Warren Buffett Shares His Most Essential Advice For Generation Y

by Sean Levinson | May 8 2013

Warren Buffett assumed the role of mentor to the youth yesterday when he gave networking and career advice in an “Office Hours” session with Levo League, a site aimed to assist youngsters in making their dreams come true.

The Berkshire Hathaway CEO shared personal stories about his fear of public speaking, and notably told women to “stop holding yourself” back.

Here’s 9 points Buffett highlighted as some of the most important steps to follow on the path to success:

1. Find your passion.

“Never give up searching for the job that you’re passionate about,” he says. “Try to find the job you’d have if you were independently rich. … Forget about the pay. When you’re associating with the people that you love, doing what you love, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

2. Be careful who you admire.

“If you tell me who your heroes are, I’ll tell you how you’re gonna turn out. It’s really important in life to have the right heroes. I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve probably had a dozen or so major heroes. And none of them have ever let me down. You want to hang around with people that are better than you are. You will move in the direction of the crowd that you associate with.”

3. Learn how to communicate effectively.
While getting his MBA from Columbia University, Buffett revealed that he was “terrified of public speaking,” causing him to withdraw from a Dale Carnegie class. But after graduating he saw the ad for the course again and decided to give himself a second chance.

“I became associated with the 30 other people in the class. We couldn’t stand up in front of a group and say our own name. I mean it was — we were — it was pathetic. But that class changed my life in a big way.”

4. Develop healthy habits by studying people.

“Pick the person that has the right habits, that is cheerful, generous, gives other people credit for what they do. Look at all of the qualities that you admire in other people … and say to yourself, ‘Which of those qualities can’t I have myself?’ Because you determine whether you have them. And the truth is you can have all of them.”

5. Learn how to say “no.”

“You won’t keep control of your time, unless you can say ‘no.’ You can’t let other people set your agenda in life.”

6. Don’t work for someone who won’t pay you fairly.

“I do very little negotiation with people. And they do little with me, in terms of it … if I was a woman and I thought I was getting paid considerably less than somebody else that was equal coming in, that would bother me a lot. I probably wouldn’t even want to work there. I mean, [if] somebody’s gonna be unfair with you, in salary, they’re probably being unfair with you in a hundred other ways.”

7. Become involved with growing businesses.

“I mean, you want to get on a train that’s going to go 90 miles an hour and not one that’s gonna go 30 miles an hour and you’re gonna try to figure out how to, you know, push it along a little faster. So it really does make a huge difference. And there are some businesses that inherently [have] far more opportunities than others.”

8. Learn everything you can about your industry.
Buffett says he reads for six hours every day because he believes that growing your intellectual capacity will help you solve problems more effectively.

“I knew a lot about what I did when I was 20. I had read a lot, and I aspired to learn everything I could about the subject.”

9. Young women should seek mentors.

“These [mentoring] relationships all just evolve. I never set out to become a mentor … It’s amazing … how the person that really wants to do a terrific job just jumps out. There aren’t that many. You will be perceived as exceptional and as a worthy person for a superior to spend some extra time with if you just do something extra all the time. It seems elementary, but it’s true.”

At the end of the interview, Buffett reminded everyone to keep getting up after all falls because “you are healthy, and bright and have decades ahead of you.”


3 Habits to Make Your Work Life (and Your Bank Account) Positive

by Aaron Pitman | Nov 20, 2012

I wasn’t always a positive person. Being pushed around as a kid made me pretty angry. I hated being shoved into lockers, I hated being terrible at sports, and I hated not fitting in.

At the same time, I was driven to prove myself. When I was introduced to entrepreneurship, I realized I needed to change if I wanted to find success. I was tired of being angry. I needed to focus on the upside of things, so I made the decision to change. That was the key word: decision.

So how did I go from being a broke college kid to a 24-year-old self-made millionaire in just a few short years?

I began reading books daily, I became a student of positive people, and I started attending a weekly leadership conference. One day, I heard the speakers say, “Your thoughts and beliefs got you to where you are today, so are you happy? If not, you need to make a change.” I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t where I wanted to be. It was at that moment that I revamped my view on how I should operate in the world. Within a few months, my friends – and my clients – started calling me “Mr. Positivity.”

And here’s the hard truth: If you don’t buy into a bulletproof wall of positivity, you won’t make it as an entrepreneur.

Buy into Positivity

Business is a world of ups and downs. You can’t let a bad day drag down your entire month. You can’t let a bad month impact your year, because soon it won’t just be one bad year; it’ll be five. If your mindset is negative, then only negative things will happen; if your mindset is confident that better times are coming, great things will happen. What you think shapes how you feel, which dictates what you do, which determines what you get, which results in what you become.

