The popular American capitalist, Warren Buffett, has set the standard for many people by reaching the American Dream for most; from the moment young Warren Buffett was born in Omaha, Nebraska, he had always targeted high and worked harder than anyone, to reach those infinite goals.
Many people have different perspectives on what the “American Dream” really means. To some people, being rich, having fame, a happy family, or a healthy lifestyle is what people consider being the American Dream. However, someone like Warren Buffett appears to define the American Dream as having fun with making money rather then the rewarding results that comes from it. Warren Buffett is now in 2011 alternating with Bill Gates as the wealthiest man in the nation.
In many eyes Buffett could be classified as the most ingenious and successful stockbroker who has ever existed. Anyone who had invested $10,000 for Warren Buffett to work with in the year 1957 had collected $150,270 over a thirteen-year interval. To discover and achieve the “American Dream of Success,” you need to have the motivation, intelligence, and opportunity to pursue that goal.
“I always knew I was going to be rich. I don’t think I ever doubted it for a minute,” Warren Buffett stated after proving this throughout his ambitious life that started when he was only six years old. (Warren Buffett Bio.) His story starts from delivering newspapers in Omaha Nebraska, to resting on an empire as the richest man in America. He has shown that anybody can obtain the American Dream in our country.
When Buffett was a child, he would buy six-packs of Coca-Cola for 25 cents and resell the coke bottles for 5 cents each. Any six year old who is able to come up with such an idea, is bound to have excessive potential to become successful. When he turned nine, he began to collect golf balls that he had found in the woods at a local golf course. He then cleaned and sold them for a profit.
Later in the year, Buffett took on a job as a newspaper delivery boy in his area. Between selling the golf balls, the coke bottles, and delivering newspapers, he had acquired a sufficient amount of money to purchase three shares of Cities Service Preferred Oil Company stock at $38 per share at age eleven.
However, Buffett then made his first mistake, which he picked up on later on in his life. He realized that his stock jumped to $40 a share within the next couple of days, so he quickly sold his shares and gained six dollars. Although six dollars is not a huge amount, he had decided to sell and secure his profit. Immediately after Warren Buffett sold his stocks, they shot up from $40 a share to $200, which taught him the value of patience. (Ryan 11-15) At this very early age, Buffett was already chasing the American Dream.
After Buffett’s young success in Omaha, his father, Howard Buffett, was elected to Congress, forcing Warren Buffett and his family to move to Washington D.C. He hated the move and began writing letters to his grandfather who still lived back at home. In return, his grandfather gave him an invitation to live with him in Omaha until he completed the 8th grade. Buffett’s parents approved his decision, and he returned to his hometown of Omaha.
He began to work on weekends for his grandfather Ernest who owned a company called “Buffett and Sons.” Buffett and Sons was a grocery store where Warren learned that having an active business was the key to a successful one. He worked countless hours stocking the shelves in his grandfather’s office. To prove Buffett’s motivation to achieve the American Dream, he was giving up the childhood that most children have at age thirteen.
His definition of having fun was to make sure he could make as much money as possible. (Ryan-13) Strangely, Warren Buffett was never into buying fancy jewelry, expensive cars, or luxurious homes like most people with money. Instead he was constantly motivated to earn money because he found it pleasurable. His idea of the American Dream was different than most.
After completing middle school, Buffett was sent to live with his parents back in Washington. He became an angry kid, rebelling against everyone that came his way and ran away to Hershey, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately for Buffett, he did not get far and returned home.
When he got back, his father spoke to him about his running away and poor school performances and threatened that if he didn’t get back on track with his school work, he would have to stop delivering newspapers. Therefore, due to his moneymaking passion, Buffett did not want to quit delivering papers, and he began to try in school again and got his grades back on track. (Lowenstein-82)
Warren Buffett continued working for several newspapers and was now making 175 dollars a month delivering them throughout Washington D.C. Learning from his research, family, and peers, he then made a sophisticated decision to purchase a farm in Nebraska for 1,200 dollars. “Our favorite holding period is forever,” stated Buffet. He followed by renting out the land on this farm for nearly his entire life. (Warren Buffett Bio.)
