Friday, March 10, 2006

Buffett the Wordsmith

Much has been written about the Berkshire Hathaway's 2005 shareholder's letter. Plenty of newsprint have been devoted to analysing the profiles of possible successors to Mr. Buffett's legacy after it was announced that the replacement has been agreed upon unanimously. Reports covering his comments on managerial compensation and risks of derivatives have made the business pages too. With so much already written, there probably isn't much left to write about.

Instead, we choose to take a light hearted look at the shareholder's letter to pick up interesting analogies which Mr. Buffett loves to pepper his message with. At the end of this short exercise, we can only conclude that Mr. Buffett has scored a home-run with his choice of examples and words.

To describe not being able to do two things simultaneously. [pg 4 of shareholder's letter]
"...elderly couple who had been romantically challenged for some time. As they finished dinner on their 50th anniversary, however, the wife – stimulated by soft music, wine and candlelight – felt a long-absent tickle and demurely suggested to her husband that they go upstairs and make love. He agonized for a moment and then replied, “I can do one or the other, but not both.”

To describe over optimism [pg 8]
"...behave like the fellow in a switchblade fight who, after his opponent has taken a mighty swipe at his throat, exclaimed, “You never touched me.” His adversary’s reply: “Just wait until you try to shake your head.”"

To describe the importance of attitude of managers [pg 14]
the young man who married a tycoon’s only child, a decidedly homely and dull lass. Relieved, the father called in his new son-in-law after the wedding and began to discuss the future:
“Son, you’re the boy I always wanted and never had. Here’s a stock certificate for 50% of the company. You’re my equal partner from now on.”
“Thanks, dad.”
“Now, what would you like to run? How about sales?”
“I’m afraid I couldn’t sell water to a man crawling in the Sahara.”
“Well then, how about heading human relations?”
“I really don’t care for people.”
“No problem, we have lots of other spots in the business. What would you like to do?”
“Actually, nothing appeals to me. Why don’t you just buy me out?”



Post a Comment

<< Home