Lessons from a $650,000 Lunch

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$650,000 is a lot to pay for lunch, but back in 2008 Guy Spiers and his friend Mohnish Pabrai paid that amount to have lunch with Warren Buffett at Smith and Wollensky’s restaurant in New York. Fund managers are renowned for spending heavy, but in this case the coin was all going to charity. Spiers has recently written about that lunch, the five lessons he took from it and how it changed his life. They are worth taking a look at.

  1. Unconventional is often better – People will often try to talk you out of doing what’s right if it’s unconventional. Which is very true. Orthodoxy is comfortable and often sensible, but it’s also boring and invites complacency. You have to swim against the tide every now and again so that when it turns, you’re way out in front. 
  2. Keep hold of your inner child – The story goes that Buffett told the children at the lunch that he doesn’t eat anything as an adult that he didn’t like when he was five years old. That would make him a rather bizarre man if true, and goes against his reputation for being strongly inquisitive in nature. But regardless, the lesson works. Children are curious. Joyful. Excitable. Eager. They’re traits we have to hold onto. 
  3. Learn how to say ‘no’ to people – Every time you say yes to something, realistically you’re often saying no to another person. It’s a question of knowing your priorities and showing the discipline needed to win. 
  4. Be driven by your inner scorecard – This is one of the most important lessons we need in life. It’s about knowing what is true and right. It’s tough because we place a lot of emphasis on how we are precieved.  
  5. Take risks for the right relationships – This is crucial for people with stupidly busy professional lives. Life can become incredibly self-serving if we allow it to be. So when you find someone that inspires you, take risks and invest the time in that relationship. It doesn’t matter whether it’s professionally or personally. Winning is happiness. People get us there. 

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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