- Warren Buffett celebrated his 92nd birthday on Tuesday, Aug. 30.
- The investor dreads the yearly occasion, as he hates getting older and doesn’t care about gifts.
- Buffett aims to compound his wealth and gather great friends, like a snowball rolling down a hill.
Warren Buffett, who turned 92 on Tuesday, dreads his birthday every year. Yet the legendary stockpicker and Berkshire Hathaway CEO knows there’s no going back, so he focuses on making the absolute most of the time he has left.
The fabulously wealthy yet famously frugal investor enjoys the flood of birthday cards, gifts, and letters that descends on Berkshire’s headquarters every year, but he’s never ecstatic about the occasion.
“Buffett was far from jaded, but it was hard to thrill a multibillionaire — one who didn’t want to be a year older and cared nothing about possessions — with a birthday gift,” Alice Schroeder writes in “The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life.”
The author and former insurance analyst noted that Buffett appreciated heartfelt letters and reminders of his past exploits, but he had filled an entire floor of hallways with memorabilia from his life. Meanwhile, she described the approach of each birthday as a “metronomic tick of doom” for Buffett, who was always shocked by his advancing age, and desperate to delay the inevitable, given he had so much more he wished to do.
“The years ahead weren’t endless, but with luck they could be long,” Schroeder wrote. “Another new person, another investment, another idea always waited for him. The things left to learn far exceeded what he already knew.”
Buffett compares his approach to life to a snowball rolling down a hill, both in terms of compounding his investment gains and wealth over time, and in collecting the best friends he can along the way.
“You’d better be picking up snow as you go along, because you’re not going to be getting back up to the top of the hill again,” he told Schroeder. “That’s the way life works.”
Over his 92 years, Buffett has amassed a $100 billion fortune — even after donating half of his Berkshire stock to good causes. He’s also built one of the world’s most valuable companies, acquired iconic businesses such as Geico and See’s Candies, built multibillion-dollar stakes in public companies such as Apple and Coca-Cola, and transformed how many organizations are structured and run.
“The snowball he had created so carefully was enormous by now,” Schroeder writes. “Yet his attitude toward it remained the same.
“However many birthdays lay ahead, he would always be astonished each time the calendar turned, and as long as he lived, he would never stop feeling like a sprout.
“For he wasn’t looking backward to the top of the hill. It was a big world, and he was just starting out.”
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