Wisdom from Warren

May 4, 2024

This year’s Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting certainly had a different feel to it without the presence of Charlie Munger (who passed away in December 2023 at the age of 99). Despite Charlie’s absence, Warren (along with his deemed successor Greg Abel and Ajit Jain (head on insurance operations)) took the stage for several hours of shareholder Q&A.

As always, I watched the meeting in its entirety. While at times the questions (and the answers) were meandering and lengthy, there are always countless takeaways and lessons learned. Here are six things I made note of during the day! (And if you listened to it, let me know what your favorite moments were)

Don’t wait to be happy – many of the questions centered around Charlie’s death and the idea of mortality. This was to be expected as his absence loomed large (Warren even called Greg Abel Charlie by accident) . One shareholder asked what Warren would do with Charlie if they had one more day together. His answer – we already had that “one more day” for years – saying they’d likely just do the same thing they were always doing. “We always lived in a way where we were happy with what we were doing every day” Simple words but sound advice. Don’t wait until its too late, or wish for one more day. Live the life you love now

Trust above all else – Warren brought up Charlie quite a few times and one thread running thru those memories was trust. He talked about how Charlie had never once told him a lie – or even slightly obscured the truth to get his way. He also emphasized how important it was to have a circle of trust around you – If you don’t live a life where you surround yourself (and limit yourself) to people you trust, it won’t be much fun

Warren also reflected on the trust shareholders place in him when asked about whether he would change how much time he spent at work vs. at home. He said simply, I enjoy managing money for people who trust me…I like the feeling of being trusted (This is a statement I can relate to!)

Look for heroes in the right places – a question was asked about the role of heroes in our lives and Warren took the opportunity to share some very poignant thoughts about who you choose to surround yourself with as you age. “Have the right heroes, not based on what they’ve accomplished. It’s the people that you want to be yourself. Copy the right people and you’re off to a great start..not a great start making money but a great start about living life” He talked about all the famous people both him and Charlie had met but in the end, they had the most respect for each other and their families.

Hope for the best, plan for the worst – With the release of Berkshire’s results earlier in the morning, it was revealed that Berkshire continues to hold an incredible amount of cash and treasury bills, totaling $182 billion at quarter end. While Warren had his usual comments about the power of the US economy and his general optimism for the future, he somewhat deflected questions asking about how the cash would be deployed and didn’t seem one bit troubled by the stockpile. I don’t mind at all under current condition building the cash position. When I look at the alternatives, what’s available in equity markets and the composition of what’s going on in the world, we find it quite attractive. While the amount is out of comprehension for many of us investors, the concept is one we be mindful of

Buy great businesses at average prices (not average businesses at great prices) – Warren cites this learning from Charlie all the time. This was the major pivot in Berkshire’s history, moving Warren off the pure value priced names (cigar butts as he called them) to buying businesses that, while perhaps a bit “expensive” were exceptional. Warren highlighted three such companies (Coca Cola, American Express, and Apple). We own American Express which is a wonderful business, we own Coca Cola which is a wonderful business, and we own Apple which is an even better business. When talking about Apple, Warren always comes back to how the product (re the iPhone) – I have no idea how it works but I know what it means to people. I think I know enough about consumer behavior to know that this is one of the great products, maybe the greatest product of all time. I often come back to this guidepost of Berkshire’s investing when making my own capital allocation decisions

Pay it Forward – A few questions about estate planning and Warren’s own trust instructions were brought up during the meeting. Warren reminded the audience about the importance of having a will/estate plan in place (reminded them even if they don’t have a will, they have a will (set by the government when you pass via probate). Upon reflection on the question, he also made it clear that he believes strongly he (and many others in the room) are beneficiaries of incredible luck (being born in America, being born a male at a time when women didn’t have equal rights, etc). And reminded the room to pay that forward – If you are lucky in life, make sure a lot of other people are lucky too

Warren ended the day by saying he hoped to see everyone back next year – and added that he hoped they’d see him back next year as well. Let’s hope so, for this day will be much different without Warren.

Another year of lessons and laughs with one of the greatest investors (and Americans) of our time. Hope you enjoyed the summary of my favorite moments and again, if you watched it, let me know yours.

Onward we go,

Leave a note



Not sure what step to take next?  No problem -send us a message using this form and we'll be in touch soon to figure it out - together

Reach out

Hope to hear from or see you soon. In the meantime, travel on!


Your message has been sent. We'll be in touch shortly.

Thank you.

Follow us on Instagram