He Said She Said: 2014 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting

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Somewhere in there is Warren Buffett…

Today we’re bringing you another round of He Said/She Said. These posts are really your chance as readers to hear how discussions (and sometimes disagreements) play out when managing our lives with each other. For a look at some of the past He Said/She Said discussions – check ‘em out here.

This past weekend, Mr PoP and I joined the 1500’s and attended our very first Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholders meeting. Mr PoP has been an avid reader of everything Buffett for many years, and while I’ve always liked what I’ve read (newspaper articles, etc) about the man and his company, I was never interested enough to want to read the 800+ pages worth of Berkshire Hathaway Annual Letters  that Mr PoP has read (some multiple times) over the years, not to mention multiple books on Buffett and Munger. But, with Buffett now an 83-year-old, and Munger now 90 (90!), we knew we couldn’t postpone visiting the Oracle of Omaha for much longer and decided to go for it.

So what did we think of the trip?

In short, one visit, and we’re hooked. Perhaps we got hoodwinked by unseasonably lovely weather in Omaha, but we are already planning on going again next year and making this a yearly trip. That said, we each walked away with different takeaways on the weekend.

He Said

First off, big thanks to the 1500’s for letting us use their tickets. Mr. and Mrs. 1500 were an absolute blasts to hang out with, and one of the reasons the weekend was so enjoyable; check them out at 1500days and ask Mr. 1500 about his dinosaur!

What I learned:

1.) The thing that I struck me the most was the the timeframe that Buffett and Munger operated in. Quarterly numbers were basically non-events; yearly numbers were only of vague interest; Buffett and Munger used a 5 year time frame as the smallest amount of time you could draw useful comparisons from regarding their performance vs. the broader market. I like to think that Mrs. PoP and play the long game, but this was eye-opening! If Charlie and Warren were evaluating our performance against our peers they would likely say something to the effect, “early returns are promising.”

2.) Midwesterners are some of the nicest people int he world. We used AirBnB to stay at an apartment that belonged to a law student-he made us feel very, very welcome, had decorated his door with the different BRK logos, and had laid out different books on the topic of Buffett and BRK on the coffee table. He even offered us tickets to the baseball game that night! Sure, the geography is boring, and the weather can be brutal, but the people are great out there.

3.) These guys love each other, what they do, and what they have built. Buffett and Munger acted like an old married couple on stage, and obviously share a pretty deep connection. I think that Munger actually got wistful at one point while he was talking about how Berkshire will live on after he does. I wonder if I’ll be able to look back in my 90’s at something that I’ve built that will live on after I’m gone.


She Said

I think the biggest takeaway from the 6-hour long Q&A session with Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger is just how much of a team they really are. Being just a casual observer of Berkshire Hathaway over the years (and not a true devotee the way Mr PoP is), I had never really learned much about Munger. It’s always Buffett, Buffett, Buffett, and very little mention of Munger ever makes it to the news. However, there were several points at which it became clear that they are truly a team.

1. Verbose and Taciturn Both Have Their Place. Buffett is very clearly the talker among the pair, while Munger’s taciturn manner seems to have turned into a bit of a joke over the years. Some audience members even giggled when Munger followed up Buffett’s lengthy answers with abrupt statements like “I agree” or “I have nothing to add”.

2. Qualitative and Quantitative Evaluation Methods Are Both Needed. I’ve always heard about the quantitative aspects of Buffett’s investing style – and his long love affair with Benjamin Graham’s very quantitative “value investing” style. So it was interesting to hear Buffett talk about how that quantitative style has been augmented over the years by Munger’s qualitative investment approach. It seemed as though it was the combination of these approaches more than any one over another that were responsible for the success of BRK.

3. Which Came First, The Agreement, Or The Years Of Working Together? After years of working together, Buffett and Munger agree on virtually every business decision. Though I also wondered in a chicken/egg manner if it was in part because they reached similar conclusions so often that their business partnership and friendship had endured as long as it has.  Either way, it was very interesting to see that they both reached the same conclusion, though occasionally via different means on many discussions.

It was really this view into a 50+ year business partnership that I found myself reflecting upon again and again on over the weekend and thinking about Mr PoP and me. While it’d be tough to pin either of us down strictly as a “Charlie” or a “Warren”, (Mr. PoP Edit-thats a bunch of crap-she is obviously the quantitative Buffett, I’m Munger) the vibe of taking complicated and hard scenarios, and working on them together with different strengths really hit home, even though we’ve only been in a financial partnership (marriage) for about 1/10th of the time that Charlie and Warren have been. But hopefully the strength of their friendship and partnership bodes well for ours, since I wouldn’t mind another 45+ years with Mr PoP.


PS – And next year I’d love it if we can finagle a later flight so I can participate in the Invest In Yourself 5K (the running shoe company Brooks is owned by BRK) that Warren Buffett pulls the starting gun at.

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World’s largest lollipop… over 7K lbs!

