I don’t remember the exact day I first met most of my friends, but with Warren Buffett I do. It was 25 years ago today: July 5, 1991.
The date stands out in my mind so clearly because it marked the beginning of a new and unexpected friendship for Melinda and me—one that has changed our lives for the better in every imaginable way.
Warren has helped us do two things that are impossible to overdo in one lifetime: learn more and laugh more.
Over the last quarter-century of our friendship, we’ve done a lot of both.
Warren and I may seem like a mismatch. I’m a technology nerd. He’s an investor who doesn’t use email. In 1991, when my mother called me to come out to our vacation home on Hood Canal to meet Warren, I wasn’t very interested in meeting him. Eventually, my mother convinced me to come. I agreed to stay for two hours. But then I met Warren. He asked me these amazingly good questions about the software business nobody had asked me before. Two hours passed. And then hours and hours more. It was a deep friendship from our very first conversation.
In 2006, Warren pledged the bulk of his wealth to our foundation. As a trustee of our foundation, Warren is an amazing thought partner to Melinda and me. When faced with a challenge, we often ask ourselves, “What would Warren do?” It usually leads us to the best answer. Our former foundation CEO Patty Stonesifer used to say that when Warren came into the foundation, “everybody just stood a little bit taller.”
Melinda loves throwing costume parties. She can always count on Warren to go all out getting dressed up for the occasion.
At a Camelot themed party, Warren came as Merlin.
Everyone in my family loves having Warren over because he is just full of life. Whenever Warren's in the house, there is just so much laughter. Here he is with my mom and dad.
One thing that was surprising to learn about Warren is that he has basically stuck to eating what he liked when he was six years old. He mostly eats hamburgers, ice cream, and Coke. (That’s one reason it’s so fun to go out to dinner with him.) Here we are about to get some burgers and fries at a McDonald’s in Hong Kong. Always thrifty, Warren paid with coupons.
Warren is certainly competitive about business, but outside of that he likes to joke and have fun. My family loves to play games and it can get quite competitive. But having Warren around always lightens it up.
I’ve learned many things from Warren over the last 25 years, but maybe the most important thing is what friendship is all about. It’s about being the kind of friend you wish you had yourself.
Everyone should be lucky enough to have a friend who is as thoughtful and kind as Warren. He goes out of his way to make people feel good about themselves and share his joy about life.