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The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life Paperback – October 27, 2009
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This seems to be the first book that has delved into Buffett's complicated personal life as well, including a wife who cheated on him repeatedly, but whom he never lost his deep love for (and whom he readily admits he probably drove away with his preference for hiding away from family time with a copy of Moody's).
I think what makes Buffett most interesting is his humbleness (he flat out admits he got where he is in part because he's white and male) and ability to admit his wrongs. He certainly didn't always make the best business decisions - some were forehead-slapping bad - but he more than made up for it in the ones he got right and his unwavering devotion to a buy and hold equities philosophy. He's the anti-corporate raider, the anti-Gordon Gekko, and the anti-Trump.
What makes Snowball such a good book is that it lets its reader into Warren Buffett's world and shows the incredibly benefits and costs of focus. We all see the public face of Warren Buffett as the richest man in the world, drinking Cherry Coke, flying in a NetJets plane, playing bridge with Bill Gates and holding court at his annual meeting in Omaha. Those are the benefits of focus. What Schroeder shows us are the inevitable drawbacks of focus.
To succeed at a level anywhere near Buffett requires dedicating such a high percentage of your time and energy to one pursuit, that other things inevitably suffer. Without judgment, Schroeder shows the upside and downside of intense focus for Warren Buffett himself and for those around him. It's a fascinating study of Buffett's choices and their impact. Schroeder writes the whole thing engagingly and seems to understand that success in one pursuit isn't the end-all-be-all of human existence.
Highly recommended. Schroeder has captured something about success that many biographies of successful people have not.