Shift to a Positive Mindset

Previously, I was radiating negative energy. Once I became a more positive person, my energy changed – and so did my attractiveness to others. When my first six-figure investor approached me for a domain name, he said, “I’m not investing in this project – I’m investing in you.” And that is exactly how each investor, partner, and prospective client is thinking about you as a business leader.

There are three things you can do right now to create a bulletproof mindset – and become more attractive. They might sound hokey, but all of us can benefit from more positivity, and subsequently more success, in our lives. Make these three habits part of your daily life, and I promise that you will have a prosperous and successful entrepreneurial career.

1.) Write down ten affirmations that you aspire to achieve on a piece of paper. The idea is to figure out what you want or have not achieved yet, and write these goals down as if they’ve already happened: “I am an incredible entrepreneur,” “I deserve all of my success,” “I am a millionaire,” and so on.

Upon waking in the morning, read your affirmations out loud with pride and confidence. Really believe in what you’re saying. Try it for 30 days, and see how your mindset becomes more upbeat.

2.) Take a few hours to write out your perfect day if money and time were not obstacles. Be as descriptive as you can, from sun up til sun down. This will expand your vision and erase your limitations. Read the entire thing out loud daily for 30 days. Envision it. Make it yours. Watch your life change.

I firmly believe that thoughts become reality. Your thoughts will lead you to take the correct actions to achieve your goals. Dream big and design your life.

3.) Surround yourself with positive people. Like it or not, the people around you have a big impact on your life. Author Jim Rohn says your success is directly related to the top five people you spend your time with. They can impact how much money you make and how far you get in your career.

Once I stopped associating with people who were lazy and negative and started spending time with people who wanted to find success, my own success soared. I sought out people I could learn from. When I passed expensive cars in parking lots, I would approach the owners, ask to buy them lunch, and pick their brains. Knowledge is everywhere; I just had to take the first step to find it.

Find Your Success

I started asking myself whether success or comfort was more important to me – those were the choices I was really fluctuating between. The final choice wasn’t hard to make.

Clients and customers want to invest in – and do business with – people who have good energy and people they can trust. Having a bright outlook will attract people to you, and it will earn you the reputation and foundation you need to be successful. It’s not something you can fake, and it’s not something you can learn in a day, but it can change your life.


The Real Meaning of Success

by Paul Jun | October 29

A lot of needless suffering is rooted in the misperceptions of success.

We are surrounded by a materialistic culture and get to experience first-hand the kind of “happiness” it brings when we obtain a specific title or object. You may even feel it from time to time, like buying the new iPhone or basking in the scent of a fresh new car. It’s not necessarily bad to have these things, but many times, the reasons why we crave these things are a bit misconstrued.

The truth, however, is that success is ephemeral in all areas of life. The smell of the new car will fade. The new phone will be replaced — sooner, rather than later — by a more advanced, sleeker, lighter, and better one. Someone younger, stronger, or smarter will eventually come and beat your record.

At a time where my self-defeating behavior was at its highest, my issue was that I chased after the wrong kind of success. Television and mass media would exemplify what the meaning of success was — the new car, the job title, a certain kind of body, etc. — and I would believe in it. This elicited a lot of frustration, resentment, and jealousy because it always felt like I was trying to catch up.

When I became aware of my behavior, I was certain that it was fruitless. If I continued to chase after these false objects of happiness and success, what I would ultimately be doing is running around in circles.

In my honest opinion, life is about moving forward, not ending up where you started.

How to Redefine The Meaning of Success

In order to lead the life that you desire, you must set your own goals and idea of success according to what you want — not what television or your parents want. This is all about you, your life, and idea of success.

1. Ask yourself: What is success?

If I were to define what success is, I would start small. But how do you define it without selling yourself short? As a writer, a feeling of success is being able to draft up something everyday, no matter what day it is. I can write 1000 words of just terrible nonsense, but still be satisfied that I did what I’m supposed to do. To beat myself up because I didn’t write a brilliant post is a false sense of success based on expectations that are not my own.

Plus, it’s not even realistic.

What is success to you? Is it getting up in the mornings and getting to the gym? Is it the To-Do list that you set out for yourself the day before? The purpose of defining your own success is to start living a life based on your own expectations and terms. The actions that bring you joy, a sense of accomplishment, service, and progress are where you should be investing your energy.

2. How do I achieve it?

Chances are, if it makes you happy and requires you to use your skills and effort, then you probably should be doing it everyday. The new phone or car — those are just temporary rewards; they won’t last.

The moment you define what the meaning of success is to you, the only way to achieve it is to take the steps forward in accomplishing your goals or objectives. The moment you stop trying to constantly please others and meet their expectations, only then can you find joy in the things you are already doing — or will start doing.