Who’s up for joining us at next year’s BRK Shareholder Meeting!?!  We’re all running the 5K!

37 comments to He Said She Said: 2014 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting

  • It was great to hang out with you both as well! Spending time with like minded people never, ever gets old. Same place and time next year? My torn knees seem to be reacting well to recent running experiments, so I’ll even do the 5k.

    “Being just a casual observer of Berkshire Hathaway over the years (and not a true devotee the way Mr PoP is), I had never really learned much about Munger.”

    Munger completely intrigues me. There are those charity lunches where if you pay a lot of money, you get to have lunch with Buffett. I’d rather talk to Munger though. That man is a deep, deep thinker.
    Mr. 1500 recently posted..Thursday Rant: Random ThoughtsMy Profile

    • Mama Pop

      It’s a little known fact that Mr. Pop actually had a “FREE” dinner with Warren Buffet in high school because an academic club that he was in had a competition in Omaha. Ok, so Buffet actually was eating his meal at the next table, not our table. However, Buffet was the featured speaker at the banquet and he was fabulous.

      In case anyone is interested, Buffet very kindly posed for a picture, even putting his arm around Mr. Pop’s shoulders and pretending to whisper investing secrets in his ear!

      One point that Buffet made in his speech was that he’s lived in the same modest house for many years with his wife and goes to work as usual. He pointed out that everyone has access to the same 24 hours each day. He said he sleeps on a mattress from Sears that is available to anyone. Lots of down to earth – money hasn’t made me happier or better than the average person – kinds of examples for the high schoolers.

      • “One point that Buffet made in his speech was that he’s lived in the same modest house for many years with his wife and goes to work as usual.”

        Yes, that is one of the great things about Buffett. He not only knows how to make money, but he has a pretty good idea of how not to let it ruin you.
        Mr. 1500 recently posted..10 Questions with the Mad FIentistMy Profile

      • I lived close to Buffet as a kid. His house is big but not humungous. It’s definitely an upper middle class house, but he he doesn’t own something resort-like.

        I do remember rumors that he gave away full sized candy bars for Halloween each year. No idea if that’s true, but I’ve always had a fondness for Buffet.
        Leah recently posted..Feeling blessedMy Profile

  • Maverick

    I envy their long-term viewpoint in comparison to the daily Wall Street market analysis. I don’t make many changes in my portfolio either. I have wanted to purchase BH shares for years (before the insane folksy popularity). But quite frankly, and not meant to be morbid, I can wait until their passing, when BH stock takes a drop. Is this a bad way to view value investing? (I sincerely hope not, as I truely wish them a long life)

    • Maverick- I’m sure there will be a little bit a drop, but keep in mind that while Munger is 90, Buffett is just 83. 83 is old, but they seem to both be in pretty good shape. I can see Buffett still going at it in 7 years. So, you may miss out on some big gains, just by waiting around for a little one.
      Mr. 1500 recently posted..Thursday Rant: Random ThoughtsMy Profile

  • “Perhaps we got hoodwinked by unseasonably lovely weather in Omaha…” Lol, last year it was cold and rainy here for the convention so you guys definitely got to see some of our nicer Spring weather. This was my fifth or sixth meeting and it never gets old (no pun intended :) ) listening to Buffett and Munger. I loved hearing about Warren’s plan for his wife when he passes and putting 90% in an S & P fund, so simple yet so smart. Glad you had a great time in our fare city!
    John @ Frugal Rules recently posted..Don’t Blame the Credit Card, Blame YourselfMy Profile

  • Kim

    I’d love to go the the annual meeting, but Jim would rather get teeth pulled, so I don’t see it happening. I can’t being so relevant in my 80’s and 90’s. What a legacy!
    Kim recently posted..Online Eye Exams: Money Saving or a Bad Idea?My Profile

  • I’d love to go to the annual meeting. The release of the annual letter is something I always look forward to on my calendar.

    Buffet is so intriguing to me because I think he’s managed his success really well. He doesn’t come off as a jerk and it’s clear he has real compassion for people who are disadvantaged. I would hope to have a similar amount of humility and humanity if I ever became that rich!
    Mr. Frugalwoods recently posted..Why Did We Buy Our House?My Profile

  • Maverick

    It’s going to be much more than a little drop…there, I’m on record.

    • Hahaha. Well, if you’re going on record, care to give us a percentage drop during the first quarter after his death or resignation?
      Mr PoP recently posted..He Said She Said: 2014 Berkshire Hathaway Annual MeetingMy Profile

      • Maverick

        Sure…here goes:
        The premium for Warren Buffett is 8% (minimum)
        The premium for Charlie Munger is 3% (minimum)
        In other words, should either one leave the company, that is the minimum I believe the stock will drop, or combined, a minimum of 11% after the announcement. With a maximum combined drop of up to 20%. It’s predominately a reinsurance company.

