Friday, December 4, 2009

Warren rarely surprises me, and I nearly always understand his motives.

How did your own personal view of Buffett change from the first time you ever met him to the day "Snowball" was published—and how about as of today?

AS: If I could make one small adjustment to your introduction, Warren cooperated with me for The Snowball, but it was not an authorized biography. The latter means the subject has editorial control over the book.

When I knew Warren as an analyst he was an awe-inspiring, almost infallible-seeming figure. Fortunately he didn't care about the stock's rating, and I believe he might even have been perversely pleased had I put a sell rating on it, so that he could show off how little he cared and make a point about Wall Street. (I didn't, and it would have been a mistake to do that during the time I followed BRK).

Once I got to know him better he became real, fallible, even fragile. His achievements actually seem more impressive to me with hindsight. To start out in life with a family like his and accomplish what he has done is, in my opinion, a greater feat than the public generally gives him credit for. Whereas the hero-worship of Warren Buffett has been overdone, his real accomplishments are underappreciated.

Today, he seems the same person as when I finished the book. The test of whether you've done good research is how well you can predict and, more important, explain your subject's behavior. Warren rarely surprises me, and I nearly always understand his motives.

Read the rest of the interview