The Gaye Watkins Report: Gaye Hits Omaha

Gaye Watkins With Peter Buffet at his Booksigning in Omaha During Berkshire Hathaway‘s Annual Shareholders meeting

Buffet’s Woodstock

As soon as my flight touched down, I was off to Warren Buffet’s Borsheims Jewelry store for a night of cocktails and dancing under the large white tent to funky 70’s tunes from a fabulous live band. As a new yorker, I never thought that I could have such a gosh darn good time in Omaha, Nebraska. The highlight of the weekend, or “Woodstock for Capitalists”, was the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting. The all day saturday meeting, where 79 year old CEO Warren Buffet and 86 year old Vice Chairman Charlie Munger, spoke of many subjects including Goldman Sachs. Regarding Goldman Sachs and their recent investigation by the government Buffet replied “..they don’t owe us a divulgence of what they’re doing.” Buffets company Berkshire Hathaway, has a relationship with Goldman Sachs going back to 1967. Then, Berkshire Hathaway was in need of financial support and Goldman Sachs was one of the few which would assist them. Warren has a long memory and is loyal. Regarding Goldman Sachs Preferred Stock which Berkshire Hathaway owns, Buffet explained, “ pays $20 million a year. That’s 15 dollars per second. Tick.Tick.Tick. Even when I sleep. Tick.Tick.Tick. I love it! Goldman probably wished they didn’t sell us that.”

Warren and Charlie are the best comedy act I’ve seen in a while. They don’t talk about alot of statistics, or use excessive financial jargon but give quick explanations. I believe over the decades their goal has been not to put people to sleep. Approximately 37 thousand people attended the meeting and weekend events. The roughly 5 hours of questions by audience members and 3 selected news reporters, during the meeting could have exhausted younger executives. As Warren and Charlie answered questions, they munched on See’s Candies a Berkshire owned company, and had at hand Coca-Cola beverages, which they are heavily invested. Later that evening, some folks enjoyed tasty pulled pork sandwiches and more Coke products at the Berkyville Picnic located at Buffet’s 78 acre Nebraska Furniture Mart. I later checked out the Omaha art scene which reminded me a bit of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg. Sunday, I unfortunately missed the Borsheims brunch food which had run out. However enjoyed the open bar. The open bar started approximately 9 am. So, many people I’m sure did not mind or remember If they ate or not. I again met Susan Jacques, CEO of Borsheims Jewelry, who remembered me from our first meeting this past January in New York. That evening I met with new friends for the Gorat’s Restaurant Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Dinner. Yes, Gorat’s has an old school charm about it. So it’s not for everyone. However It is Buffets favorite place to dine including steak dinners ranging from $25 to $30. Warren Buffet’s sons Peter Buffet, musician and author and Howard Buffet, farmer are also philanthropists and spoke at other venues about their commitment to charities in the US and around the world. If you’re hungry for a german view on Berkshire Hathaway, checkout the brilliant writing of Norbert Kuls of the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine, who briefly interviewed me in Omaha. Below are a few of Warren and Charlie’s pearls of wisdom.

-People and Human nature
Warren Buffet- “We don’t know our own potential.”
“We will see financial mayhem from time to time.”

Warren Buffet-“I will never sell a share of Berkshire Hathaway.”
Charlie Munger-“Celebrate wealth only when its been fairly won and well used.”

-Berkshire Hathaway’s company style
Charlie Munger-“We have a company that’s peculiar and we like it that way.” “Warren doesn’t look at anyone twice who isn’t a little eccentric. And you’re lookin’ at that up here.”

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