“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago” – Warren Buffett
A few years ago, I googled the richest men on the planet. A few names popped up: Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Carlos Slim etc.
The whopping huge figures of net worth made me momentarily lose control of my jaw which hung loosely and dropped. Accompanied by the widening of my eyes and stares of bewilderment. Topped off by intermittent shakes of my head in disbelief as I glanced through their bio.
After I recovered from my stupor, I read deeper into their profiles, and was particularly struck by the Sage of Omaha – Warren Buffett.
Then I asked myself: beneath all that WEALTH (I had to use caps to reiterate the massive amount), what really separated an average person from a successful, rich and accomplished investor like him?
Of course there could be a variety of reasons to explain that, including the person’s intelligence, values and belief towards wealth in general, influences from one’s family and friends etc.
However, there was probably one compelling reason that stood out for me – the mindset of the investor, the power of the person’s mind.
When Warren Buffett was a teenager, he used to earn money through various methods, including delivering newspapers on his bicycle etc.
But what really struck and resonated with me were his abilities in these two areas:
1) Seize opportunities
Young Mr Buffett noticed long queues in the barber shops in his neighbourhood, where eager patrons will wait in turn to finally get their hair cut.
He amassed enough money to buy a pinball machine and negotiated with the barber owner to let him place the machine there. Waiting patrons had to insert coins to play the machine while waiting for their haircuts.
He saw an opportunity to make money off waiting patrons and provide them with some entertainment, and seized it. Furthermore, he didn’t even have to be physically there at the shop to operate the machine.
BUT.. yes a big BUT, that wasn’t all.
2) Appreciate the concept of delayed gratification
Most youngsters would be happy with the revenue earned from the pinball machine, and celebrate it with whatever that gratifies them and makes them happy, like buying a bike or getting a good meal.
However, Mr Buffett took the earnings from the pinball machine, bought another machine, and placed it in another barbershop.
Instead of squandering the money on expenses, he bought another asset in the form of another pinball machine to earn extra money.
Yes, perhaps he could have bought something with the earnings from one machine that he really wanted, perhaps a bicycle? But he chose to buy another pinball machine instead. With two machines, he could earn higher revenues and get himself not one, but perhaps 2 bicycles in the near future.
Lessons I learnt:
1) if an opportunity arises, I have to seize it. It may not come around again and someone else might take it. Someone, somewhere out there, will do it and achieve success. Why not me? Every dog has his day..so should I!
2) I need not live in luxury or buy all the things desired right now.
Instead, I should continuously remind myself to grow my net worth instead, and experience some of the things that I want slightly later when I already have much more wealth.
Delayed gratification. Its not about denying oneself the things desired but merely delaying it. It’s somewhat similar to waiting patiently for a sale before charging into the shop to buy the item at a discounted price perhaps?
Seize the Day, Think Ahead!