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Happy Birthday, Warren Buffett, the “Oracle of Omaha”

August 30, 2010
by Isabel Cowles
Warren Buffett, was the richest man in the world in 2008. But despite his fortune, the American investor remains dedicated to the ethics of business by upholding the personal and financial standards he learned as a child in Nebraska.

Warren Buffett’s Early Days

Warren Edward Buffett was born on Aug. 30, 1930, in Omaha, Neb. He grew up with a knack for making money: at age 11, he bought his first stock in Cities Service. At 14, he bought some farmland in Nebraska and collected rent from a tenant farmer. He also ran a highly organized paper route and co-created Wilson Coin Operated Machine Co., a pinball machine business.

Buffett got his undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska after studying for several years at Wharton at the University of Pennsylvania. He then applied to Harvard Business Schoo,l but was rejected, ending up instead at Columbia. At Columbia Business School, Buffett met mentor Benjamin Graham, who taught him the strategy of investing based on a company’s intrinsic value.

Buffett’s Notable Accomplishments

Buffett officially became the richest man in the world in March of 2008. His fortune reached approximately $62 billion after a $10 billion increase last year.

Aside from earning the respect of fellow investors through his wealth, Buffett has also garnered attention for his sound principles and for his patient and ethical approach to investing.

According to a U.S. News and World Report profile from 2006, “Buffett focuses on companies with a sustainable competitive advantage and believes the quality of their leadership is integral to their value. Unlike the vast majority of acquirers, Buffett retains the management. A master evaluator of people, he asks them, ‘Do you love the business, or do you love the money?’”

Though Buffett has made his fortune investing in a wide variety of companies, his own venture, Berkshire Hathaway, is by far the most lucrative. Berkshire Hathaway’s subsidiary companies include International Dairy Queen, Inc., Geico Auto Insurance and See’s Candy.

The Rest of the Story

Perhaps one of Buffett’s biggest accomplishments is raising down to earth children. According to CNBC, the Buffet kids, Howard, Susie and Peter, “were never really aware their dad was anyone special. Howard says life was just like it was for all his friends.” Though each child will receive money to invest philanthropically, Buffett will not leave his kids huge personal inheritances.

On June 26, 2006, Buffett announced plans to give away much of his fortune to the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation. When the pledge was made it was valued at approximately $31 billion. It will be implemented in yearly installments under the condition that either Bill or Melinda Gates is alive, and that the foundation continues to “accelerate and deepen” its work, the foundation Web site explains.

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