There’s a blog post I’ve liked for a long time now. It’s from a guy who sent a postcard to Warren Buffett, asking for a piece of wisdom to someone who Warren had never met.
The reply on the postcard was “read, read, read”.
I’ve always liked this answer. And now I like it more.
Bob Rodriguez is CEO of First Pacific Advisors, and is a ridiculously successful investor. In 1974 he asked Charlie Munger (Buffet’s business partner) what would make him a better investor.
“In the fall of 1974 I was in graduate school at USC taking a portfolio-management investment course. The financial markets were in difficulty, and I didn’t understand how securities were being sold at such depressed levels. I had only recently discovered Security Analysis by Graham and Dodd when we had a guest lecturer come in named Charlie Munger, who went on about this idea of value investing. After the class was over, I walked up to Charlie and asked him if there was one thing that I could do that would make me a better investment professional. His answer was, ‘Read history, read history, read history.’ And so I became a good historian, reading both economic and financial history as well as general history.
“What I learned is that people relate to the crises they have experienced. So when the crisis of 2008 came, it felt like an old friend to me because it had so many similarities to the banking crisis of 1907. Asking Charlie’s advice and then reading history allowed me to put those things in context.”
And 34 years later, in 2008, Buffet tells some random guy to “read, read, read”. He didn’t use the words “read everything you can” or “be sure to read lots of books” or “get off my damn lawn”. It was “read, read, read”.
Makes me happy.
Bonus image from reddit the other day, titled “The Issue In A Nutshell”