You Only Live Once, Do It Warren Buffett’s Way

“You’d get very rich if you thought of yourself as having a card with only twenty punches in a lifetime, and every financial decision used up one punch. You’d resist the temptation to dabble. You’d make more good decisions and you’d make more big decisions.” —Warren Buffett , quoted in The Snowball, by Alice Schroeder

This week, Warren Buffett celebrates his 84th birthday.

Those of you who follow my blogs know I have a bit of a man crush on Buffett, not just because of his investing acumen but because he has always seemed to me endowed with a kind of uber-common sense… an ability to cut to the heart of a situation or an issue and capture it in a few words, understandable to experts and common folk alike.

Lists of his “10-greatest” or “18-greatest” (or however-many-greatest) sayings pop up everywhere in online searches. But the Buffett-ism that’s stayed with me is the one at the top of this blog – namely, the notion of a punch card (a quaintly antiquated thing you don’t run across very often these days).

Buffett used his punch card analogy in an investment context. It’s consistent with his belief that really profitable investment decisions are few and far between. His counsel to individual investors has always been to “wait for the fat pitch.” [See “Bored Investors Beware.”]

But I think the punch card analogy applies equally well to life, and to the decisions that define and shape our lives over the five, six, seven or eight decades most of us are on the earth. For someone graduating from high school, I think the number 20 is just about right. For someone like me, in middle age, the number of un-punched punches on the card is a lot smaller. There might be only two or three left.

The point is, whether it’s two or twenty, the number of inflection points in our lives is a lot smaller than it often seems. The trick is having the wisdom, or the instinct, to recognize “fat pitches” at the time they show up, which is always easier in hindsight. Then we need to make our big decisions count.

Getting married. Having children (or not). Making a career change. Starting or investing in a business. Those are obvious hole punches.

By contrast, the last two times I punched my card it had less to do with me, personally, than it did the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.

The first of these was agreeing to chair Wall Street’s advocacy group – the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association – in the wake of the financial crisis. I did so because I never wanted our clients, the investing public, to have to go through again the trauma and disruption they experienced in their financial and personal lives during that unprecedented and volatile period.

My second recent hole punch was deciding to help lead, in 2011 and 2012, a campaign to defeat a constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage in my home state of Minnesota. I got a lot of advice and counsel against getting involved, as a business leader, in what became known as the “Vote No” campaign. But every bone in my body told me this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of LGBT residents in a state long known for its progressive brand, inclusive culture and values of respect and tolerance.

As it turned out, the support of the business community was critical not only in defeating the amendment, but then, six months later, legalizing same-sex marriage in Minnesota.

That was last year. Just this month, two gay friends who had lived together for 34 years before getting married last year at Minneapolis’ City Hall thanked me, with tears in their eyes, for being able to celebrate their first ever wedding anniversary.

I wish someone had told me about Buffett’s punch card analogy when I was a lot younger. However, I’m glad I have the opportunity to use it now to recognize and lean into the few remaining “big decisions” in my life. I pass it on here as a birthday gift to others – not from me, but from Warren Buffett, who, by the simple arithmetic of his own analogy, has made a big decision once in every four of his 84 years.

John G. Taft is CEO of RBC Wealth Management – U.S., and author of Stewardship: Lessons Learned from the Lost Culture of Wall Street (Wiley, 2012). RBC Wealth Management-U.S. is a division of RBC Capital Markets, LLC, a member of NYSE/FINRA/SIPC.

ARTICLE LINK:

https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140827165018-229992090-you-only-live-once-do-it-warren-buffett-s-way

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You Only Live Once, Do It Warren Buffett’s Way

“You’d get very rich if you thought of yourself as having a card with only twenty punches in a lifetime, and every financial decision used up one punch. You’d resist the temptation to dabble. You’d make more good decisions and you’d make more big decisions.” —Warren Buffett , quoted in The Snowball, by Alice Schroeder

This week, Warren Buffett celebrates his 84th birthday.

Those of you who follow my blogs know I have a bit of a man crush on Buffett, not just because of his investing acumen but because he has always seemed to me endowed with a kind of uber-common sense… an ability to cut to the heart of a situation or an issue and capture it in a few words, understandable to experts and common folk alike.

Lists of his “10-greatest” or “18-greatest” (or however-many-greatest) sayings pop up everywhere in online searches. But the Buffett-ism that’s stayed with me is the one at the top of this blog – namely, the notion of a punch card (a quaintly antiquated thing you don’t run across very often these days).

Buffett used his punch card analogy in an investment context. It’s consistent with his belief that really profitable investment decisions are few and far between. His counsel to individual investors has always been to “wait for the fat pitch.” [See “Bored Investors Beware.”]

