I had two hours with Warren Buffett back in 2008. I had been dispatched to Omaha to interview the oracle by his great friend Don Keough, former head of Coca Cola.
Don was writing his autobiography, ("Ten Commandments for Business Failure") which was later a New York Times bestseller, and he asked me to help with the introduction to the book from Buffett.
So off I went to Omaha and downtown to the utterly anonymous office building where Buffett works.
I had expected a significant security presence, but it was clear that while there was some, Buffett lived life on his own terms, which meant retaining his anonymity at a minimum of fuss.
Upstairs in his office suite it could have been any accountant’s office, nothing flashy or indicating the greatest financial genius of the age.
I was ushered in to the great man’s presence soon after.
What struck me right away was his modest manner and his incredibly clean desk. No teletypes chattering, no Bloomberg TV blaring, no stock market updates, just a telephone and Warren Buffett.
It made sense; he was never a creature of the markets, rather a man who analyzed in private with few distractions, unimpressed with the daily storm and drag of the markets.
Like all great interviewees, he had put aside the time for me and nothing else mattered for that period.
Because it was for his great friend, Don Keough, he had put aside two hours.
We sat, me on a couch, him on a chair, in his modest office and chatted as if we had all the time in the world.
He was quick, funny, and clearly loved the topic matter, Don Keough.
He reminisced about the old days in Omaha when he was a struggling stock picker and the man across the road, Don Keough, was just starting with Coca Cola.
He was lively, animated and curious, fun to be with.
A measure of Buffet’s modesty is that he still lives in that house across the road from the old Keough residence.
After two hours we were done and he could not have been more courteous or kind. I am sorry to hear that he has early prostate cancer and I’m sure he’ll beat it.
He is truly one of the good guys.
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