(photo credit: Associated Press)
Doing something you love and that excites you with the right people is the mantra that motivates US billionaire Warren Buffett, who has invested $4 billion of his estimated $44b. fortune to buy 80 percent of Tefen-based Iscar Metalworking.
"Doing what you love, involving the people you love, no money in the world can beat that," said Buffett during his first visit to Israel and the company he bought in May. "I work with people I love. I get out of bed and tap dance to work every day."
The vibrant 76-year-old's visit was a rare opportunity for Israel's business community to talk to the investment guru in person; he rarely makes public appearances.
Local business leaders from Ofra Strauss to Yitzhak Tshuva to Amikam Cohen rubbed shoulder with the Oracle of Omaha at a cocktail party at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem Monday evening. Much interest was shown in posing for personal photo with the great Buffett, who in his friendly and always smiling manner did not refuse any requests for another click or handshake from his many fans.
In his speech, Buffett laid out his principles and ethics of conducting business.
"The way I do business is not very complicated, via letters and e-mails we receive. We do obvious things. We wait for easy decisions and Iscar was one of them," Buffett said. "We wait for things to come to us, we do not go out and prospect. You don't have to swing. We can wait for exactly the pitch we want."
Talking to The Jerusalem Post at the end of an extremely tiring day, Buffett, who proclaimed that he loved newspapers, said Berkshire Hathaway would probably not make any non-US investments in places with a high political risk. "Regarding the question of currency risk, we wouldn't invest in companies whose business is geographically confined to a place with a [weak] currency. In the case of Iscar that was not an issue."
Buffett, one of the world's savviest investors, added that his firm often invested in blue-chip businesses like Coca Cola and Gillette.
"But then again there are businesses I bought that I haven't even seen yet, and I sincerely hope that they are still there," said Buffett, much to the entertainment of the audience.
He added that the trick to Berskhire's business was not to try to be a genius but rather to find geniuses to partner with and then try not to interfere with them.
"Thus people are crucial for us when making business decisions," said Buffett. "There are people who love the business and those who love the money, which is not bad in itself, but I depend on the people as I don't run the companies I buy."
Asked about the link between money and happiness, Buffett said that it didn't hurt to have money. "I give you an example. I still live in the same house since 1958 [bought for $31,000], despite having enough money to buy a new one," said Buffett. "My memories are in my old house. I like my neighbors and the neighborhood and I have no desire to do something I don't want to do just because I have money."
Buffett added there was nothing he had that other people didn't have, apart from a private jet.