Really sit down — even write it out if you have to — and define what success is to you. You can create both short-term and long-term goals. My short-term goals consists of writing daily, accomplishing my tasks, and being of service to others. My long-term goals would be finishing my book, building my readership on my blog, and seeing other’s achieve their goals overtime.

Work towards daily success, not only the success that comes at the end of the journey. Do this everyday, and your actions will bring you closer to your ultimate goals.

Don’t Wait

To free yourself from the limitations of what other’s perceive as success is a tremendous opportunity to define life on your own terms. You learn to stop chasing things that simply don’t matter — but at one point you thought they did — and instead, you start to focus on the things that help you differentiate progress versus procrastination.

The fruitless emotions of anger, jealousy, and resentment should play no part in the attainment of your endeavors and the ability to succeed; those are just distractions.

The more you strive to be better than yesterday, the more success you will feel because progress, at times, can be felt. You can feel it in your body when progressing and working hard towards completing a project. You can see it when you reflect back on when you first started, and the leaps that you took to get to where you are today.

Once you remove the veil of what success really means to you, only then can you start achieving it daily and on your own expectations.

Don’t wait to start living like this. You can start today. As a matter of fact, you should start today, because continuously living everyday with expectations that are not of your own is a day that is not truly yours.

How do you define your success? What do you do to achieve it?


What Captures Your Attention Controls Your Life

by Kare Anderson | June 5, 2012

A few years ago, DisneyWorld executives were wondering what most captured the attention of toddlers and infants at their theme park and hotels in Orlando, Florida. So they hired me and a cultural anthropologist to observe them as they passed by all the costumed cast members, animated creatures, twirling rides, sweet-smelling snacks, and colorful toys. But after a couple of hours of close observation, we realized that what most captured the young children’s attention wasn’t Disney-conjured magic. Instead it was their parents’ cell phones, especially when the parents were using them.

Those kids clearly understood what held their parents’ attention — and they wanted it too. Cell phones were enticing action centers of their world as they observed it. When parents were using their phones, they were not paying complete attention to their children.

Giving undivided attention is the first and most basic ingredient in any relationship. It is impossible to communicate, much less bond, with someone who can’t or won’t focus on you. At the same time, we often fail to realize how what we focus on comes to control our thoughts, our actions, and indeed, our very lives.

Whatever we focus upon actually wires our neurons. For example, pessimistic people see setbacks and unhappy events as Personal (It’s worst for me), Pervasive (Everything is now worse) and Permanent (It will always be this way) according to Learned Optimism author Marty Seligman. Yet, with practice, he found that we can learn to focus more attention on the positive possibilities in situations to craft a redemptive narrative of our life story. Consciously changing what you pay attention to can rewire your brain from a negative orientation to a positive one. “Attention shapes the brain,” as Rick Hanson says in Buddha’s Brain.

Because attention is so closely connected to our brain’s basic wiring, it can be difficult to recognize our own patterns of giving attention — patterns we’ve been absorbing since birth. Yet different cultures do allocate attention differently. For instance, psychologist Richard E. Nisbett showed an underwater scene to students in the U.S. and also to East Asians. While the Americans commented on the big fish swimming amongst smaller fish, the East Asians also discussed the overall scene, including plants and rocks. Nisbett concluded that East Asians focus on relationships while Westerners tend to see isolated objects rather than the connections between them.

John Hagel reported on a similar experiment. “A developmental psychologist showed three pictures to children — a cow, a chicken and some grass. He asked children from America which two of the pictures belonged together. Most of them grouped the cow and chicken together because they were both objects in the same category of animals. Chinese children on the other hand tended to group the cow and grass together because ‘cows eat grass’ — they focused on the relationship between two objects rather than the objects themselves.”

Here’s what I take from these two studies: First, that whatever you pay attention to — or not — has a huge effect on how you see the world and feel about it. And second, it’s much easier to see your own attention patterns if you take the time to learn about someone else’s.

As leaders, what you pay attention to not only controls your own brain, but sets the example for your team. Yet as with any scarce resource, you can only intelligently allocate your attention if you know where you’re spending it. Let’s go back to the Disney example. Those parents probably thought they were paying plenty of attention to the different stimuli of DisneyWorld, and to their young children. But their kids’ behavior tells us what they were really spending their attention on: their mobile phones. Most of us have probably been guilty of devoting more attention to our cell phones than we’re aware of — even though it may make those around us irate (such as the boss who sees us emailing during an important client meeting or the spouse who catches us texting during a romantic dinner).

