Going to a Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Meeting has been on my bucket list ever since I read Lowenstein’s Buffett years ago. My wonderful wife gave me the trip to Omaha this year for my 40th birthday. Yes, she thinks I’m a geek.
Here are seven reasons everyone in the Silicon Valley should go at least once:
- You are exposed to very different types of people. The meeting attracts more than 40,000 people to Omaha from all over America and the World. What you learn about different types of people will be helpful to your job in the Silicon Valley.
- Omaha is not the Silicon Valley. A great way to build perspective and empathy is to see different places. Omaha has lots of big and little things that will surprise you.
- The event is itself is electrifying. From getting up early to the massive line at the door it feels like a mega sports event or concert. Yes, you can get the content online but you can’t get the energy to internalize the knowledge as viscerally.
- The variety of BH companies is remarkable. If seeing the breadth of companies and business models doesn’t blow your mind I don’t know what will. A fantastic reminder that there are more great deals to be done than capital or time available. It is worth calling out that several BH companies’ products are not good for individual human health which is a whole different post.
- Warren and Charlie are incredibly hale and hearty. Their quick wit, remarkable consistency, and self-awareness are incredibly inspiring. Frankly, seeing them in person made me want to check their driver’s licenses to ensure they were really 87 and 94 years old!
- Charlie has a special way with words. I have never heard someone so pithy, insightful, and hilarious as Charlie Munger. Hearing the crowd reactions makes his oneliners all the more enjoyable. #ZFG
- The meeting is the tip of the iceberg. While the meeting is the main event there are many other great things to do like running the Sunday 5K, visiting the Strategic Air Command Museum, and eating some amazing steak.
On top of all of the above great reasons to go, you will also get some amazing insights that will push your own thinking. Here are my top 3:
- Investing in Apple was not a tech investment to Warren. He built conviction based on the value of the brand, consumer satisfaction with Apple products, and the capabilities of the management team (including capital allocation).
- US and China are deeply interdependent. He convincingly explained why there might be short-term foolish behavior but long-term stability. His perspective also helped me realize that I am underinvested in China (investment ideas welcomed).
- A clear rationale for being a bitcoin bear. Admittedly, Warren and Charlie are being disparaging to the point of sanctimoniousness. I found their perspective that cryptocurrencies are a non-productive asset as great food for thought. It is wonderfully consistent with their rationale on not investing in gold and the value investing framework they use.
My only regret from the weekend was not getting a selfie with Warren or Charlie!