Who would you bet on?

Warren Buffett gave a talk to a group of MBA students at the University of Florida in 2007.  The video is at the bottom of this post (on the blog). He starts with an interesting question.

He says [2:30] “Think for a moment that I granted you the right to buy 10% of the future income of any one of your classmates for the rest of his or her lifetime. You can’t pick one with a rich father, that doesn’t count. You got to pick someone who is going to do it on their own merit.  Which one are you going to pick?”

Imagine 100 of your colleagues, family, friends.  Who would you choose?  Are there two or three faces that come to mind?  Maybe if you are lucky with your friends, 10 or 15 jump into your mind.  But, you have to choose one.

Warren suggests that there are various methods to do the final selection.  Would you use school or university grades?  GMAT?  Most likely not.  These are not great indicators of success in life.

If not grades then what?  How about your best friend?  Set up a pact – “I’ll choose you if you choose me”.  A good plan?  I don’t think so.

So, if grades aren’t the criteria; If friendship isn’t the criteria; then what should be your criteria for selecting the person to place your bet on?

Warren says that he has 3 criteria:

  1. Integrity – coherence between values and words, words and actions; responds well in bad times as well as the easy times.
  2. Energy – gets up every day and starts moving.
  3. Intelligence – here, Warren clarifies that he is not looking for grand strategic planning type intelligence; not for chess type intelligence – but for a type of course correction intelligence that allows for small course corrections that mean that instead of running headlong into a brick wall, there is enough intelligence to change course and only receive a glancing blow to the shoulder.

 A good basis for selection?  Do you know who you would bet on?  Would it be yourself?  You already own 100% of your own future income…  are you a good bet?  In a future blog I will give three ideas to improve your energy, intelligence and ability to live your values.  Interested?

Author: Conor Neill

Hi, I’m Conor Neill, an Entrepreneur and Teacher at IESE Business School. I speak about Moving People to Action.

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