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Berkshire Beyond Buffett: The Enduring Value of Values (Columbia Business School Publishing) [Kindle Edition]

Lawrence A. Cunningham
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Berkshire Hathaway, the $300+ billion conglomerate that Warren Buffett built, is among the world's largest and most famous corporations. Yet, for all its power and celebrity, few people understand Berkshire, and many assume it cannot survive without Buffett. This book challenges that assumption.

In a comprehensive portrait of the corporate culture that unites Berkshire's subsidiaries, Lawrence Cunningham unearths the traits that assure the conglomerate's perpetual prosperity. Riveting stories of each subsidiary's origins, triumphs, and journey to Berkshire reveal how managers generate economic value from intangibles like thrift, integrity, entrepreneurship, autonomy, and a sense of permanence.

Berkshire Beyond Buffett explores not only what will happen to Berkshire after Buffett, but presents all of Berkshire behind Buffett, the inspiring managerial luminaries, innovative entrepreneurs, and devotees of deep values that define this esteemed organization.

Whether or not you are convinced that Berkshire can endure without Buffett, the book is full of management lessons for small and large businesses, entrepreneurs, family firms, and Fortune 500 CEOs. Enjoy entertaining tales from Berkshire's 50 main subsidiaries, including Dairy Queen, GEICO, Benjamin Moore, Fruit of the Loom, BNSF, Justin, Pampered Chef, Marmon, Clayton Homes, FlightSafety, and more.

Editorial Reviews


"An invaluable read for entrepreneurs, business leaders, investors, managers and anyone wanting to learn more about corporate stewardship."
(The Economist)

"How did Warren Buffett build such a great firm as Berkshire Hathaway? To unravel this mystery, Lawrence Cunningham takes a deep dive inside the cultures of Berkshire's subsidiaries, highlighting the value of integrity, kinship, and autonomy -- and revealing how building moats around the castles may help the firm outlast its visionary founder."
Adam Grant, Wharton professor and author of Give and Take

"Berkshire's trajectory has been so seamless that Warren's professional transition has gone almost unnoticed. The man who began business life as a precocious 'stock picker' has morphed into chief executive of one of the largest collections of businesses in the world. Larry's book astutely chronicles this development."
From the Foreword by Tom Murphy, former CEO, Capital Cities/ABC

"Lawrence Cunningham was Warren Buffett's pick for cataloging and organizing Berkshire's famous annual reports. Now Cunningham has taken us in a new direction, inside the companies of Berkshire Hathaway. Berkshire Beyond Buffett is an insightful and important book."
Robert Hagstrom, author of The Warren Buffett Way

"Fascinating . . . biography of both Buffett and Berkshire."
 Don Dion, Seeking Alpha

"An extraordinary portrait of the fifty direct subsidiaries of Berkshire Hathaway, investment guru Warren Buffett's $300 billion conglomerate, told through the companies' distinct stories and the vital values like integrity, autonomy, entrepreneurship and a sense of permanence that they, and Buffett, share."
David Slocum, Forbes

"Berkshire Beyond Buffett is a great deep dive into Berkshire’s portfolio and Buffett’s theories of management. Furthermore, the book breaks ground by showing Buffett to be an exceptional manager, and not just a legendary investor."

About the Author

Lawrence A. Cunningham, editor and publisher since 1997 of The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America, is the Henry St. George Tucker III Research Professor at George Washington University. Cunningham's dozen books include The AIG Story and How to Think Like Benjamin Graham and Invest Like Warren Buffett. His extensive writings, on a wide range of business and legal topics, appear in leading university journals as well as periodicals such as The Baltimore Sun, Directors & Boards, The Financial Times, The New York Post, and The New York Times

Product Details

  • File Size: 1247 KB
  • Print Length: 334 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0231170041
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (October 21, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231170041
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231170048
  • ASIN: B00K33E460
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,621 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Berkshire Beyond Buffett is a must read not just for Buffett fans, but for anyone who wants to understand where business is headed. Far ahead of his peers in academia, Larry Cunningham came to the realization that Warren Buffett has lessons to teach that go far beyond business and investing, and which are valid for a far broader audience than just the Berkshire crowd.

This books takes the reader deep into the culture of Berkshire Hathaway and shows how a seemingly disparate group of businesses share a remarkable and deeply enduring common culture.

The rest of us can benefit greatly from studying and seeking to emulate that culture in our own lives and this book serves as a wonderful and eminently readable resource and jumping off point.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
In his brilliant Introduction to the Second Edition of The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America, Lawrence Cunningham observes, "The CEOs of Berkshire's various operating companies enjoy a unique position in corporate America. They are given a simple set of commands: to run their business as if (1) they are its sole owner, (2) it is the only asset they hold, and (3) they can never sell or merge it for a hundred years." With regard to investment thinking, "one must guard against what Buffett calls the `institutional imperative.' It is a pervasive force in which institutional dynamics produce resistance to change, absorption of available corporate funds, and reflexive approval of suboptimal CEO strategies by subordinates. Contrary to what is often taught in business and law schools, this powerful force often interferes with rational business decision-making. The ultimate result of the institutional imperative is a follow-the-pack mentality producing industry imitators, rather than industry leaders -- what Buffett calls a lemming-like approach to business."

