Book Review: “The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life” by Alice Schroeder

Warren Buffer is one of people I admire. He’s got excellent business sense with integrity. With one track mind of acquiring money, he became one of the richest men of the world. And now, he stands ready to give away his money to good causes just like the steel tycoon, Andrew Carnegie. I admire his talents and good sense of life purposes.

I often wondered how he could acquire so much weather just by managing a good stock portfolio. This book gave a good account of his rise from being a trader working for Ben Graham, his mentor and teacher, to his huge, current holding of Berkshire Hathaway. It was through the “snowballing” or compounding the assets and the “float” of the assets he owns that the snowball got as big as it is now.

Some of Warren Buffet’s winning traits: 1. stay focused: he doesn’t own too many stocks – just enough for him to pay his full attention. This applies to friendships too. 2. Buy with caution and sufficient margin of safety – like American Express when under stress. 3. Do your homework; reads a lot. He likes to read the annual reports from cover to cover and Wall Street Journal. 4. Only buy stocks he understands the business models. 5. See the big picture: for every $1 he spent now, he thinks it’s like spending $10 in the future so he takes care not to waste money.

His other quirks: 1. doesn’t like confrontations because of his fear of his irate, bipoloar Mom, 2. doesn’t like letting go – like the relationship with his estranged wife, 3. applying his one-track focus on relationship like the ones with Kay Graham. 4. drinks Pepsi early in his life and Cherry Coke after buying big chunk of Coca Cola.

Have read an earlier biography of Warren Buffet by Roger Lowenstein, I believe this book goes into more details about his relationship with his loved ones – his wife, his mistress – Astrid, his children. It also goes into more details about each deal. The audiobook is wonderful as the narrator mimics Warren Buffet’s voice really well, giving the audiobook some vividness. The printed book has many photographs that connect the characters to their real faces.

Overall, I can say with certainty that Warren Buffet lives his life to fullest potential and yet he judges his own success by how much he’s loved by the people he wants to love him. The bonus is that he’s loved by many people who need not love him. Now, how many people can claim that kind of success in their life times?!