Everyone wants to know what's on Warren Buffett's mind.
Tens of thousands of investors make the pilgrimage to Omaha for the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting each spring. Many more read his annual letter to Berkshire shareholders. Lunches with Buffett auction for millions -- last year's went for $3.5 million. There's even a cottage industry on following Buffett's stock picks and market predictions (CNBC has a "Warren Buffett Watch" blog).
So when you get a chance to interview Buffett, you don't pass it up, even if it's not in person or over the phone.
As part of the promotional campaign for the DVD release of "Secret Millionaire's Club, Volume One," an animated series aimed at teaching kids about business, investing, and money management, Buffett answered some brief email questions from The Motley Fool. Our questions adhered to the themes of "Secret Millionaire's Club," which was released on DVD in mid-March, but, as always, Buffett gives thoughtful advice worth considering.
The Motley Fool: What are you hoping kids will learn from the DVD?
Warren Buffett: We are hoping to help kids understand money matters and develop healthy habits from a young age. Things like: "The best investment you can make is an investment in yourself." "The more you learn, the more you'll earn." "Find something you like to do, and you'll never work a day in your life." "Great partnerships will make any job easier."
TMF: What's the most important business lesson you learned as a child, and at what age did you learn it?
Buffett: The best teacher I had was my Dad. I was lucky that my parents helped me develop the right financial habits from an early age. And I had wonderful teachers who taught me the fundamentals from an early age. Not calculus, but the basics. If you get the fundamentals right, the rest will follow. We are trying to teach the basics in "Secret Millionaire's Club," and hopefully help kids develop healthy habits from a young age.
TMF: How did you get involved with the project?
Buffett: My friend Andy Heyward, who is a producer of kids entertainment, and I came up with the idea to help educate kids about financial matters. I thought the idea of using the power of cartoon characters to carry a message teaching financial lessons at an age when it can help them.
TMF: What's your hope for the distribution of the DVD? Do you think these topics should be required in public schools across the U.S.?
Buffett: I was lucky that I learned about money and business from my parents and my teachers, but not all kids have that. We created "Secret Millionaire Club" to help teach kids the basics to make good decisions and develop healthy habits from an early age.
In addition to the shows, we have a contest every year that thousands of schools and youth organizations have competed in called the "Learn & Earn" competition. Kids from across the country use what they've learned and develop their own business ideas. The finalists come to Omaha to present their business plans to me. The contest shows that kids not only understand but have fun with business matters and come up with some pretty terrific ideas of their own!