Warren Buffett’s 25 best quotes of all time

Warren Buffett is widely acknowledged as the “world’s greatest investor.” The CEO of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A, BRK-B) has a knack for identifying winning businesses and he is also quite the philosopher, earning him the nickname the “Oracle of Omaha.” 

With a net worth of about $74 billion, he is the fourth richest person in the world according to Bloomberg.

And so, when Buffett speaks, people listen.

Through his letters, essays, op-eds and TV appearances, Buffett shares folksy, funny, plainspoken advice on investing, management, life and everything in between.

On Saturday May 2, Buffett will share more wisdom at the 2020 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder Meeting. Unlike previous years, shareholders will not attend the event in person, but investors of all ovr the worlld can watch the event stream live on Yahoo Finance.

Here’s a look back at 25 of Buffett’s best quips, tips, and adages the editors of Yahoo Finance dug up from meeting transcripts, shareholder letters, and interviews.

1. Invest in companies you believe in. 
“It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.” 
— Letter to shareholders, 1989

2. Price and value aren’t always the same: Don’t pay too much. 
“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”
— Letter to shareholders, 2008

3. Reputation is everything.
It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” 
— CNBC, 2017

4. Be skeptical. If something looks too good to be true …
“A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful.”
The New York Times, Oct. 16, 2008 

5. Don’t invest in something you don’t understand.
The important thing is to know what you know and know what you don’t know.”
Haaretz, March 23, 2011

6. Don’t do a deal with someone you don’t trust.
“You cannot make a good deal with a bad person.”
— Interview with CNBC, 2019

Philanthropist Warren Buffett is joined onstage by 24 other philanthropist and influential business people featured on the Forbes list of 100 Greatest Business Minds during the Forbes Media Centennial Celebration at Pier 60 on September 19, 2017 in New York City. (Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage)

7. Easy peasy. Don’t buy a stock unless you think it’s undervalued.
“Just buy something for less than it’s worth.”
— Lecture to Notre Dame faculty, 1991 

8. Price dips are a good chance to increase your positions.
“Whether we’re talking about socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down.”
— Letter to shareholders, 2009 

9. The future is never clear.
“Uncertainty actually is the friend of the buyer of long-term values.”
Forbes, Aug. 6, 1979 

10. It’s usually the buyer who encounters unpleasant surprises. 
“As in the case with marriage, business acquisitions often deliver surprise after the ‘I do’s.’”
— Letter to shareholders, 2016

11. Ignore short-term movement in stock prices. Buffett is a firm believer that everyday investors park their money in index funds rather than in individual stocks.
“Wall Street makes its money on activity. You make your money on inactivity.”
— Colloquium at the University of Florida, Oct. 15, 1998

12. Use a bucket not a spoon.
“Every decade or so, dark clouds will fill the economic skies, and they will briefly rain gold.”
— Letter to shareholders, 2016

13. Seize an opportunity while you can.
“Don’t pass up something that’s attractive today because you think you will find something better tomorrow.”
— Speech at Columbia University, Nov. 12, 2009

14. Cool heads prevail. 
“The sillier the market’s behavior, the greater the opportunity for the businesslike investor.”
— Preface, The Intelligent Investor, 2003

15. It’s during hard times that the winners — and losers — get exposed.
“You only learn who has been swimming naked when the tide goes out.”
— Letter to shareholders, Feb. 2003

16. Read and think A LOT. Buffett spends the majority of his day — 80% — reading and thinking. 
“The best way to think about investments is to be in a room with no one else and to just think. If that doesn’t work, nothing else is going to work.”
— Colloquium at the University of Florida, Oct. 15, 1998

17. Buffett has long said it doesn’t take a high IQ to be successful in business — knowledge is more valuable.
“What we do is not beyond anyone else’s competence. I feel the same way about managing that I do about investing: It’s just not necessary to do extraordinary things to get extraordinary results.”
Fortune, April 11, 1988

18. Despite his immense success, Buffett’s still made some bad bets over the years. Nevertheless, he stays focused:
“Rule No. 1 is never lose money. Rule No. 2 is never forget Rule No. 1.”
Fortune, Feb. 6, 2017. 

19. Keep this in mind If you’re looking for a board position:
“When seeking directors, CEOs don’t look for pit bulls. It’s the cocker spaniel that gets taken home.”
— Letter to shareholders, 2019

20. The most important quality for an investor is temperament, not intellect. If you want to work at Berkshire, you need integrity, intelligence and energy.
“Our experience with newly-minted MBAs has not been that great. … It’s difficult to teach a new dog old tricks.”
Letter to Shareholders, 1988

21. Buffett is a big believer in America. Don’t bet against American ingenuity. 
“It’s always been a mistake to bet against America, since 1776.
— CNBC, 2011

22. With the exception of loving his private jet, Buffett is famously frugal and has lived in the same house since 1958.
“I have every possession I want. I have a lot of friends who have a lot more possessions. But in some cases, I feel the possession possesses them, rather than the other way around.”
CBS News, Feb. 8 2012

23. Buffett wants his three children to make their own contributions to society.
“A very rich person should leave his kids rich enough to do anything but not enough to do nothing.”
Fortune, June 25, 2006

24. From a letter promising to give away more than 99% of his wealth to philanthropic causes during his lifetime or at his death … 
“My wealth has come from a combination of living in America, some lucky genes, and compound interest.
— The Giving Pledge, 2006

25. A person’s best asset is him or herself.
“Your best investment is yourself. There is nothing that compares to it.”
— Georgia Tech alumni magazine, 2013

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