Warren Buffett’s Success Principles

Warren Buffett’s Success Principles

Delving into the insights and teachings of Warren Buffett, one of the world’s most successful investors and CEOs, offers an invaluable guide to personal and professional growth. Through a deep understanding of his core values and principles, we’re privy to a blueprint that outlines the path to financial success and, more importantly, to become individuals of high integrity, leadership, and effective communication skills. This journey into the ‘Oracle of Omaha’s’ mind can create a transformative shift in approaching success and self-improvement. Let’s unpack the wisdom that has propelled this man to the zenith of wealth, success, and respect.

Warren Buffett’s 10 Rules for Success

  1. Integrity Over Intellect and Energy
  2. Qualitative Factors Matter
  3. Recognize and Develop Admirable Qualities
  4. Avoid Negative Traits
  5. Behavior and Temperament Are Controllable
  6. Habits Are Crucial
  7. Emulate Those You Admire
  8. Invest in Yourself
  9. Consistent Learning is Crucial
  10. Effective Communication Skills are Essential

Warren Buffett’s Speech on Success

Below is the transcript of a speech Warren Buffet gave on success. [1]

“Most of you will succeed in meeting your aspirations, but in determining whether you succeed, there’s more to it than intellect and energy, and I’d like to talk for just a second about that. In fact, there was a fellow, Pinky in Omaha used to say he looked for three things in hiring people, ‘He looked for integrity, intelligence, and energy.’ He said if that person didn’t have the first two, the latter two would kill him because if they don’t have integrity, you want them dumb and lazy. You don’t want them smart and energetic. I really like to talk about that first one because we know you’ve got the second two.”

“And I’d like to play along with me a little game for just a second in terms of thinking about that question. You’ve all been here, I guess almost all of you are second-year MBAs, and you’ve got to know your classmates. Think for a moment that I granted you the right to buy 10% of one of your classmates for the rest of his or her lifetime. Now you can’t pick one with a rich father, that doesn’t count. You’ve got to pick somebody who’s going to do it on their own merit.”

“And I gave you an hour to think about it. Which one are you going to pick among all your classmates? The one you want to own 10% of for the rest of their lifetime? Are you going to give them an IQ test, would you pick the one with the highest IQ? I doubt it. Are you going to pick the one with the best grades? I doubt it. You’re not even going to pick the most energetic necessarily, nor the one that displays the most initiative. But you’re going to start looking for qualitative factors in addition because everybody’s got enough brains and enough energy.”

“And I would say that if you thought about it for an hour and decided who you’re gonna place that bet on, you’d probably pick the one who you responded the best to, the one that was going to have the leadership qualities, the one who’s going to be able to get other people to carry out their interests. That would be the person who was generous and honest and who gave credit to other people, even for their own ideas. All kinds of qualities like that.”

“And you could write down those qualities that you admire in this other person, whoever you admire most in the class. And then, I would throw in a hook. I would say as part of owning 10% of this person, you had to agree to go short 10% of somebody else in the class. Now that’s more fun, isn’t it? And you think, now who do I want to go short on? And again, you wouldn’t pick the person with the lowest IQ, you would start thinking about the person who really turned you off for one reason or another.”

“I mean, they have various qualities quite apart from their academic achievement. They have various qualities that you just really don’t want to be around them, and other people don’t want to be around them. What were the qualities that lead to that? Well, there’d be a whole bunch of things. It’s the person who’s egotistical, the person who’s greedy, the person who’s slightly dishonest, cuts corners, all of these qualities. And you could write those down on the right-hand side of the page.”

“And when you look at that, as you looked at those qualities on the left and right-hand side, there’s one interesting thing about them. It’s not the ability to throw a football 60 yards, it’s not the ability to run a 100-yard dash in 9.3 seconds, it’s not being the best-looking person in the class. They’re all qualities of behavior, temperament, and character that are achievable. They’re not forbidden to anybody in this group.”

“And if you look at the qualities on the right-hand side, the ones that you find turn you off in other people, there’s not a quality there that you have to have. If you have it, you can get rid of it. And you can get rid of it a lot easier at your age than you can at my age because most behaviors are habitual. They say the chains of habit are too light to be felt until they’re too heavy to be broken.”

“There’s no question about it. I see people with these self-destructive behavior patterns at my age, or even 10 or 20 years younger, and they really are entrapped by them. They go around, and they do things that turn off other people right and left. They don’t need to be that way, but by a certain point, they get so they can hardly change. But at your age, you can have any habits, any patterns of behavior that you wish. It’s simply a question of which you decide.”

“Ben Graham did this, as did Benjamin Franklin before him. Ben Graham, in his low teens, looked around and he looked at the people he admired. He said, ‘You know, I want to be admired. So why don’t I just behave like them?’ And he found there was nothing impossible about behaving like them. Similarly, he did the same thing on the reverse side in terms of getting rid of those qualities.”

“So I would suggest that if you write those qualities down and think about them a little while, and make them habitual, you will be the one that you want to buy 10% of when you get all through. And the beauty of it is you already hold 100 percent. You’re stuck with it. So you might as well be that person somebody else will want to invest in.”

Key Takeaways

  1. Integrity Over Intellect and Energy: The first thing to look for in people (and to develop within oneself) is integrity. Intelligence and energy without integrity can be harmful.
  2. Qualitative Factors Matter: When considering the potential for success, qualitative factors such as leadership qualities, honesty, and the ability to inspire others matter significantly, often more than traditional measures like grades or IQ.
  3. Recognize and Develop Admirable Qualities: Identify the qualities you admire in others and strive to develop them. These can range from being generous to giving credit to others to being a good leader.
  4. Avoid Negative Traits: Similarly, be aware of the negative traits that turn off others from you. These could include egotism, dishonesty, or a tendency to cut corners. Recognize these traits and make a conscious effort to avoid them.
  5. Behavior and Temperament Are Controllable: The qualities that lead to success or failure are not innate talents but controllable factors such as behavior, temperament, and character. These can be developed and refined over time.
  6. Habits Are Crucial: Most behavior is habitual, and the chains of habit are too light to be felt until they’re too heavy to be broken. Developing good habits early on is critical to long-term success.
  7. Emulate Those You Admire: If you admire certain people, nothing stops you from behaving like them. Similarly, if you dislike qualities in others, there’s no reason why you have to possess those qualities.
  8. Invest in Yourself: The best investment you can make is in yourself. Cultivate the qualities that make you someone you’d want to buy 10% off. Remember, you already own 100% of yourself, so it’s in your best interest to become the best person you can be.
  9. Consistent Learning: Continuous self-improvement through learning is key. This can involve adopting admirable qualities and avoiding negative ones.
  10. Effective Communication: Clear, persuasive communication is vital for leadership. It inspires others and helps them achieve goals.


In synthesizing the wisdom of Warren Buffett, the keystone to achieving success lies in the relentless pursuit of self-improvement. This entails a commitment to continual learning and cultivating virtues like honesty and leadership while avoiding negative traits. Central to this journey is clear, effective communication, which focuses on inspiring others and accomplishing objectives. Additionally, the emphasis on personal integrity supersedes all other qualities, underlining its role as the bedrock upon which lasting success is built. The road to success is within our control, anchored in the deliberate shaping of our behavior, character, and daily habits. In doing so, we invest in our greatest asset – ourselves.