“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” ~Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett is perhaps one of the best-known people in business, and has been for many years. Currently the primary shareholder, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, the eighty-two year old is considered by many to be the most successful investor of the 20th Century. Through a lifetime of investments and frugality, he has consistently been ranked as one of the world’s wealthiest people. Today his net worth is $53.5 billion.
Buffett was born in 1930 in Omaha, Nebraska, and even from a young age demonstrated a proficiency and interest in saving and investing money. As a child, he went door-to-door selling commodities like gum, soda, and magazines, later becoming a newspaper delivery boy. By the time he was in high school, he was already making investments and purchasing stock.
In 1947, Warren Buffett began his college studies at the Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania, finishing his business administration degree three years later at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He immediately went on to attend Columbia Business school, graduating with a Master of Science in economics by 1951.
By 1950, Buffett had already saved about $10,000—the equivalent today of about $100,000. He soon formed his own firm, Buffett Partnership, in Omaha. He made his fortune purchasing companies whose stocks were undervalued but that were on their way up.
In the 1960s, Buffet took control of Berkshire Hathaway, a struggling textile manufacturing firm. He eventually sold off all its textile assets and moved the company into the insurance sector. Today, it owns a variety of other well-known companies, such as GEICO, Dairy Queen, Fruit of the Loom, Helzberg Diamonds, and NetJets. Interestingly, Buffett’s annual salaries is incredibly low in comparison to other Wall Street moguls—in 2011, his base salary was just $100,000.
Today, Buffett is known not only for his high status as a businessman and investor, but also for his philanthropic spirit. In 2006, he pledged to gradually give all his Berkshire Hathaway stock to a variety of nonprofit organizations, and in 2010 he made history by pledging to give away 99% of his wealth to charity during his life or at death. He is a founding member of The Giving Pledge, which asks America’s wealthiest to commit 50% or more of their wealth to charity.
Most recently, Warren Buffett wrote an op-ed for Fortune magazine, which focused on the merits of bringing more women into the world of big business. “America has forged this success while utilizing, in large part, only half of the country’s talent. For most of our history, women — whatever their abilities — have been relegated to the sidelines. Only in recent years have we begun to correct that problem,” Buffett writes. He urges both men and women to realize the full set of ethical and economic benefits that would come with adding more women to the big business workforce.