Learn from Warren Buffett's recommended reading list


The business magnate and investor says his number-one learning hack is to read good books.

Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s confidante and business partner, says that if you time Buffett with a stopwatch, half of his day would be spent reading. The other half of his time would be spent in conversation with highly gifted people. 

Munger explained that Buffett is a “learning machine”. Buffett is however a tough act to follow: an article in the Huffington Post reveals that he reads between 600 and 1,000 pages a day. 

Buffett is not the only successful leader who considers himself a bibliophile. Apparently when Elon Musk was asked how he learnt to build rockets, he said he read books. Bill Gates reads 50 books a year and took a yearly two-week reading break, while Barack Obama read for an hour each day while in office (and was undoubtedly the busiest person in the world!).  

If you do one thing to be a learning machine it’s reading quality material as often as you can (summaries on SparkNotes won’t do, nor will Google news digests). In fact, reading up on a broad range of topics on reputable news sites, like the Wall Street Journal, or The Atlantic will stand you in good stead. Buying a kindle is an excellent investment and if you have limitations relating to reading text, you can download books to listen to on Audible. And many news sites have their stories in an audio format. 

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Here are some titles on Warren Buffett’s recommended reading list to get you started:  

1. Essays in Persuasion, by John Maynard Keynes

Published last century, this collection of essays by Keynes – arguably one of the greatest economists of all time – is “required reading” according to Buffett. The book is a timeless analysis of securities and markets.

2. Dream Big, by Cristiane Correa

Correa tells the story of three Brazilians who founded 3G Capital, an investment firm that joined Buffett in purchasing HJ Heinz in 2013. Correa highlights the main principles of 3G’s management style – meritocracy and cost cutting. The company trusts in people to do their own work. 

3. The Art of War, by Sun Tzu

This book is not merely a collection of pithy proverbs. It’s a philosophy that can be embraced by every type of leader. Each time you read it, there’s something different to take from it. 

4. Don’t bring it to work, by Sylvia Lafair

Whatever is going on at home is going to be reflected in the work environment. This book will show that a company’s failure to deal with life patterns and circumstances is detrimental.

For other lessons in leadership,  visit the CFO SA Training page. You’ll qualify for a 10 percent discount on any of the listed courses if you sign up with the code CFO2018.

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