Monday, November 1, 2010

Alice Schroeder Interview

Unless you live under a rock you've heard of Simoleon Sense and its founder Miguel. Well Miguel recently interviewed Alice Schroeder (the controversial author of the Snowball) and I think you'd enjoy it.

If you're a book nut, like me, in the interview Alice recommends: Snakes In Suits, Den of Thieves, The Craft of Interviewing, The Zen of Listening, and The Moral Animal.

Miguel: Start  by explaining what was special about your experience with The Snowball.
Alice: When we discussed doing this interview, a theme that emerged was the hidden world of people like Warren Buffett, people who are in the top tenth of one percent of society in terms of fame, money, and connections, and how little most of us know of that world and its hierarchy and norms. Instinctively, you know that Snookie doesn’t go to parties with Bob Iger and Willow Bay (Disney CEO and his wife, a television host), but the more granular distinctions aren’t self-evident. For example, how valuable a form of social currency strong political connections in Washington can be, not because of their actual importance, but because they bring you reliably fresh and impressive-sounding conversational material to use at dinner parties.
Even once inside a person’s world, getting to know their life history and psyche takes years, and that’s even more true of an important public figure because they’re so self-protective. Warren is so remote that his inner world has been accessible only to a tiny handful of people over the course of his lifetime, even though so many people are acquainted with him and consider him a friend. That makes it all the more unusual that he made himself world accessible to me and wanted me to write about him.
He spent a huge amount, I’ve estimated 2,000 hours, of concentrated time with me, and through this direct experience I gleaned impressions of him. These could be compared to his own self-perception, to the impressions of hundreds of other people whom I interviewed, and to the documented history of his life as contained in his papers and letters and photographs from more than 70 years of collected material.
Nobody who has ever known him has had this 360 degree perspective. There are people who know more facts about him, but nobody else has a well-synthesized a view. I probably know him better than anyone, in this objective sense.
Read the rest