Proceeding with his desire to further increase his net worth, Buffett opened up a new business in 1946 placing pin ball machines into barber shops. After having great success, he went out and purchased more pinball machines and began spreading them to all the local barbershops. Soon after, he sold the young business. (Ryan-27-33) His young ambitious attitude towards hard work shaped Buffett’s future and his ability to conquer the American Dream of Success.
Convincing Buffett to attend college was not an easy task for his father. He felt as though he already knew a lot about business and that college would be a waste of time for him. His theory was supported when he decided to attend the Wharton School of Finance.
The professors were stunned at his ingenious entrepreneurial mind. Buffett knew more then many of his professors and transferred to the University of Nebraska for a better education. (Smith-4) Unfortunately, that university was not that much better. He had achieved good grades in all of his classes at the University of Nebraska and managed to administer 50 newspaper delivery boys simultaneously.
After he realized that the University of Nebraska was not helping him much, he decided to drop out and transfer again. He first tried to transfer to Harvard but was not accepted. That decision would later haunt the Harvard administration committee. Warren Buffett then applied to Columbia University and was accepted in 1950. This was an experience that would forever change his life, and direct him on the right road to reach the American Dream of Success. (Ryan-37)
One of the most successful and intelligent investors, along with Warren Buffett, was a professor at Columbia named Ben Graham. He viewed the stock market in ways that nobody would ever imagine. Through bear markets and bull markets, no matter what the circumstances were, Ben Graham was making money. Ben Graham wrote a book called The Intelligent Investor, which Buffett refers to as “the greatest book on investing ever written.”(Kennon-2)
Through his inspiring principals on investment, Graham became an idol to the young Warren Buffett. After all of the hard work and effort he put into his time at college, Ben Graham began seeing great potential in the 21 year old. Warren Buffett was one of the few to graduate from Columbia with an A plus average. After he had graduated, Buffett returned back to his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska.
His father offered him a job in his stock brokerage firm, which he accepted for a good amount of time. However, each day he worked he was thinking about his mentor at Columbia, Ben Graham. Buffett decided to work for him and build up his career. When learning that Graham was working for a small insurance company known as GEICO, he took the next train to their main headquarters located in Washington D.C. After coming in contact with Graham, he asked for a job offer.
Unfortunately he was declined. Still motivated and determined to get this job, he asked Graham again; only this time offering to work for free. Once again refusing Buffett’s offer, he sent him back to Omaha where he continued working for his father’s firm. (Carr-3) After two years of working for his father, Buffett received a phone call from Ben Graham offering him an internship to work with him at GEICO insurance company. Without hesitation, he accepted his offer realizing how fortunate he was by receiving such a great opportunity to help him achieve his childhood dream.
This was a choice that was cherished for the rest of his life. Warren Buffett received more knowledge in that short internship for Ben Graham then he had ever received before. (Kennon-2) After returning back to Nebraska, Buffett began his first partnership firm, Buffett Associates, LTD. This was a stock brokerage firm that he controlled from his bedroom. Although he was a great speaker, that did not satisfy him. He wanted to be magnificent, and would do anything to make that happen.
When Buffett proceeded with the creation of his company, he began to take a public speaking class to help him improve persuading people to participate in investing with him. He was asked to teach the class about investing, so he used the skills that he had learned. “It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price,” he announced. (Warren Buffett Bio.) He taught this class at the age of twenty-one, to students who were double his age.
After engaging the class with a few of his tips, Buffett began to attract some clients. While most first year investors were having percentage increases ranging from seven to ten percent, Buffett was obtaining over a thirty percent increase in his investments each year. Due to these statistics, his clients gained his trust and more clients were coming to invest their money with this new young investor. (Lowenstein-12) Warren Buffett was enlisted as a millionaire and was becoming popular by 1962.
