Warren Buffett is a true genius as he is able to simplify complex ideas into quotes that will stand the test of time. Warren Buffett spent his life dispensing advice to all who would listen, earning him the nickname of the Oracle of Omaha. In the 1960s, this advice came about twice a year in letters to investors in his investment partnerships. Starting a few years later, Warren Buffett’s wisdom was distilled through the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting and the annual shareholder letter, and in the past 20 years, Warren Buffett has become a household name through appearances on TV and interviews in magazines.
Read on for Warren Buffett’s best quotes on life, investing, and his top five insights.
1. “You only have to do a very few things right in your life so long as you don’t do too many things wrong.”
2. “Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be a more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.”
3. “It is not necessary to do extraordinary things to get extraordinary results.”
4. “What we learn from history is that people don’t learn from history.”
5. “Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”
6. “There seems to be some perverse human characteristic that likes to make easy things difficult.”
7. “Nothing sedates rationality like large doses of effortless money.”
8. “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
9. “It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.”
10. “Long ago, Ben Graham taught me that ‘Price is what you pay; value is what you get.’ Whether we’re talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down.”
1. “The most important quality for an investor is temperament, not intellect. You need a temperament that neither derives great pleasure from being with the crowd or against the crowd.”
2. “Successful Investing takes time, discipline and patience. No matter how great the talent or effort, some things just take time: You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.”
3. “I don’t look to jump over seven-foot bars; I look around for one-foot bars that I can step over.”
4. “In the short term, the market is a popularity contest. In the long term, the market is a weighing machine.”
5. “Opportunities come infrequently. When it rains gold, put out the bucket, not the thimble”
6. “Diversification is a protection against ignorance. It makes very little sense for those who know what they’re doing.”
7. “If you aren’t willing to own a stock for ten years, don’t even think about owning it for ten minutes. Put together a portfolio of companies whose aggregate earnings march upward over the years, and so also will the portfolio’s market value.”
8. “The key to investing is not assessing how much an industry is going to affect society, or how much it will grow, but rather determining the competitive advantage of any given company and, above all, the durability of that advantage.”
9. “I am a better investor because I am a businessman, and a better businessman because I am an investor.”
10. “It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.”
Top five insights
Einstein said there are 5 ascending levels of intelligence: Smart, Intelligent, Brilliant, Genius, Simple. Warren Buffett’s top 5 insights each explain a truth about life or investing in the simplest way possible.
1. “I will tell you how to become rich. Close the doors. Be fearful when others are greedy. Be greedy when others are fearful.”
It is a gross oversimplification to say that the key to investing is to buy low and sell high. This quote from when Warren Buffett has been the basis of his most successful investments over time and the basis of how you could have avoided the last few bubbles.
2. “I tell college students, when you get to be my age you will be successful if the people who you hope to have love you, do love you.”
Warren Buffett has spent a lifetime studying conventionally successful people. It’s important to hear that at the end of the day, money is not the thing that matters most in life.
3. “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”
Numerous greats including Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett have attributed their success to focus. Many people have long to-do lists and work on becoming more productive, when in fact, having a not-do list is more important if you want to do great things.
4. “I’ve seen more people fail because of liquor and leverage — leverage being borrowed money. You really don’t need leverage in this world much. If you’re smart, you’re going to make a lot of money without borrowing.”
People succeed in life countless different ways but failures group around a few key themes. As such, you learn more from people’s failures than people’s successes.
5. “What an investor needs is the ability to correctly evaluate selected businesses. Note that word ‘selected’: You don’t have to be an expert on every company, or even many. You only have to be able to evaluate companies within your circle of competence. The size of that circle is not very important; knowing its boundaries, however, is vital.”
One of the quotes I hate the most in investing is Peter Lynch’s “Buy what you know” as it oversimplifies investing. The above quote is sort of the same idea but highlights that the important thing is being able to evaluate companies and also avoid companies you don’t understand. It’s that simple.
Warren Buffett is quoted so much because he has developed a great deal of wisdom over his lifetime. How did he do it?
The secret to Warren Buffett’s success
The secret to Warren Buffett’s success is that he continuously learns. Buffett is a far better investor today than he was 50 years ago. As Charlie Munger has explained:
Warren Buffett has become one hell of a lot better investor since the day I met him, and so have I. If we had been frozen at any given stage, with the knowledge we had, the record would have been much worse than it is. So the game is to keep learning, and I don’t think people are going to keep learning who don’t like the learning process.
While you may pick up a nugget of wisdom or two from the 25 best Warren Buffett quotes, committing yourself to a lifetime of learning is the best advice you should take from Warren Buffett.