In a few hours, Warren Buffett will take the stage at the annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting.

Investors across the country will turn their attention to the oracle of Omaha, seeking his sage advice and perspective on almost every bit of business strategy.

Will he buy an airline? Is he going in deep on Amazon? Has he changed his mind on bitcoin?

In a pre-meeting interview that he gave with the Financial Times last week, however Buffett offered something else: a very short insight into what he thinks has made the greatest success in his life possible.

As you might imagine, he says it's not about money. Granted, it's easy for the richest people to say that, but Buffett insists it's precisely because he's so wealthy that could literally go anywhere on the planet at any time if he wanted to.

But he doesn't. He largely stays home. And it's because there's something else there that is far more important to him. As he summarized: 

I can't buy time, I can't buy love but I can do anything else with money, pretty much. And why do I get up every day and jump out of bed and I'm excited at 88? It's because I love what I do and love the people I do it with. I've got 25 people out here. We go to baseball games together. They try and make my life good, I try and make their life good.

Those 13 words that I've emphasized are the key, and it's a sentiment that Buffett has expressed a number of times before. It truly is all about love. 

In fact, Bill Gates says that when Buffett put the idea to him, it changed his life. As Gates's wrote in his year end blog post for 2018:

Today of course I still assess the quality of my work. But I also ask myself a whole other set of questions about my life. Did I devote enough time to my family? Did I learn enough new things? Did I develop new friendships and deepen old ones? These would have been laughable to me when I was 25, but as I get older, they are much more meaningful.

Melinda has helped broaden my thinking on this point. So has Warren Buffett, who says his measure of success is, "Do the people you care about love you back?" I think that is about as good a metric as you will find.

And although I'm not sure if they've ever even met, I realized earlier this year that it's also the key to Tom Brady's success.

After Brady and the Patriots won the Super Bowl this year, we had an unusual moment in which Brady's on-the-field emotional comments to his fellow players, and even his opponents, were picked up by the microphones.

  • "Love you, man. Love you," he yelled out to Brandin Cooks of the Los Angeles Rams.
  • "I love you, dude. I love you, dude," he was heard saying to Patriots receiver Julian Edelman.

It went on like that.

It always does. Years ago I wrote a book about West Point, and the word I kept hearing over and over -- the one I didn't expect -- was "love."

I remember one Army captain who had been sent to Iraq and Afghanistan so many times I can't even remember, straining his family, telling me that every time he thought of getting out, he thought of his soldiers. And he loved them too much to leave.

So, eyes on Omaha today. To answer the big three questions we started with, my totally wild guess is that Buffett will buy either Southwest or Delta, that he'll go deep on Amazon, and that he's still a skeptic of bitcoin.

But listen to the more important advice too. Sometimes when you hear it enough, from enough successful people that command respect, it rings truest.

It's not about money. It's not about success. Ultimately, it's all about the love.    
 

Published on: May 4, 2019
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