50 Shades of Warren Buffet or Next Year In Omaha

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I am about to embark on my 11th annual trip to Warren Buffett’s Omaha. This year I have something unique to share with you: an excerpt from a chapter I contributed to a brand new book, The Warren Buffett Shareholder. Let me tell you a little bit how this chapter came about.

In the early 2000s I taught graduate investment classes at the University of Colorado. As a class assignment I had students do presentations on Warren Buffett’s annual letters to his shareholders. We broke up 30-some years of Buffett letters into six time periods and divided the class into six groups. Each group had to present the most important lessons they learned from Buffett’s letters.

The day of presentations was not my finest moment as a teacher. It started out great, but soon all the presentations started to sound the same. Here is why: Buffett’s letters are full of wisdom, and each letter has a new insight or two. But value investing philosophy rules (just like the Ten Commandments in the Bible) are the same now as they were 50 years ago. Buffett simply adds a new shade of grey onto the same wisdom in each letter. Here is the thing with shades: You see them only as shades next to other shades, not as colors in their own right.

Then I discovered that Lawrence Cunningham had edited Buffett’s letters into a book, 50 Shades of Warren Buffett. Okay, the actual name of the book was The Essays of Warren Buffett. When people ask me for the one book they should read about Warren Buffett, my answer is always The Essays of Warren Buffett – it’s as close to an autobiography of Buffett as you’ll get.

(By the way, if you haven’t read “The Six Commandments of Value Investing” – an excerpt from my next book – you can sign up here to read it. I’ve been asked, why six, not ten? My deeply Talmudic answer is, “Value investing is about quality not quantity.”)

As you can see, I owe Lawrence gratitude, not just as an investor but as educator as well, for editing Buffett’s essays. I met Lawrence in Omaha a few years ago when we were on the Value Investing Panel at Creighton University (here is a video from our panel a few years ago). As I got to know him I discovered that he’s an incredibly nice human being, and we became pen pals. So when he asked me to write a chapter for his next book, as much as I wanted to say no to another writing project, I could not turn him down. (As a side note, reciprocity of kindness is an incredibly powerful. We want to be extra kind to people who are kind to us!) When I received the book I discovered that I was in the company of incredible role models and industry pillars, some of whom have become friends over the years, often through sharing a stage at one of the several dozen events I’ve participated in Omaha over the years.

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Vitaliy Katsenelson

I am the CEO at IMA, which is anything but your average investment firm. (Why? Get our company brochure here, or simply visit our website).

In a brief moment of senility, Forbes magazine called me “the new Benjamin Graham.”

I’ve written two books on investing, which were published by John Wiley & Sons and have been translated into eight languages. (I’m working on a third - you can read a chapter from it, titled “The 6 Commandments of Value Investing” here).

And if you prefer listening, audio versions of my articles are published weekly at investor.fm.

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