I recently had the extraordinary opportunity to meet Warren Buffett, and to hear him speak in front of a small crowd. This dinner event was punctuated by an especially wonderful moment for me, in which I had the opportunity to ask Mr. Buffett a question. My question was, “How should we raise our children to be humble and hungry?” Incredibly, Mr. Buffett answered me directly for almost nine minutes. His answer focused on many topics but was centered around the idea of living a passionate life and surrounding yourself with people that you love. His thoughts were so special to me, that I wanted to share them with you.
You Can’t Buy Love or Time
Despite being 87 years old and one of the wealthiest people in the world, Mr. Buffett emphasized the importance of things that cannot be bought. Specifically, he said, “You can’t buy love or time.” Upon learning that I worked in a family business with my father, he said, “There is nothing like working with people that you love. Every day I get to do what I love with people that I love.” This concept of doing what you love with people that you love deeply resonated with me, as it reminded me so much of our Bozzuto Family. In the lexicon of today’s modern business, concepts like “love” and “family” are rarely mentioned.
However, at Bozzuto, they define us. As a family of more than 2,500, we share a passion to create the extraordinary for our clients, partners and residents. Our desire to make a difference in the lives of those that we touch is so profound, that it transcends our motivation to make profit alone. Instead, we are ignited by the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our customers. Furthermore, we understand that we are stronger together, and as “One Bozzuto” we have the leverage to move the world. We recognize that we don’t just build apartment buildings, we build communities. We build sanctuary. We build home. Best of all, we do this with people that we love.
Find Your Sistine Chapel
Mr. Buffett went on to describe how he felt that his and his colleagues’ work was his “Sistine Chapel.” This work is so beautiful and grand, that it can barely be contained in a lifetime; it is an unfinished masterpiece that needs their collective participation to achieve its full potential. I very much perceive our work at Bozzuto as our masterpiece. This masterpiece can be as beautiful and meaningful as the effort we put into it. What we are capable of, and where we go as an organization is entirely up to us. Our chances are great that our trajectory will be incredible, due to our love and respect for one another.
How Many People Love You?
Mr. Buffett finished by telling me a story about a Jewish woman from Poland whose family members had died in the Holocaust. Since the dark days of that atrocity, she had a hard time making deep friendships. Whenever she spoke to someone, she would look them in the eye and ask herself, “Would they hide me?” At the end of the day, how many people in your life would hide you How many people love you? Are you building trust with those around you?
With tremendous gratitude for the opportunities we have in front of us, we can be driven by this desire to do what is right and best. My rationale for asking Mr. Buffett about staying humble and hungry is that I believe these two characteristics are key tenets of a successful life. One allows you to live your life with modesty and respect for others, while the other gives you drive towards making a meaningful impact. By doing what you love with the people you love, striving to make your work meaningful and treating others in a way that would inspire their deepest confidence, you can make an impact. Together, let’s remain humble and hungry, and as a result, do our best to continue changing lives.