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Warren Buffet’s Single Piece of Wisdom

A bigg salute to Josh Whitford, who writes the Unconventional Marketing blog, for inspiring today’s post.

Josh read the The 4-Hour Workweek, written by Tim Ferriss, and decided to accept the challenge to contact a famous person. Josh chose Warren Buffett.

He wrote a letter to Buffett asking him for “his single piece of wisdom” and sent it along with a self-addressed, stamped postcard. To Josh’s surprise, the Oracle of Omaha responded a couple of weeks later. Buffett simply said,

“Read, read, read.”

A typical Buffett answer – short and to the point!

It’s interesting advice because a poll by the Associated Press – Ipsos showed that one in four Americans hasn’t read a single book in the last year. At least, that’s how the news reported it – we look at that and see that three out of four Americans did read a book last year!

In fact, the last Gallup poll that we saw on this subject showed that over half of all Americans have read more than 5 books in the last year!

Read, read, read … for the sake of your career (and finances)

We hear about the “haves” and the “have nots”. A study by the National Endowment for the Arts [pdf] showed the impact of reading on a person’s well-being – reading less leads to lower reading proficiency which leads to fewer (and lower quality) career opportunities.

For example, according to the study, “Proficient Readers” are 2.5 times more likely than “Basic Readers” to earn at least $850 each week. This study also showed that 44% of Basic Readers lack a full- or part-time job, two times the percentage of Proficient Readers.

So, Warren Buffett said it well … read, read, read.

Read, read, read … to expand your imagination

"When I was young … okay I’d like to think I’m still young … so when I was younger, I used to just read non-fiction, and specifically books on business and investing. Then I took a literature class with a phenomenal professor – a short-story class. It made me use my imagination in a way I didn’t do when I just read books that I thought were more practical."

And as Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is more important than intelligence.”

What’s nice about reading, rather than watching, is that you are the director. You create a vision of the story – the characters, the setting. 


"Just think about how many times you’ve read a book that gets turned into a movie. So you get all excited and go see the movie … and it’s not as good as the book! For me, a great example is Stephen King’s book, It. I scared myself more reading that book than watching the movie!"

It’s much more interactive mentally and the skills carry over to your professional life. 

A simple commitment to reading that’s worked better than a college degree
We have a friend who worked his way up in a small business. In fact, he ended up buying the business from the owner. After he bought it, he wished he would have gotten a college degree. But he didn’t have the time – he had a business to run!

So he made a commitment to himself – to read one business book every week. He reads the best sellers and he talks to friends for recommendations. He has that done for years now. He knows more about business than just about anybody we know.

Do-it-yourself knowledge … that’s what Warren Buffett is talking about.

What are you reading? 

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The Power of Imagination

J.K. Rowling, best known as the author of the Harry Potter series, recently delivered an exceptional speech for the Commencement Ceremony at Harvard University.

It’s an amazing discussion of the power of failure and imagination. It’s definitely worth your time to read the full text, or watch the video. She said,

“We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we
need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.”

Each of us has the power within us to change the world. Do you doubt it?

Steve Jobs didn’t doubt it.
He imagined a world where every person could have the same computing power that only large organizations had at that point. He dreamed of a world where computers were so user-friendly everybody could use them.

John F. Kennedy didn’t doubt it.
He had the vision that man could walk on the moon. He set forth his vision with the power of words to direct an entire country’s resources toward that mission. A short time later, Neil Armstrong uttered his famous words, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Martin Luther King didn’t doubt it.

He had a dream that people would be judged solely by the contributions they made to society, not by the color of their skin. His dream led to a movement to bring equal opportunity to all.

You may say that you don’t have …

… the imagination of JK Rowling. To create a world that can inspire millions of young people to read again at a time when everyone thought that only video games could attract them.

 … the creativity of Steve Jobs. To see the possibilities for individuals to have access to technology at their fingertips.

… the vision of John F. Kennedy. To see the impossible as possible and to inspire an entire nation to get behind the effort.

… the oratory skills of Martin Luther King. To put the need for change front and center on the agenda of his country and to move people to effect that change.

The unique power within you.
You do have the power to imagine a better world and make a difference in your own life and the life of others. Your imagination flows from your unique genetic make-up and your personal experiences.

No one else – who has ever walked on this earth, is here now, or ever will be – can duplicate what you have and who you are. You are one of a kind!

It’s up to you to live up to the potential that is within you … just imagine! How will you leave the world a better place? What are you doing now to make a difference in the lives of others?



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