How The Shoes On Your Feet Offer Clues To How You Invest


Jan 18, 2013

Written by Mary Buffett

Whenever I travel internationally to attend book signings or speak at conferences, people usually ask: “What is Warren Buffett really like?” and “how I can become a successful investor like him?”

To answer the first question — he is a wise sage who sees things that others miss. The answer to the second question is so counterintuitive to everything we see on Wall Street — Warren Buffett is a patient guy who loves finding bargains.

I was part of the Buffett family for twelve years, married to his son, so I had a ringside seat and learned how the master worked. Over the past 17 years, I have co-written eight books, many of them New York Times best sellers, and all designed to translate Warren Buffett’s investment success into plain language everybody can understand.

Even if you’ve had a bump in the road or faced one of life’s major calamities, like a long layoff or a painful divorce, you can not only make it back from the edge but build a comfortably life that gives you options.

As I was re-reading my book The New Buffettology to prepare for a talk I gave in Oman recently, I was struck by a friend’s comment that Warren’s wisdom over the years is still very much in vogue today. She’s right.

We live in a world where books about investment strategies fly off the bookshelves like the latest fad diet craze. They have complicated titles that that intimidate and the authors on these book jacket photos look down at the reader as if they are trying too hard to impress.

I have a different approach.

When I ask people, “How do you invest?” they often shut down emotionally or defer to their broker or financial planner. The just don’t know or they are not very confident about their portfolio choices.

So I’ll ask the same question but talk about something we all enjoy. I’m a woman who loves shoes. So if I’m having lunch or dinner with some girlfriends and somebody has a dynamite pair, I’ll ask, “Tell me how you found them.” After a half hour of some very animated back-and-forth conversation, I’ll have more clues about how she invests than any spreadsheet about her portfolio from her broker.

What I love to hear is that golden sentence, “I got a great deal on these shoes, Mary.” She’ll tell how she waited for them to go on sale or found them on eBay. No matter how they ended up on their feet, the fact she got them for a steal would bring a smile to Warren’s face.

Without knowing it, she understood the basic formula to how Warren Buffett invests.

While everybody else is sprinting to the latest hot stock, Warren Buffett will invest in companies whose value has been momentarily discounted. It’s no different than finding great shoes for a great sale price. If you can master that skill, then you can take control of your portfolio and your life.

I’m not a broker and I am not going to tell you what stocks to buy. However, I have made a career explaining why Warren Buffett is attracted to certain stocks or chooses to buy certain companies outright. Together we’ll talk about what I call “value investing,” alongside many of the issues that we face going through life’s up and downs.

And together we will go far.

So tell me something. How did you find your best deals? Tell me what it was and how you found it. Let me know here.

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