His company was worth 7.2 million dollars. In the eyes of the people around the nation, Buffett would be classified as an icon relating to the American Dream; however his iconic life had just begun. (Smith-2)
A brilliant lawyer named Charlie Munger, moved from California, to Omaha. Buffett had been friends with him ever since they had begun talking on the telephone and helping each other with business tips. They eventually became business partners, and it remained that way throughout Buffett’s career. Munger was notorious for showing Buffett that looking for stocks should be a quality business, and he should not be too concerned with the expensive prices enlisted per share. (Ryan-57)
Throughout their partnership, Buffett had been keeping a close eye on a business called Berkshire Hathaway. He noticed that this company was about to increase in value. Therefore, Buffett decided to buy forty-nine percent of the company, which gave him control of that company. (Smith-3) Warren Buffett was constantly a firm believer in purchasing a high percentage of companies, rather then buying a small portion. When he would buy enough shares to control a company, he would keep the same management and employees.
He believed that if the company was brought to his attention and ran smoothly, then why should he interfere with operations? Warren Buffett is known for his company, Berkshire Hathaway. This was an important investment in his life that paved the road towards reaching the American Dream of Success. Although he focused a lot of his time on Berkshire Hathaway, he still realized that there were many great companies that he would like to invest in. (Carr-2) Now that Buffett had control of Berkshire Hathaway, he spent the company’s money and purchased many other businesses.
Throughout the next ten years, Buffett and his business bought into Walt Disney Productions, and GEICO. Over those ten years, the value of Berkshire Hathaway increased by a total of forty-four million dollars. (Lowenstein-242) Just like that, during Buffett’s ten years with the company “Buffet Partnerships, LTD,” had increase one thousand, one hundred and fifty-six percent, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average had only went up one hundred and twenty-two point nine percent.
Thirty-five year old Warren Buffett was now worth approximately seven million dollars. Even more astonishing, was the fact that there were no secrets or inside deals to Warren Buffett’s success. He simply had the morale and motivation given to him by a few mentors in his life that helped him along the way. It seems almost unrealistic that only few had picked up on this guaranteed way to earn millions and achieve the American Dream of Success. (Lowenstein-244)
At this point, many people would feel that they had already reached the American Dream, and would retire and live a glamorous life. On the other hand, there are few such as Warren Buffett who had never been satisfied enough to retire and were always hungry for more. He proceeded to search for great quality businesses that would feed his hunger. Buffett received a message from an old friend retrieving information about a company called See’s Candy Shops. This company was selling for thirty million dollars.
Buffett was interested so he did his research. He found all of the See’s Candy Shops nearby, and noticed that people could not live without them. Realizing how successful the business was, he made an offer of twenty-five million dollars to purchase the company, and See’s accepted it. (Warren Buffet Salem H.)
This had been one of his biggest investments, and he did not consider it as a regret. Moving forward with his life, Warren Buffett kept investing his money into larger companies. Unfortunately, his beloved mentor, Ben Graham, had passed away and as a result; GEICO had come close to bankruptcy. Helping out an old friend’s company and benefiting himself, he purchased GEICO for a bargain and brought it right back around to where it had been. (Warren Buffett Salem H.)
“The best thing I did was to choose the right heroes. It all comes from Graham,” wrote Warren Buffett in his letter written to his shareholders. (#2 Warren Buffett) Ben Graham did have a great impact on his life, and Buffett turned out to be the successful businessman he is today because of that influence. He was listed in Forbes Magazine as a billionaire in 1985. Although he was worth billions, he never let money get to his head and continued to live in the small house he purchased in Omaha, Nebraska.
Till this day, when any of his children borrow money, he has them pay it back to help them understand the value of a dollar. In 2004, he found himself with a net worth of 42.9 billion dollars. (#2 Warren Buffet) Not only is Warren Buffett acknowledged as the richest man across the nation, he proved to America that anyone can achieve the American Dream of Success with a little motivation, intelligence, and opportunity.
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Lowenstein, Roger. Buffett: the Making of an American Capitalist. New York: Random House, 1995. Print. Ryan, Bernard. Warren Buffett Financer. New York, 2006. Print. Facts On File.
Smith, Lisa. "Warren Buffett: The Road To Riches." Investopedia.com - Your Source For Investing Education. 2 May 2010. Web. 16 Feb. 2011. .
"Warren Buffett Biography." Biography.com. Web. 16 Feb. 2011. .
"Warren Buffett." Salem History. Web. 14 Jan. 2011. .