Consider these observations as you now share Cunningham's thoughts about Buffett's successor, suggesting that the most important trait as chief executive officer "is a knowledgeable commitment to Berkshire culture, including permanence, autonomy, and acquisitiveness. Therefore, the best candidates are insiders, those now managing Berkshire subsidiaries, as Berkshire's succession plan contemplates. Among these candidates, especially promising are individuals with strengths like lengthy service history at Berkshire; proficiency leading its largest, most sprawling operations; and experience running subsidiaries bearing most of the specific traits that constitute Berkshire culture.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Another Book Review From The Aleph Blog October 29, 2014
(Note: links are available at the Aleph Blog)

It’s time to change what Warren Buffett supposedly said about his mentors:

“I’m 85% Ben Graham, and 15% Phil Fisher.”

For those who don’t know, Ben Graham is regarded to be the father of value investing, and Phil Fisher the father of growth investing. Trouble is, Warren Buffett changed in his career such that this is no longer accurate. Most of Buffett’s economic activity does not stem from buying and selling portions of public companies, but by buying and managing whole companies. Buffett is the manager of a conglomerate that uses insurance reserves as a funding vehicle.

As a result, this would be more accurate about the modern Buffett:

Buffett is 70% Henry Singleton, 15% Ben Graham, and 15% Phil Fisher.

Henry Singleton was the CEO of Teledyne, a very successful conglomerate, and one of the few to do well over a long period of time. It is very difficult to manage a conglomerate, but Teledyne survived for around 40 years, and was very profitable. Buffett thought highly of Singleton as a allocator of capital, though the conglomerate that Buffett created is very different than Teledyne.

Tonight, I am reviewing a book that describes Buffett as a manager of a special conglomerate called Berkshire Hathaway [BRK] — Berkshire Beyond Buffett. This Buffett book is different, because it deals with the guts of how Buffett created BRK the company, and not the typical and misleading Buffett as a value investor.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
If you purchase Berkshire Beyond Buffett by Lawrence A. Cunningham (Columbia Business School 2014) with the goal of getting a simple answer to the question of who succeeds Warren Buffett you will not be disappointed. Better yet, if you want to study the reason why Berkshire has become the most successful “orphanage for the corporate homeless” (p. 155) in history, get this book. The question whether Berkshire-Hathaway should or can exist beyond the mortal tenure of its founder and Chairman, Warren Buffet matters most to the Berkshire family of companies which includes $300 Billion conglomerate over 425 operating subsidiaries (compared to GE’s 300 business units). Be prepared for an exhaustive review of nine core values of the Berkshire Way. Whether you are an analyst, executive, CEO hopeful, board member or Berkshire devotee, I know of no other book so comprehensive in its discussion of what makes Berkshire’s operating companies successful; and, by consequence, Berkshire successful beyond its Chairman.

If you are searching for a quick answer to the question of who next sits in Buffett’s office, the first mention of any successor comes at page 53. The next mention comes some forty pages later at which point, lifelong Buffett scholar, Professor Larry Cunningham, says that David Sokol was on the short list to succeed Buffet and then removed. Explaining why Sokol is not a candidate for succession (beyond the obvious of being dismissed), the reader is already nodding in agreement that any compromise to the Berkshire values of integrity and Berkshire brand sanctity, are unacceptable in crowning a prince. And, this is the rub of the book: Berkshire is a collection of values disseminated throughout the organization that transcend its Chairman or any one person.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 15 days ago by Corrine A.
3.0 out of 5 stars Very good
A very good history of the various companies acquired by BRK. But also sorely lacking in two areas. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Victor Christianson
4.0 out of 5 stars A blueprint to learn from
Hopefully this book can do for corporate culture and creating value what William Thorndike’s Outsiders did for share buybacks and “value creation”. Read more
Published 1 month ago by investingbythebooks
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by louard
5.0 out of 5 stars OUTSTANDING. 00
Outstanding. Equivalent to a graduate level course in business.
Published 2 months ago by Picky computer user
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for students of Buffett or business in general
I enjoyed reading this book that focuses on an area of Berkshire Hathaway that has to date been less discussed. Read more
Published 2 months ago by scott wu
5.0 out of 5 stars Should you pick up another Buffett book with 50 already out there?...
Here are three reasons that Cunningham add a valuable and differentiated contribution to the Berkshire literature in a very enjoyable read:

1) Unique Access - After... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Akshay M
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but where are the analysis?
This book has several stories of some of the companies that Warren Buffett has decided to purchase.

It delves into their histories and why they were deemed worthy of... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Jaewoo Kim
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Husband was happy to get this book!
Published 4 months ago by Lucky's Blu
4.0 out of 5 stars Some great lessons are to be learned
Some great lessons are to be learned about how great businesses are built and how Berkshire has become the home of so many of them. Read more
Published 4 months ago by John G. Griffin
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More About the Author

Lawrence Cunningham's dozen books include Berkshire Beyond Buffett: The Enduring Value of Values, a "hot new title" Amazon says, and The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America, which Cunningham self-published into an international best-seller translated into a dozen languages.

Cunningham loves teaching, writing, reading, running, biking, swimming, and spending time with his wife and two daughters, especially at the beach. At George Washington University, he teaches business law to promote deal-making and transaction design that keeps everyone out of court--the last place he believes any business person should be.

An apolitical and accessible sort, Cunningham's writings appear in trade magazines like Directors & Boards, university journals like the Columbia Law Review, blogs, and mainstream media such as the New York Times and the Financial Times.


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