To learn about your own attention patterns, examine someone else’s. Most motivational speakers, self-help writers, therapists and pharmacologists encourage us to focus on “me.” They suggest that we look inward to understand and improve ourselves for a happier, better life. That’s not wrong; it is just incomplete. Instead of just asking, “What most preoccupies me? Does it make the world seem welcoming or withholding?” reach out to someone else. Be the best listener they’ve had in months. This is the first and most basic ingredient in any interaction. Simply gazing steadily and warmly at that person, nodding at times and reiterating what you heard will activate an empathic, mirror-neuron response in both of you.

Giving and receiving undivided attention, even briefly, is the least that one individual can do for another — and sometimes the most. And yet, attending to others doesn’t just help them — it helps us, by evoking responses that help the listener feel cared for, useful, and connected to the larger world. Paying attention may be an individual effort, but it’s also a kind of social cement that holds groups together and helps them feel part of something greater than themselves. It’s not always easy, but you can improve with practice — and find yourself becoming more flexible, more open to new ideas, and better able to resonate with others. Inevitably that leads to a richer, more meaningful life.


Customers Don’t Want More Features

by Donald Reinertsen and Stefan Thomke | June 4, 2012

There is a common myth about product development: the more features we put into a product, the more customers will like it. Product-development teams seem to believe that adding features creates value for customers and subtracting them destroys it. This attitude explains why products are so complicated: Remote controls seem impossible to use, computers take hours to set up, cars have so many switches and knobs that they resemble airplane cockpits, and even the humble toaster now comes with a manual and LCD displays.

Companies that challenge the belief that more is better create products that are elegant in their simplicity. Bang & Olufsen, the Danish manufacturer of audio products, televisions, and telephones, understands that customers don’t necessarily want to fiddle with the equalizer, balance, and other controls to find the optimum combination of settings for listening to music. Its high-end speakers automatically make the adjustments needed to reproduce a song with as much fidelity to the original as possible. All that’s left for users to select is the volume.

Getting companies to buy into and implement the principle that less can be more is hard because it requires extra effort in two areas of product development:

1. Defining the problem. Articulating the problem that developers will try to solve is the most underrated part of the innovation process. Too many companies devote far too little time to it. But this phase is important because it’s where teams develop a clear understanding of what their goals are and generate hypotheses that can be tested and refined through experiments. The quality of a problem statement makes all the difference in a team’s ability to focus on the few features that really matter.

When Walt Disney was planning Disneyland, he didn’t rush to add more features (rides, kinds of food, amount of parking) than other amusement parks had. Rather, he began by asking a much larger question: How could Disneyland provide visitors with a magical customer experience? Surely, the answer didn’t come overnight; it required painstakingly detailed research, constant experimentation, and deep insights into what “magical” meant to Disney and its customers. IDEO and other companies have dedicated phases in which they completely immerse themselves in the context in which the envisioned product or service will be used. Their developers read everything of interest about the markets, observe and interview future users, research offerings that will compete with the new product, and synthesize everything that they have learned into pictures, models, and diagrams. The result is deep insights into customers that are tested, improved, or abandoned throughout the iterative development process.

2. Determining what to hide or omit. Teams are often tempted to show off by producing brilliant technical solutions that amaze their peers and management. But often customers would prefer a product that just works effortlessly. From a customer’s point of view, the best solutions solve a problem in the simplest way and hide the work that developers are so proud of.

One company that has understood this is Apple. It is known for many things—innovative products, stylish designs, and savvy marketing—but perhaps its greatest strength is its ability to get to the heart of a problem. (See “The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs,” by Walter Isaacson, in our April issue.) As the late Steve Jobs once explained, “When you start looking at a problem and it seems really simple, you don’t really understand the complexity of the problem. And your solutions are way too oversimplified. Then you get into the problem, and you see it’s really complicated. And you come up with all these convoluted solutions….That’s where most people stop.” Not Apple. It keeps on plugging away. “The really great person will keep on going,” said Jobs, “and find…the key underlying principle of the problem and come up with a beautiful, elegant solution that works.”

Determining which features to omit is just as important as—and perhaps more important than—figuring out which ones to include. Unfortunately, many companies, in an effort to be innovative, throw in every possible bell and whistle without fully considering important factors such as the value to customers and ease of use. When such companies do omit some planned functionality, it’s typically because they need to cut costs or have fallen behind schedule or because the team has failed in some other way.

Instead, managers should focus on figuring out whether the deletion of any proposed feature might improve a particular product and allow the team to concentrate on things that truly heighten the overall customer experience. This can be determined by treating each alleged requirement as a hypothesis and testing it in small, quick experiments with prospective customers.

Development teams often assume that their products are done when no more features can be added. Perhaps their logic should be the reverse: Products get closer to perfection when no more features can be eliminated. As Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”