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Life Is What You Make It: Find Your Own Path to Fulfillment Paperback – May 3, 2011
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J.P. Morgan Private Bank's Summer Reading List Pick, 2010
“Peter Buffett has given us a wise and inspiring book that should be required reading for every young person seeking to find his or her place in the world, and for every family hoping to give its daughters and sons the best possible start in life.”
–President Bill Clinton
"Knowing and admiring Peter as we do, LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT captures his spirit, passion, and values beautifully. As parents, it’s the kind of dialogue about our life’s purpose and opportunity we’re having with our children. We will have everyone in our family read and discuss LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT ."
–Bill & Melinda Gates
"With home-spun, heart-felt wisdom, Peter Buffett ponders how to make a meaningful life, while making a living. LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT is thought-provoking, worthwhile reading."
"LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT is the ultimate book of commonsense -- except it isn't common. Because Peter Buffett could have had a derived identity and chose not to, he has power and credibility when he tells us how to find a unique self by doing what we love. I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't benefit from this spirited, wise, and friendly book."
"In his searching book, LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT, Peter Buffett challenges us all to balance ambition and service, personal goals and work for the common good. It is a book of value and honesty."
–Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
PETER BUFFETT is an Emmy Award-winning composer and producer and cochairman of the NoVo Foundation. Buffett began his career in San Francisco writing music for commercials. He has released albums on the Narada, Epic, and Hollywood labels, as well as six releases on his own label. His work in film includes the “Firedance” scene in the Oscar-winning film, Dances with Wolves. He lives in New York City.
Download a free collection of Peter’s music at: www.peterbuffett.com/PBMusic
Enter code: lifeiswhatyoumakeit
From the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
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That sums up a great deal of this book. To fill up 200+ pages, there are anecdotes about his own experiences, examples of people who exemplify--and others who scorn--his values, and consistently adoring depictions of his larger-than-life parents. Peter writes with great earnestness and comes across as a thoughtful man, albeit one who perhaps views his straightforward message as more revelatory than it really is.
Some parts of the book struck me as cloying, or even worse, not completely honest. He describes his time growing up as idyllic: a warm, loving family, a beautiful town with friendly neighbors. However, anyone who's read Lowenstein's biography of Warren Buffett knows that the children in the family were at times deeply wounded by their father's single-minded devotion to his work, and their moody grandmother would instantly bring the children to tears with her vicious rants. His rose-colored descriptions of his childhood thus don't ring entirely true, and this leads the reader to wonder what else has been glossed over.
This also shows the author's tendency to describe people in simplistic ways. His parents are paragons of love and wisdom. Various rich people he describes are poor parents who use money as a substitute for love with their children. Such depictions lack nuance and make those described seem more like cardboard cut-outs than real people. If Peter had been a bit more honest about some of the struggles he undoubtedly had with his parents while he was growing up and more fully fleshed out his descriptions of others he writes about, I think the book might have gotten beyond platitudes and addressed on a deeper level some of these big life issues that he aspires to illuminate.
The author goes to great lengths to describe how he's a regular person like the rest of us in spite of his privileged circumstances. To his and his parents' credit, Peter didn't receive monetary gifts as a young adult and has become a successful songwriter on his own. Then again, when you look on the back of this book and see enthusiastic quotes about it from Bill Clinton, Bono, Bill Gates, Gloria Steinem, and Ted Turner, you're reminded of how many advantages Peter has gotten by being the son of Warren. Then he writes of his billion-dollar foundation, funded by his father. Must be nice.
I'm sure Peter means it when he says that one shouldn't chase money and should do what one loves. But one thought might nag at you while you read this book: "Yeah, easy for *him* to say that!".
Peter explains his value system: the importance of education, family trust, work ethic vs. wealth ethic. He slams rich snobs who were born into their wealth but who believe they deserve it over random happenstance. Peter believes that we must try -- even if our efforts are puny -- to level the playing field.
Toward the middle of the book Buffet talks about the relative value of money vs. time. "...the path I did take was one I'd chosen for myself. Again, I was privileged to be able to buy the time needed to explore the particular approach to a career. But the point I'd like to make is this: There are many young people who are similarly privileged -- either in terms of money or of emotional support or some unique opportunity or talent -- yet who don't take advantage of the luxury of time, but barrel straight ahead into work lives that may or may not be fulfilling. Why do people do this?" Buffet then goes on to examine this question, in one of the best sections of the book.
Other things discussed in the book include the following: always work to do your best -- helps you grow both spiritually and professionally; the danger of wishes, and not being prepared to work or move beyond them; the dangers of raising kids among wealth -- do we think about what could be lost while acquiring wealth? The last part of the book talks about "giving back." This section is more than just about old rich people donating to charity. Buffet talks about the spiritual, social, and psychological benefits of philanthropy.
An excellent and thought provoking book.