Wit and Wisdom - Favorite Quotes

03/14/2003 12:00 am EST

Focus:

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that you’ll do things differently.”

 

“Never lie under any circumstances. Don’t pay any attention to the lawyers. If you start letting lawyers get into the picture, they’ll basically tell you, ‘don’t say anything.’ You’ll never get tangled up if you just basically lay it out as you see it.”

 

“My guess is that if Ted Williams was getting the highest salary in baseball and he was hitting  .220 he would be unhappy. And if he were getting the lowest salary in baseball and batting .400, he’d be very happy. That’s the way I feel about doing this job. Money is a by-product of doing something I like doing extremely well.”

 

“I choose to work with every single person that I work with. That ends up being the most important factor. I don’t interact with people I don’t like or admire. That’s the key. It’s like marrying.”

 

“Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. You think about it; it’s true. If you hire somebody without the first, you really want them to be dumb and lazy.”

 

“Our conclusion is that, with few exceptions, when management with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for poor fundamental economics, it is the reputation of the business that remains intact.”

 

“I don’t try to jump over 7-foot bars: I look around for 1-foot bars that I can step over.”

 

“Like Wayne Gretzky says, go where the puck is going, not where it is.”

 

“Can you really explain to a fish what it’s like to walk on land? One day on land is worth a thousand years of talking about it, and one day running a business has exactly the same kind of value.”

 

“I consider there to be three basic ideas, ideas that if really ground into your intellectual framework, I don’t see how you could help but do reasonably well in stocks. None of them are complicated. None of them take mathematical talent or anything of the sort. (Graham) said you should look at stocks as small pieces of the business. Look at (market) fluctuations as your friend rather than your enemy—profit from folly rather than participate in it.  And in (the last chapter of the Intelligent Investor ), he said the three most important words of investing: ‘margin of safety.’ I think those ideas, 100 years from now, will still be regarded as the three cornerstones of sound investing.”

 

“If we find a company we like, the level of the market will not really impact our decisions. We will decide company by company. We spend essentially no time thinking about macroeconomic factors. In other words, if somebody handed us a prediction by the most revered intellectual on the subject, with figures for unemployment or interest rates, or whatever it might be for the next two years, we would not pay any attention to it. We simply try to focus on businesses that we think we understand and where we like the price and management. If we see anything that relates to what’s going to happen in Congress, we don’t even read it. We just don’t think it’s helpful to have a view on these matters.”

 

“The future is never clear; you pay a very high price in the stock market for a cheery consensus. Uncertainty actually is the friend of the buyer of long-term values.”

 

“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”

 

“It doesn’t have to be rock bottom to buy it. It has to be selling for less than you think the value of the business is, and it has to be run by honest and able people. But if you can buy into a business for less than it’s worth today, and you're confident of the management, and you buy into a group of businesses like that, you’re going to make money.”

 

“Sometimes it’s wise to look at problems from the opposite direction. It’s like singing country western songs backward. That way you get your home back, your auto back, your wife back, and so forth….”

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