Want your kid to be the next Warren Buffett? He tells you himself how to do it.
Well, I was lucky that I got started early. It always helps when you get started early... at age probably seven or something I started reading these books that were around [my dad's office], so I had a fifteen-year jump on many people in a sense. And that helped a lot. And I was always fascinated by it, and I knew what I wanted to do early.
Warren Buffett's father was a successful businessman and investor himself, and it was from a young age that Buffett first began learning the principals of investing, largely from his father -- who he has described as "his greatest inspiration" -- and the time spent reading in his dad's office. He started his first business when he was six, buying six-packs of Coca-Cola for a quarter, and then selling the cans for $0.05 each.
He made his first investment in a stock when he was 11, buying three shares of Cities Services Preferred for $144 dollars in 1942, which was good for about $1,650 in today's dollars. Not a bad start for an 11-year-old.
Yet while those early ventures undoubtedly helped shape Buffett, it wasn't until he narrowed his focus after reading Ben Graham's The Intelligent Investor, one of his three favorite books, when he was 19 that Buffett truly began to understand investing, as he described his formative adolescence as follows:
"I started investing when I was 11, but I started reading about it when I was seven. So I'd gone through all -- I'd read every book in the Omaha public library by the time I was 12 on investing and the stock market. I had a lot of fun, but I never really found out, I never really got grounded in anything. It was entertaining, but it wasn't going to be profitable."
Have a narrow focus
It was from both Graham's books and Buffett's time spent with Graham at Columbia University -- and later as one of his employees -- that the foundational principals of value investing were truly shaped in his life.
In a world where information is continuously generated, and the speed at which both information travels and attention spans shorten will only increase in the coming years, having formative mentors and philosophies that shape investment strategies will be essential.
It was from both his father and his professor that Buffett learned these things, as he even went on to name his son Howard -- after his father -- and Graham -- after his mentor and professor.
Yet it wasn't just the knowledge he gained from a young age, but also his supreme discipline, as he also remarked:
You don't need a lot of brains in this business... but what you do need is emotional stability.
Patience, persistence, and discipline
Buffett has long noted the lasting value of long-term, buy-and-hold investment thinking. Consider that of his current net worth, nearing $60 billion, $59.3 billion of it came after he turned 50, and $57 billion came after he turned 60.
His daughter-in-law, Mary, was once asked the most important lesson she learned from Warren, and said plainly; "Patience and discipline. And doing something you love."
When it comes to children and adults alike, understanding that investment gains are not made in hours, days, or years, but instead over a lifetime is critical, and having the wherewithal and emotional discipline to endure times both good and bad is essential.
Where to begin
Buffett has said, "teaching kids sound financial habits at an early age gives all kids the opportunity to be successful when they are an adult," and he even set up his own website, The Secret Millionaires Club, to help parents in this process. Even if you find yourself without children, it's not hard to imagine a thing or two can be learned there anyway.