52 Must Read Quotes from Legendary Investor – Warren Buffett

by Investing School on December 10, 2008

Warren Buffett is without question the most successful investor of our time (and possibly of all time).  His savvy deal making abilities coupled with his creative and cheerful personality allowed him to achieve success like no other.

While searching the web for the comments he’s made through the years, I found many insightful comments that truly show off Mr. Buffett’s knowledge so I want to share 52 of these with you below!  Let me know what you think!

  1. A public-opinion poll is no substitute for thought.
  2. Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.
  3. I always knew I was going to be rich. I don’t think I ever doubted it for a minute.
  4. I am quite serious when I say that I do not believe there are, on the whole earth besides, so many intensified bores as in these United States. No man can form an adequate idea of the real meaning of the word, without coming here.
  5. I buy expensive suits. They just look cheap on me.
  6. I don’t have a problem with guilt about money. The way I see it is that my money represents an enormous number of claim checks on society. It’s like I have these little pieces of paper that I can turn into consumption. If I wanted to, I could hire 10,000 people to do nothing but paint my picture every day for the rest of my life. And the GNP would go up. But the utility of the product would be zilch, and I would be keeping those 10,000 people from doing AIDS research, or teaching, or nursing. I don’t do that though. I don’t use very many of those claim checks. There’s nothing material I want very much. And I’m going to give virtually all of those claim checks to charity when my wife and I die.
  7. I don’t look to jump over 7-foot bars: I look around for 1-foot bars that I can step over.
  8. I never attempt to make money on the stock market. I buy on the assumption that they could close the market the next day and not reopen it for five years.
  9. If a business does well, the stock eventually follows.
  10. If past history was all there was to the game, the richest people would be librarians.
  11. If you’re in the luckiest 1 per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent.
  12. In the business world, the rear view mirror is always clearer than the windshield.
  13. Investors making purchases in an overheated market need to recognize that it may often take an extended period for the value of even an outstanding company to catch up with the price they paid.
  14. It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.
  15. It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.
  16. It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.
  17. I’ve reluctantly discarded the notion of my continuing to manage the portfolio after my death – abandoning my hope to give new meaning to the term ‘thinking outside the box.’
  18. Let blockheads read what blockheads wrote.
  19. Look at market fluctuations as your friend rather than your enemy; profit from folly rather than participate in it.
  20. Long ago, Sir Isaac Newton gave us three laws of motion, which were the work of genius. But Sir Isaac’s talents didn’t extend to investing: He lost a bundle in the South Sea Bubble, explaining later, ‘I can calculate the movement of the stars, but not the madness of men.’ If he had not been traumatized by this loss, Sir Isaac might well have gone on to discover the Fourth Law of Motion: For investors as a whole, returns decrease as motion increases
  21. Most people get interested in stocks when everyone else is. The time to get interested is when no one else is. You can’t buy what is popular and do well.
  22. Never count on making a good sale. Have the purchase price be so attractive that even a mediocre sale gives good results.
  23. Of the billionaires I have known, money just brings out the basic traits in them. If they were jerks before they had money, they are simply jerks with a billion dollars.
  24. Only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years.
  25. Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.
  26. Our favorite holding period is forever.
  27. Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.
  28. Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.
  29. Risk is a part of God’s game, alike for men and nations.
  30. Rule No.1: Never lose money. Rule No.2: Never forget rule No.1.
  31. Wall Street is the only place that people ride to work in a Rolls Royce to get advice from those who take the subway.
  32. The business schools reward difficult complex behavior more than simple behavior, but simple behavior is more effective.
  33. The investor of today does not profit from yesterday’s growth.
  34. The line separating investment and speculation, which is never bright and clear, becomes blurred still further when most market participants have recently enjoyed triumphs. Nothing sedates rationality like large doses of effortless money. After a heady experience of that kind, normally sensible people drift into behavior akin to that of Cinderella at the ball. They know that overstaying the festivities — that is, continuing to speculate in companies that have gigantic valuations relative to the cash they are likely to generate in the future — will eventually bring on pumpkins and mice. But they nevertheless hate to miss a single minute of what is one helluva party. Therefore, the giddy participants all plan to leave just seconds before midnight. There’s a problem, though: They are dancing in a room in which the clocks have no hands.
  35. The only time to buy these is on a day with no “y” in it.
  36. The smarter the journalists are, the better off society is. For to a degree, people read the press to inform themselves-and the better the teacher, the better the student body.
  37. There are all kinds of businesses that Charlie and I don’t understand, but that doesn’t cause us to stay up at night. It just means we go on to the next one, and that’s what the individual investor should do.
  38. There seems to be some perverse human characteristic that likes to make easy things difficult.
  39. Time is the friend of the wonderful company, the enemy of the mediocre.
  40. Value is what you get.
  41. We believe that according the name ‘investors’ to institutions that trade actively is like calling someone who repeatedly engages in one-night stands a ‘romantic.’
  42. We don’t get paid for activity, just for being right. As to how long we’ll wait, we’ll wait indefinitely.
  43. We enjoy the process far more than the proceeds.
  44. We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful.
  45. We’ve long felt that the only value of stock forecasters is to make fortune tellers look good. Even now, Charlie and I continue to believe that short-term market forecasts are poison and should be kept locked up in a safe place, away from children and also from grown-ups who behave in the market like children.
  46. When a management team with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for bad economics, it is the reputation of the business that remains intact.
  47. Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.
  48. Why not invest your assets in the companies you really like? As Mae West said, “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful”.
  49. Wide diversification is only required when investors do not understand what they are doing.
  50. You do things when the opportunities come along. I’ve had periods in my life when I’ve had a bundle of ideas come along, and I’ve had long dry spells. If I get an idea next week, I’ll do something. If not, I won’t do a damn thing.
  51. You only have to do a very few things right in your life so long as you don’t do too many things wrong.
  52. Your premium brand had better be delivering something special, or it’s not going to get the business

