The best advice Bill Gates ever got from Warren Buffett?
It's not to give at least half of your money away, although that's something Gates did pledge to do. It's not to be a patient investor. And it's definitely not to memorize employee license plates to see who is still working; Gates came up with that on his own.
When asked for the best advice Buffett ever gave him, this is how Gates answered:
"One of the most interesting is how he keeps things simple.
"You look at his calendar, it's pretty simple. You talk to him about a case where he thinks a business is attractive, and he knows a few basic numbers and facts about it. And if it gets less complicated, he feels like then it's something he'll choose to invest in.
"He picks the things that he's got a model of, a model that really is predictive and that's going to continue to work over a long-term period.
"And so his ability to boil things down, to just work on the things that really count, to think through the basics... it's so amazing that he can do that. It's a special form of genius."
Maybe a knack for simplifying the seemingly complex is a sign of Buffett's genius.
But I prefer to think of it as Buffett's process -- because that means we can all take a page from the Buffett playbook.
Simplifying -- boiling things down, working on things that really count -- is almost always the best path to success.
Take losing weight: Complicated diets, expensive supplements, "new" workout plans... ultimately, losing weight comes down to burning more calories than you consume. Do that and you will lose weight.
Or building wealth: Create all the spreadsheets and use all the apps you want... but saving money comes down to spending less than you make. Do that and you will save money.
Or launching a business: Operations, infrastructure, policies and procedures. Each is important -- but without sales you don't have a business to optimize. (As Mark Cuban says, "Sales cures all." Of course that's overstating the case a little... but not by a lot.)
If you want to build a business, channel your inner Mortimer Duke and "Sell, sell."
That's true in almost every case: The simple approach is the best approach.
If you're struggling to achieve a goal, take a step back. Determine what really matters. Determine what really drives results.
Then focus -- consistently and relentlessly -- on doing the one or two things that really matter.
If that approach is good enough for Warren Buffett... it's definitely good enough for you and me.