Warren Buffett is widely recognized as one of the best investors that has ever walked planet Earth. His path toward amassing his jaw-dropping $61 billion fortune, mainly though his holdings in Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A) (NYSE:BRK-B), however, hasn't been straightforward by any means.
As you might expect, Buffett's life has been filled with numerous trials and tribulations -- from the fabled Salomon Brothers Treasury bond scandal in the early 1990s, to his more recent but highly unpopular defense of Goldman Sachs when the firm was facing the possibility of a criminal investigation over allegations of fraud.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Buffett's lengthy career, though, is that he's never let life's headaches keep him from achieving his long-term goals. After all, Berkshire's long track record of crushing the broader markets stands as a testament to Buffett's uncanny ability to overcome any and all obstacles standing in his way:
While there are certainly dozens of insightful takeaways that could be gleaned from Buffett's 50-year career as an investor, I think everyone can benefit from learning more about one of his core principles that have guided him through good times and bad.
One of my favorite all-time pieces of advice from Buffett is this: "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently."
In many ways, the sheer simplicity and common-sense nature of that statement belies its profound implications for modern-day life. Throughout his career, Buffett has used his reputation sparingly to turn around a failing business or to gain a tactical advantage. But when he's needed to, the weight of his reputation as an investor of the highest caliber has generally carried the day.
In the Salomon Brothers scandal, for instance, Buffett was able to persuade the U.S. Treasury to rescind its trading ban on the firm in a matter of hours, based on nothing more than his solemn word. This stunning reversal basically saved Salomon Brothers, along with Berkshire's massive 12% stake in the investment bank at the time. That's the awesome power of a good reputation and why it's so important to protect it.
Buffett shows us how to properly use social media
I find this sage advice so compelling because it's only gotten better with the passing of time. We now live in the age of social media, where one unfortunate tweet or Facebook post can almost immediately cost us jobs, friends, and even our spouses.
Perhaps that's why Buffett has tweeted all of a whopping seven times since opening a Twitter account over two years ago:.
And if you take the time to read through this small sampling of Buffett's musings on Twitter, you'll quickly realize that they lack any type of controversy and are essentially little more than standard boilerplate.
Yet the Oracle of Omaha has more than a million followers and currently has the most followers for a CEO of any Fortune 500 company! Put simply, Buffett clearly demonstrates that you don't need to court disaster in our professional or personal lives on social media to be popular. Boring apparently does just fine.
Buffett's minimal and somewhat pedestrian use of social media obviously reflects his lifelong dedication to protecting his personal brand. And that's a pivotal lesson that everyone should take to heart in an era where social media can make or break our lives almost instantaneously. After all, you don't know when you're going to be need to tap your reputation reservoirs to achieve your goals.
George Budwell owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. The Motley Fool owns and recommends Berkshire Hathaway, Facebook, and Twitter. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.