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Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday Feature Book Review: The Oracle Speaks: Warren Buffett in his Own Words by David Andrews ウォーレン・バフェット: 億万長者の助言の言葉

This book is a great insight into the man, and to the point. Unlike SnowballWarren Buffett's authorized biography published in 2008, this is a set of highlights. This book is just core hard facts, thoughts and observations by the great investor himself. It comes across not so much as a book, but a collection of important financial notes or guides from the world's richest man. They just serve as a great reminder to stick to the core basics, and maintain your investment principles no matter how much markets change in front of you.

I really enjoyed the very simple text, and it's very easy to read writing style. In fact, I liked it almost as much as the pearls of wisdom shared on each page. In many ways, it is a collection of "the best of Buffett" quotes or observations. If you respect the "Oracle of Omaha", also known as the "Sage of Omaha" or the "Wizard of Omaha", then this is for you. You may also wonder if his personal code of conduct is also a core element to his investment success and proven time intensive process. 

He often seems to be judged by the masses on what he has said in public. Many of the quotes read like a list of insights into how to be a better investor. You wonder if without the great Oracle's frame of mind, perhaps the same trade would not be seen, or recognized, or valued in the same way by non-Oracles like him. He was born on August 30, 1930, and will turn 87 this summer. He was a newspaper delivery boy and started investing when he was 11, in 1941. Think about that date and what it means for the kind of mindset he grew up with. 

He started investing after seeing the great depression all around him, and just when the military spending of World War Two kicked in. He is known for his frugality, and ability to deeply read all about the kinds of companies that he invests in. He has been able to see, via investments, the entire post war economic recovery of the US in global markets. He has also been able to pick winners around these developments and make a very comfortable living. Many other people in theory "could" have done the same, but few took the chance to do so at an early age. Time can be a solid friend with long term investments, and the older Warren gets, the more impressive his results do seem.

There are too many quotes to pass on, but one of the most enduring is not easy to figure out. It is so contrarian, and almost unnatural in Wall Street, where herd mentality rule. Keeping your head focused when others are swept up with market momentum is no easy task. His insight, "be greedy when others are fearful, and fearful when others are greedy" is quite profound. It is not the observation of a teenager, nor a day trading investor. It is the fully matured view of a long term player who has seen many cycles, will see many more, and profit from many of them. 

Thoughts in this book are not just on investment or markets, but about life itself. This may be why the more quotes you read, the more you suspect that it is this rare grounded mindset that is what it takes to make winning investments. 


The Top 3 Takeaways from this book that really impact any reader are:

1) There is a lot to learn about investment and there are no short cuts that will bring any investor returns long term quickly or easily.

2) The impact of Benjamin Graham, his first financial teacher and influencer, was deep and very long lasting. It makes you want to read about the original inspiration for value investing as a result.

3) The amount of deep research constantly needed to make a profitable investment decision cannot be overlooked. It is not that Warren Buffet is brilliantly quick, and can see opportunities faster than others. It is more that once he reads all there is, it is more clear to him what should be invested in.

This is not a book to read once. You feel as if it is to be absorbed, not just read. It needs frequent reviews to make sure that you do incorporate all of the key points into any financial investment view. A very long term habit similar to the man himself, this book certainly satisfies the reader.  It is well written, smoothly edited, and a wonderful read for anyone in finance or not. Good solid sage advice. Highly recommended!

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