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Warren Buffett
AP Photo/Nati Harnik
Even if you don’t have millions at your disposal, you can still benefit from Buffett’s wisdom.
ORACLE OF OMAHA

A fan paid $3 million for a lunch with Warren Buffett—but you can get his best advice for free

Sarah Todd
By Sarah Todd

Senior reporter, Quartz and Quartz at Work

Warren Buffett is a very popular guy—so much so that one fan just ponied up $3.3 million for a chance to break bread with the acclaimed Berkshire Hathaway chairman.

Each year, Buffett volunteers to have lunch with the winner of a charity auction for the San Francisco-based organization Glide, which works to help the homeless. The Wall Street Journal notes that the going price for a meal with the billionaire investor and philanthropist, known as the “Oracle of Omaha,” has consistently stayed above $1 million since 2008.

That’s a lot of money to plunk down in exchange for an intimate session with the 87-year-old. But plenty of people seem to think it’s a sound investment—particularly past bidder Ted Weschler, who earned a spot as a portfolio manager at Berkshire Hathaway after twice winning the Glide auction.

But even if you don’t have millions at your disposal, you can still benefit from Buffett’s wisdom—gratis. Here’s some of the best advice he’s passed on over the years.

Pay attention to the company you keep

Back in 2004, a 14-year-old asked Buffett what young people can do to set themselves up for success down the line.

“It’s better to hang out with people better than you,” Buffett said. “Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.”

Buffett had backup from his vice chairman Charlie Munger, who added, ”If this gives you a little temporary unpopularity with your peer group, the hell with ’em.”

Protect your time

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything,” Buffett famously advised. That’s because saying “no” allows you to focus on the things that are most important to you, while filtering out the busywork.

If you’re the kind of person who has trouble turning others down, The New York Times’ Kristin Wong has some helpful advice: instead of saying “I can’t,” which seems to leave room for negotiation, simply say, “I don’t.”

Read like the wind

Buffett reportedly spends 80% of a typical day reading. “Read 500 pages like this every day,” he once advised students on how to build a career in investing, gesturing to a stack of papers. “That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”

Don’t try to speed-read—science shows it doesn’t really work. Instead, take steps to incorporate time dedicated to reading into your daily routine, and consider setting a daily reading goal.

Get a hobby

He may be worth over $82 billion, but Buffett still makes time for fun. He plays an estimated 12 hours of bridge per week and plays the ukulele—even going so far as to join his son, a professional musician, on the road. Taking up a hobby can do wonders for helping you to connect with your friends and family, too. Buffett’s son, Peter, told NPR, “It really is wonderful that, first of all, he’s so enthusiastic and up for doing it, and that we can do something like this together. Because I’ll tell you, I’m not going to be sitting at Berkshire going through actuary tables with insurance. So if we’re going to do something together, it’s going to be musical.”

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