The life, work, and philosophy of the greatest capitalist of the 21st century
With over 800 pages covering the life of Warren Buffet, The Snowball is epic in scale and detail and is worth reading if you're interested in Warren Buffett's financials, life, and philosophy; but this is certainly not a book you should pick up if you're uninterested in such topics.
The book begins by chronicling Warren's entrepreneurial ventures throughout his childhood. Warren sold chewing gum, Coke bottles, and magazines door-to-door before purchasing his first stock at the age of 11. He filed his first tax return at the age of 14 (with a $35 deduction for his bicycle and watch) and bought, repaired, and rented out a pinball machines as a sophomore in high school before selling the business for $1,200. By the age of 20, Warren had saved just over $9,800, equivalent to $98,000 2016 USD.
As the story of Warren's life unfolds it becomes increasingly apparent that he is a man with simple tastes and has an unwavering internal compass that dictates his habits, life, and decisions.
He preaches market fundamentals. He does a tremendous amount of financial due diligence on any stock he purchases while also focusing on a firm's operations and management.
He claims that he only invests in what he can understand having kept out of the booming technology market because he did not fully comprehend its value during the 90's tech bubble even when popular opinion turned against, and sometimes condemned, him.
He does not indulge in the frills of the uber rich. He prefers a nice hamburger to filet mignon and is uncomfortable in high-class society. He still resides in the home that he bought in 1958. If Warren Buffett is frugal, shouldn't I be too?
He will protect his reputation more fervently than financials and claims, "Lose money for the firm and I will be understanding. Lose a shred of reputation for the firm and I will be ruthless."
And when asked what the measure of a person's life work should be, Warren responds, "When you get to my age, you'll really measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you."
Throughout the book you will encounter many Buffettisms as Warren is both an incredible teacher and story teller. You will learn not just the fundamentals of his investing strategy but also glimpse into the psychology of Warren's wealth accumulation. If you're interested in his life this book will give you a rare glimpse into his family and psychology.
Oftentimes we forget that the rich and famous have just as many hours in the day and are oftentimes born into humble, middle-class families. This book reminded me that me, Warren, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, etc. have only 24 hours per day and a finite number of days in our lives. It is possible to achieve greatness so long as those hours and days are focused.
3.5 pawprints out of 5 - if you're interested enough to devote several weeks (or months), it's worth it.