His savvy deal making abilities coupled with his creative and cheerful personality allowed him to achieve stock market success like no other.  So it’s really no luck that he’s named the wealthiest man of 2008 and hope that you’ve learned something from these quotes.  Which one is your favorite?  Personally, I really like #30 – Never lose money!

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Hemang Bavishi August 16, 2011 at 12:22 am

I like “I always knew I was going to be rich. I don’t think I ever doubted it for a minute.”..

It is fantastic and gives us tremendous level of confidence.


Pyrra September 10, 2011 at 12:01 pm

the best thing about these quotes is that they sound even better when taken out of context.
the guy deserves a place in the Westminster Abbey.


emil November 7, 2011 at 6:04 am

another of buffett’s:

It is better to be approximately right than precisely wrong.


Roland January 6, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Thank you these quotes saved a mans life today. Now I know I have made the best investment of all, it’s in the friends and family I have, and I may not die rich but at least I’ll die with friends and love, and that’s worth a lifetime; thanks again. BTW I like number 11! too bad most don’t see it like that because the world could be a much better place.


Jay of NC February 2, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Wow, Enjoyed these of what he says. From the Days of Selling Newspapers in Omaha to The Pinnicle of Life’s Highest. Reminds me of Days, Yes Selling Papers myself In Lincoln, Nebraska as a small Child when my Dad was stationed at LAFB. JJ, Ret (Twice) US Army.


Darshana February 27, 2012 at 1:51 am

I fully agree,
It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.
It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.


Krishna Rao March 20, 2012 at 4:46 am

#8 is the one that always holds true.


J.MacAuslan June 7, 2012 at 9:40 pm

Good grief, the best one is obviously Mae West’s! This not only reminds that there is more to life than money (well, there’s at least ONE thing more to life than money, if we’re focusing on her ;-). It also reminds us that someone can be a first-rate investor, a first-rate writer, and a person who knows something of both culture and wit.


J.MacAuslan June 7, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Are you sure about #4? I don’t recall reading that from him previously, and the style doesn’t seem like his.


Mahesh pandey August 19, 2012 at 12:49 am

I agree we should start investing as soon as possible and make it our habit. Warren have started investing when he was just 13 and he feels it was too late.


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