Keeping America Great

by Ryan

I recently watched a CNBC special titled: Keeping America Great in which Warren Buffet and Bill Gates were asked questions by students at the Columbia business school.  It was a very informative special that highlighted their optimism of the American economy and capitalism in general.

Below I’ve highlighted some of the questions and answers I found interesting. If you’d like to watch the special yourself, you can do so on Hulu for free.

Some of the things that really stood out for me include:

  • Buffet’s and Gates’ optimism and belief that the American economic system works completely.
  • Greed will always be around and although it may have magnified out current situation, there will always be cycles and greed.  Equality in the system allows us all to enjoy the fruits of our labor.
  • Buffet wholeheartely praised Washington for their role in the recovery of the economy, especially after the fall of Lehman.
  • When asked which industry will produce the next Bill Gates, he responded by saying IT, Energy, or Medicene.
  • The thing that keeps Gates up most at night is considering our current education system which is falling behind compared to other countries.  This is the foundation of our country.
  • When asked about the current rally Buffet reminded us to evaluate businesses directly and have a long term outlook.  However he also stated that if you wait to see the Robin, spring will already be over.
  • Gates responded to the question of “What’s the most important thing you do everyday” by simply replying… Learning.
  • Buffet admired Gate’s view on wealth and that all people are created equal and should be treated so, while Gate’s admired Buffet’s desire to continually teach others.
  • When asked which industry they would enter after college they both replied that you should follow your passion and do whatever you’d be doing for free anyways.
  • What qualities made them stand out from the crowd?  The ability to seize opportunity when it presented itself.  For Gates this was dropping out of college to start Microsoft and for Buffet it was creating his own partnership rather than going to Wall Street.

I truly enjoyed the optimism and outlook the two brought to the town hall style meeting and hope that their predictions will remain true for years to come.

You can find the link to Keeping America Great here.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Kevin January 13, 2010 at 9:53 am

The idea that we should do what we would do for free is crap in my opinion. It’s a good idea and a happy concept, but it shouldn’t be a blanket statement… From Gates and Buffett, I would like to see something more indepth when somebody asks career advice.

I think you have to find the best combination of the following:
1. Something you like
2. Something you can make money doing
3. Something you’re decent at

For example, I am very good at watching TV but I can’t make money doing it. Or, I love baseball and I can make a killing playing baseball, but compared to the pros, I suck at it.

Of course, we would all love to do what we want to do for a living. If we all did that though, nobody would pick up my garbage twice a week. There’s gotta be a balance….

Anyways… take care :)

Ryan January 13, 2010 at 1:39 pm

@ Kevin – Maybe we should flip the idea and do what we dislike the least?

I see where you’re coming from and it’s a good point. There are going to be winners and losers in any system. The winners – those who are able to follow their passions – I believe are the ones that work hardest towards their goals and are most persistent. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

I also don’t agree that there is one particular passion for each person. It’s a bit like the idea of a soul mate, which I find to be garbage. I think, rather, that we have things that we enjoy more than other things, but there is no “perfect” job, business, or person in the world.

I wonder, however, if there’s any garbage man out there that thinks he has the best job in the world…

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