Tag: Berkshire Hathaway

Nina Gerson is a senior studying Finance with a minor in Latin American Studies. Today, she’s a guest blogger sharing her experience on a recent trip to Omaha.

A group of twenty Olin Business School students had the chance to take a trip to Omaha, Nebraska and meet with Warren Buffett, one of the most legendary investors of all time and the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.

The trip began with visits to two of Berkshire Hathaway’s subsidiaries, Nebraska Furniture Mart and Borsheims Fine Jewelry. As we listened to the subsidiaries’ management speak about their partnership with Berkshire Hathaway, we were able to glean insight into Mr. Buffett’s leadership style and his ability to build an empire.

We had the opportunity to have lunch and a Q&A session with Mr. Buffett, and all questions were fair game. With refreshingly witty anecdotes and impressive knowledge, Mr. Buffett commented on the pressing issues of today, from nuclear weapons to income inequality.

Mr. Buffett did not shy away from reflecting on his personal life. He emphasized the importance of family and true friendship, saying, “You don’t feel bad about your life if you feel good about your family.”

He had an outstanding ability to simplify his investing strategies, so that his advice was practical and accessible, while still being profound and cutting-edge. Mr. Buffett opined, “People make the game hard because it is so easy.” He spoke about the importance of investing where you are knowledgeable and being brave when the market disagrees, particularly in tough times.

Although many of us may had already read his books and heard stories of his successes, we all appreciated hearing this wise man speak about his life and his outlook for our generation. A key takeaway for me was witnessing Warren Buffett’s humbleness and sincerity, even when speaking about himself and his success.

I have no doubt that this unforgettable experience will have an enduring impact on all who were present that day on the future perspectives of both their business and personal lives.

Click below to expand images.

There is no denying, Warren Buffett is an extraordinary businessman. And Berkshire Hathaway is an exceedingly successful company. But, can it survive beyond Warren Buffett?

BRKThis is the question Lawrence Cunningham tackled in his book, Berkshire Beyond Buffett: The Enduring Value of Values.

Cunningham is the Henry St. George Tucker III Research Professor of Law at George Washington University and is considered an expert on Berkshire Hathaway and Warren Buffett.

Hillary Sale, Walter D. Coles Professor of Law and Professor of Management, moderated a panel discussion in Emerson Auditorium at Olin Business School on February 25, 2015, that included Cunningham, Assistant Professor of Finance Radhakrishnan Gopalan, and MiTek Chairman and CEO Tom Manenti.

Cunningham argues that the leaders, companies and board of directors of Berkshire have been cultivated and are strong enough to make the transition.

Tom Manenti

Manenti recounted the story of MiTek and how it became a Berkshire company. MiTek discovered they fit the criteria for acquisition and started pursuing the course. Gene Toombs IV, Group President at MiTek, thought his assistant and Manenti were playing a joke when he was called at home to come into the office and return a phone call to Warren Buffett.

In his initial letter to Berkshire, Toombs had enclosed a sample of their building materials product, an extremely sharp piece of metal, wrapping it in Styrofoam and tape, hoping Buffett would not injure himself on it!

Manenti said Buffett knows within five minutes of talking to a CEO if he will be doing a deal with that leader. The person’s character shows itself right away.

Gopalan spoke about Berkshire companies and their valuation. There is value because over time Berkshire has proven success and is able to acquire at a lower price.

Lawrence Cunningham

Lawrence Cunningham

Berkshire Hathaway has never sold a company it has purchased in 40 years. Some of the companies may have sold off internal assets, but the parent companies have never been sold. A remarkable record of success. And the best value is quality management, which allows companies to respond to a changing environment.

The board of Berkshire Hathaway has been working on succession planning for more than 20 years. One of the lessons Manenti has learned from Buffett is to have a plan. Every two years he receives a letter from Buffett asking who to contact of something were to happen to Manenti. Who would take over the next morning?

Manenti believes Berkshire Hathaway will remain strong because it will continue to follow the principles Buffett established. He quoted one of the Oracle of Omaha’s maxims,  “If you lose money, I will understand. If you cause us to lose one shred of reputation, I will be ruthless.” He also said that Warren Buffet, “makes you want to run your business with the highest level of integrity.”

Immediately after completing the last final exam of my first year, I jumped in the car and drove to Omaha, Nebraska.  Seven hours and several snowstorms later, I was drifting to sleep in my hotel room, restlessly anticipating the next day’s events.

That’s me in front of the CenturyLink Center.

 On Saturday, May 4th, I had the honor of attending the 2013 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting as an MBA student representing Washington University in Saint Louis.  The meeting was held at the CenturyLink Center in downtown Omaha.

The meeting was action packed.  It started with Warren Buffett’s self-professed Hollywood fanaticism: an original showing of a 2013 shareholders meeting movie, specifically created for the entertainment of the 35,000 visitors in attendance.   It was witty, humorous, and insightful. 

Getting a hug from the GEICO lizard.

The day continued on with Q&A, a tour of the exhibition hall, and more Q&A. 

Although no photography was allowed inside the arena, it was permitted in the adjacent convention center, where dozens of Berkshire Hathaway’s portfolio companies set up shop to discuss their businesses. 

Here are just a few examples of their larger than life displays (including the photo up top at the clever Larson Juhl custom framing exhibit booth):

From left to right: Warren Buffett, me, and Charlie Munger. (Borsheims Jewelry behind)

The Oriental Trading flamingo.


The weekend did not end there. 

Ready for the race.

On Sunday morning, Brooks Running (yet another one of Berkshire Hathaway’s portfolio companies) sponsored an inaugural shareholder weekend 5K. 

With Mr. Buffett on the mic and start gun, this was not your typical race!  Despite the cold weather, the turnout was strong and all runners seemed to thrive on the Berkshire Hathaway spirit.

The weekend was a fantastic experience and I hope to make the trek again.  For more information on the meeting, visit the following links: