perkins, and deciding to cross the river into Iowa to make a go at the casino. I went to Harrah's and played Texas Holdem poker (is there any other kind?) until it was time to pack up at 4:30am. I did well, but it costs me $50 just to get there and back to the hotel. All in all, I earned enough to cover my cab fares for the weekend, and I had some fun.
As I fly home, I reflect back on my weekend. I had met the two richest men in the world, received a free MBA worthy education in seven hours, got a picture with my hero, and played chess against a two time U.S. Chess Champion.
After all that, I head home to live the other side of my alter ego. I have had one of the very best weekends of my life, and there are few to share it with. None of my friends or co-workers knows what Berkshire Hathaway is, and no one has ever heard of Warren Buffett. When they ask me how the trip went, I reply, "I met Bill Gates" and leave it at that. I think to myself this must be how superman felt when returning from wild some adventure to live as mild mannered Clark Kent.
I hope some of you have enjoyed my account of the weekend. I feel happy I have people to share it with, even if I don't know what they look like. Will I go back again? You bet. I still have to meet Munger.
I have an online photo gallery housing the pictures you have seen in my posts, and a few extras that were not seen. For those who are interested, that gallery can be found here.
Sometime tonight I will go in and label all of the photos.
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AUTHOR'S NOTE: There will likely be many accounts detailing the question and answer session at the 2005 annual meeting. I thought I would offer a more personal angle to the entire weekend, complete with pictures so that those who were unable to attend this year can live vicariously through me if they are so inclined. I may discuss the actual meeting and Q&A session in more detail on another thread if there hasn't been enough coverage, but that is unlikely. If you are just looking for Buffett/Munger meeting comments, you may consider this to be a waste of time.
Borsheim's was a very nice store in a very nice shopping center. The girls who worked there were all incredibly attractive, regardless of age. I briefly questioned the coincidence, but then forgot what I was thinking about when one asked me if I needed help.
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