        (ref. Apple’s stock price dropped 5% after news of his death and he wasn’t really running the company at the time.)

        Furthermore, I predict that after their departure, the shareholder mtgs won’t ever be the size it was this year again.

        Finally, even the Oracle himself admits that his heirs would do best to just invest in low-cost index funds after his passing.

  • Sounds like a great event, the 5 year window is intersting. Isn’t that the wealthy aren’t making decisions at what will happen tomorrow, but rather in 5 or 10 years, a confirmation since they seem to be doing pretty well for themselves.
    Even Steven recently posted..Only 12,000 Days till I RetireMy Profile

  • Wow, what an amazing experience for you both – especially going for the first time!

    The ‘real’ long-term view they focus on is no doubt a big part of their success – as well as the fact that they’ve stayed true to their own investment style, and stuck with their way of operating for a phenomenal period of time.

    But I’m even more impressed with how much they still love what they do, and still love working with each other. We’ll never generate returns like Buffett and Munger (as least over 50 years), but we can learn so much from how they go about their work and life – absolutely inspirational.

    I hope you enjoy a return trip next year and take away some more of that magic for your own long-term PoP partnership!
    Jason @ Islands of Investing recently posted..What’s a ‘P/E ratio’, and how can it help me become a better investor? (Part 2)My Profile

    • I’ve always wondered if you loved the thing you were good at, or became really good at the thing you loved. For those two, I think it is a little bit of both. As I get older, I continue to figure out what I’m good at, and what I’m not good at…hopefully I’ll find something that I can enjoy for as long as they have enjoyed Berkshire.
      Mr PoP recently posted..He Said She Said: 2014 Berkshire Hathaway Annual MeetingMy Profile

  • How cool that you guys got to go to this! I’m not sure that type of meeting is for me, but I do love everything WB stands for. I’d probably be more interested in the 5k. :)
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted..It’s Not Always About the BenjaminsMy Profile

  • That’s awesome that you guys got to go! It really is amazing when you think about how great of a team they make together. The results speak for themselves, but the amount of fun they seem to have together is really cool to see.
    Matt Becker recently posted..Featured on Mint!My Profile

  • Its interesting that it was a whole five years! I think most people want to think in terms of one year increments. It makes sense though to look at the bigger picture. There are a lot of things that may not be super meaningful which effect the short run. Very interesting stuff!
    The Wallet Doctor recently posted..How to reduce your food costsMy Profile

  • Very cool that you got to visit the annual meeting. This event is getting more popular as BRK is always going up in stock price. I wonder how many shares of class A you own? I can only afford class B. HA.
    EL @ Moneywatch101 recently posted..The Truth behind Multi-Level MarketingMy Profile

  • […] judge the contest, I’m bringing in Mrs. PoP from Planting our Pennies. The PoPs attended the Berkshire meeting with us and we all had a great time chatting about money, the Acura NSX and even little plastic dinosaurs. […]

  • I’ve always found it interested that so much emphasis is put on monthly, quarterly or yearly statistics when it comes to finances. These can be so misleading though (depending on what it is you’re analyzing, of course) and I like the idea of the 5 year time-frame instead.
    Debt and the Girl recently posted..Life UpdatesMy Profile

  • Sounds like a fun and eye-opening experience for both of you! The 1500’s are a great couple, glad you all had a great time and that’s awesome about the 5k next year! So what happened with that lollipop?!? :)
    anna recently posted..May UpdatesMy Profile

  • Sounds like a fun time, guys! I think it would be interesting to hear what they have to say. Obviously most people could learn a lot from those two.
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..Your Mortgage: Is 30 Years Too Long?My Profile

  • Pops – Thanks for the update on the BRK conference. The world of finance is a much better place with Buffett in it, quietly and confidently and folksily providing a sensible counterweight to all the finance noise and nonsense we might get from most media.

  • Sounds like you had a blast. More importantly, it seems like you and your hubby learned quite a bit. That’s awesome that the 1500s brought you with them! Thanks for sharing what you learned about Buffet and… hold on… oh yea Munger. You know, I’ve heard buffet quite a bit. So much that I knew his name before I started investing. Truth is, I didn’t know Munger even existed until about a year ago when I got deeper into research on investment strategies. Wow 90 years old and he’s still at Q and A sessions, that’s awesome!
    Joshua @ CNA recently posted..Teaching Your Kids About MoneyMy Profile

  • I love it that you did this!! Dunno that I’d even think of showing up at an annual meeting like this, tho’ I get invites all the time. Doesn’t seem like a place where the hoi and the polloi would be welcome. Yet you managed to show up, have a good time, and learn a lot. Well done! 😀

    Heh heh heh… How cool would it BE if we could round up a bunch of PF bloggers at this thing next year? Would it or would it not be a newsworthy (i.e., PR-worthy) event… To say nothing of crazy PF-blogger-nerd fun!
    Funny about Money recently posted..Delta Credit Card OffersMy Profile

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