But I think the punch card analogy applies equally well to life, and to the decisions that define and shape our lives over the five, six, seven or eight decades most of us are on the earth. For someone graduating from high school, I think the number 20 is just about right. For someone like me, in middle age, the number of un-punched punches on the card is a lot smaller. There might be only two or three left.

The point is, whether it’s two or twenty, the number of inflection points in our lives is a lot smaller than it often seems. The trick is having the wisdom, or the instinct, to recognize “fat pitches” at the time they show up, which is always easier in hindsight. Then we need to make our big decisions count.

Getting married. Having children (or not). Making a career change. Starting or investing in a business. Those are obvious hole punches.

By contrast, the last two times I punched my card it had less to do with me, personally, than it did the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others.

The first of these was agreeing to chair Wall Street’s advocacy group – the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association – in the wake of the financial crisis. I did so because I never wanted our clients, the investing public, to have to go through again the trauma and disruption they experienced in their financial and personal lives during that unprecedented and volatile period.

My second recent hole punch was deciding to help lead, in 2011 and 2012, a campaign to defeat a constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage in my home state of Minnesota. I got a lot of advice and counsel against getting involved, as a business leader, in what became known as the “Vote No” campaign. But every bone in my body told me this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of LGBT residents in a state long known for its progressive brand, inclusive culture and values of respect and tolerance.

As it turned out, the support of the business community was critical not only in defeating the amendment, but then, six months later, legalizing same-sex marriage in Minnesota.

That was last year. Just this month, two gay friends who had lived together for 34 years before getting married last year at Minneapolis’ City Hall thanked me, with tears in their eyes, for being able to celebrate their first ever wedding anniversary.

I wish someone had told me about Buffett’s punch card analogy when I was a lot younger. However, I’m glad I have the opportunity to use it now to recognize and lean into the few remaining “big decisions” in my life. I pass it on here as a birthday gift to others – not from me, but from Warren Buffett, who, by the simple arithmetic of his own analogy, has made a big decision once in every four of his 84 years.

John G. Taft is CEO of RBC Wealth Management – U.S., and author of Stewardship: Lessons Learned from the Lost Culture of Wall Street (Wiley, 2012). RBC Wealth Management-U.S. is a division of RBC Capital Markets, LLC, a member of NYSE/FINRA/SIPC.

ARTICLE LINK:

https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140827165018-229992090-you-only-live-once-do-it-warren-buffett-s-way

Redeem shape!

Unfortunately, staying active is a lifestyle that we as a population have grown out of. But you can regain this commitment by following these five rules.

Break a sweat every day

Challenge yourself every day to participate in a physical activity that causes you to get out of breath or sweat. To change your body, you must train outside of your comfort zone. If you like your body the way it is, then don’t stress it. But if you want to build strength, get a six-pack or lose fat, then work hard.

When exercising, you should not be able to carry on a conversation with your buddy. (Don’t get me started on people reading a magazine on the treadmill.) Next time you’re at the gym:
• Increase your weights
• Hit the incline on your treadmill or run hills
• Add a plyometrics workout
• Combine strength training with various rounds of conditioning; for example, perform a Overhead Shoulder Press, then sprint on a treadmill at nine mph on a six-inch incline for 30 seconds. Rest for 90 seconds and repeat four times.

Go back to grade school

You did it all when you were younger: jumped rope, climbed trees, went bike riding and ran sprints around the playground. You couldn’t sit still long enough to stay at a desk or computer like you do now.
Become more active. Go for a walk or jog in the morning before starting your day. Join a group fitness class, recreational league, swim club, ski or bowling team.

Use what you have

Look around and take a quick inventory of what’s available to exercise with. Do you have a bike, rope, old tires to flip, chains to pull, balls to throw, boxes to jump on or paint cans to carry? If you have some of this stuff and a creative mind, you can put together a great workout. You don’t need a expensive gym membership to look expensive. (Got a rope? Five Reasons to Go Back to Basics With the Jump Rope.)

Eat clean
By eating as clean as you can, you’ll automatically avoid foods loaded with sugar, trans fat, and saturated fat. Eat foods that display a variety of colors more frequently, and keep everything in moderation. Plan time to go to the grocery store so you are not rushed. Also, plan your weekly meals ahead of time. (See What’s Fake and What’s Real? The Ultimate Food Survival Guide andNo, Really—Don’t Shop When You’re Hungry: A Study.)

Rest as hard as you work

There’s a fine line between the amount of work you do and the rest that you allow yourself. Rest can take the form of physical rest, or, for most of us, mental rest. Exercising, deep breathing, and vacations will take care of your mental rest. If you feel physically exhausted, try switching up your workout routine or take a week off. You will come back fresh and ready to do more. (See Why You Shouldn’t Work Out Every Day.)

HIT IT ON!!