A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity along with several hundred other Georgetown students to hear from Warren Buffet about the economy, investing, and general observation from a man that has seen many changes in his eighty-three years. While other students asked questions about finance and economics, I was more impressed with Mr. Buffet’s effortless and simple wisdom that is applicable beyond the financial market. What I learned from the conversation far exceeded my expectations. In his brief conversation, Warren Buffets casual conversation prompted me to not only apply his advice to economics, but also to how I manage my personal brand.
1) In speaking about his philanthropy works, it is evident Warrant Buffet is very passionate about making an impact in the world. In short, he summarized his interests as, “every human life has equal value.”
How it impacts personal brand: Every person you interact has value. You may not know what it is, but always treat people with kindness and respect. Say thank you regardless how big or small the contribution. How can a thank you pay off? Mark Goulston wrote an article for Harvard Business Review back in February on how to give a meaningful ‘thank you’. My favorite part of the article was research by Adam Grant and Francesca Gino that showed saying thank you not only results in reciprocal generosity — where the thanked person is more likely to help the thanker — but also stimulates pro-social behavior in general. In other words, saying “thanks” increases the likelihood your employee will not only help you, but also help someone else.
2) He also talked about his inability to control anything from the grave.
How it impacts personal brand: A given, you cannot control everything that comes your way. Don’t try too. What you can control is your reaction. As I written before, maintaining your personal brand online can be tricky when you let your emotions rule your social media content. It about managing what you can, and not worrying about what you cannot. As I wrote previously about managing your personal brand online, your digital footprint lives permanently online, therefore think before your type.
3) When asked about what we can expect from the economy and society, he was succinct, “humans will continue to behave as they have some for every other economic cycle. When people are scared they want to leave at the same time” This reference is regarding people leaving the stock market.
How it impacts personal brand: Whether you work in B-to-C or B-to-B it is still about people. Behind that B2B business is people, so treat them like humans rather than just another target market. In everything we do, at the end of the day, it about connecting people to others, a product or a feeling. Jay Baer’s recent book, Youtility, is all about providing value to people in terms of helping them. One of the key themes that underline this concept of utility is would clients would actual pay for your content. Think about that. Would people be willing to pay for your content? People will only pay for something if it is of value. Nothing will change this human behavior.
4) “Nobody does it alone. We sit in the shade that others have planted.”
How it impacts personal brand: By far, one of my favorite sound bites from Mr. Buffet. This is so important to personal brand because you do not get where you are today in business or in life without help. Period. Remember to find your allies and learn from your haters. Those interactions will pave the way to creating the trees that you will enjoy and share. Harvard Business Review covered the topic of finding career sponsors and I think Mr. Buffet was right. Those who help you along the way pave the path for future success.
5) His philosophy on investing. Simply, “find opportunity.”
How it impacts personal brand: There is opportunity in everything you do. Don’t forget that. Even the most mundane activity could lead to something great down the road. Entrepreneur.com writer wrote a great post how to look for new business ideas in everyday life that I think could be applied to the concept of opportunity.
Bonus: “You don’t need to be the smartest. Just learn how to ignore.”
How it impacts personal brand: This is all about focus and learning to drown out the noise. There will always be distractions or shiny objects, but truly successful individuals learn to have laser focus. Don’t listen to the noise. It is meant to be distracting.
At the end of the day, Mr. Buffet advice while it is intended for more financial outcomes provided more application to everyday life. Who can argue with someone who has this successful? What would you add?
Rachel DiCaro Metscher, director of advocacy and communications for Hobsons, has worked with many organizations to build their communications and marketing programs, including Fannie Mae, American Psychological Association, and The Princeton Review. Currently, Rachel is responsible for Hobsons’ external communication programs, which include public relations, brand, website, and social media.