Warren Buffett is famous for saying that he does not invest in Tech companies because he doesn’t understand them and cannot predict what they will do in ten years.  He may be a whiz with stocks and insurance companies, but can a Techie like myself really learn a lot of value from him?  Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Warren Buffett Experience with a group of MBAs from BC and five other schools.  I met the Oracle himself and we had a 2 hour Q&A (with a tasty chicken parm thereafter).  It turns out the answer to my question is a resounding YES!  Buffett spoke very little about investing in particular and more about general business and life lessons as applicable to Tech as they are to Textiles (the business from which his Berkshire-Hathaway holding company gets its name).  I have pages upon pages of notes but will do my best to summarize some of the highlights here.

BC MBA group with Warren Buffett
BC MBA group with Warren Buffett

The Biggest Mistake You Can Make Is Not Using Your Skills And Talents To Their Full Potential

Buffett spent a lot of time highlighting the fact that we had all won the ovarian lottery just by virtue of having the minds, opportunities, families, etc. that allowed us to be in that room.  In light of this, he told us he never really worries about mistakes–that it would be a mistake to complain about anything when you’ve already won on 80:1 odds at birth.  He highlighted a failure to use your skills and talents to their full potential as one of the few real mistakes you can make.  In today’s tech world especially, there are almost limitless free resources out there to make any idea a reality.  Likewise, we have developed a culture that encourages trying, failing, and learning, over the safer routes.  With opportunities like this, the biggest mistake we can make is not following our passions and starting a company, joining a startup, or otherwise following our passion.  Buffett suggested taking the job you would choose if money were not a concern–for many of us, that means the startup world.

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