An important lesson I learned in life is what I call “emulate and evolve.” If you want to succeed in a particular field, the first thing to do is to seek out the person that has come before you, who has succeeded more than anyone else, and emulate them. Once you have made those principles or activities a habit, then evolve those so they remain relevant to a changing world.
If your goal is to be a great operator of a business or an exceptional investor, there is no other person you should look to emulate than Warren Buffett. Larry Cunningham’s Essays of Warren Buffett does a masterful job at providing a logical architecture to introduce, or reintroduce, the important lessons that Warren Buffett has shared over the last half century.
Warren Buffett followed a path of emulate and evolve. At the age of nineteen, Buffett read a copy of Benjamin Graham’s Intelligent Investorfrom the Omaha Public Library, and, almost in an instant, he was indoctrinated into thinking as a value investor. With a goal of committing Graham’s principles to habit, Buffett applied to Columbia Business School to study with Graham.
In The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons of Corporate America, the reader is taken on a journey of how Buffett emulated Graham’s value principles, such as Mr. Market and Margin of Safety, and applied those key insights to the rationality of his decision-making process. The reader is also able to witness the progression of Buffett’s thinking as it evolved over the decades from looking at Graham’s “net-nets” toward looking at businesses where intrinsic value would compound through time.
I found the organization and compilation of the “Essays” so helpful in communicating the evolution of value investing from Graham to Buffett that I have added this book to the reading list for the Security Analysis class I teach at Columbia Business School. Read More