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If you’ve ever been to a Dairy Queen, you’re probably familiar with one of their most popular menu items, the Blizzard, soft serve ice cream mixed with sundae toppings, cookies, brownies, or candy. You might also be aware that every Blizzard is served upside down—a surprising piece of fast food performance art to prove that each treat is so thick it will defy gravity.
“Thinking differently and celebrating an upside-down philosophy runs deep in the DQ system,” is how one Dairy Queen executive once explained the practice.
The same could be said of the genius of Dairy Queen’s owner, Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway empire acquired the restaurant chain in 1998. (A frequent Dairy Queen customer, Warren explained at the time that he and his business partner, Charlie Munger, “put our money where our mouth is.”)
Every time I get to see Warren, I’m struck by his surprising, insightful, “upside-down” view of the world. He thinks differently—about almost everything. For starters, he credits his amazing success to something anyone could do. “I just sit in my office and read all day,” he explained.
In a time when instant gratification is craved in all aspects of life, Warren is one of the most patient people I know, willing to wait to get the results he wants. As he once said, “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”
And, as I’ve learned again and again during my visits with him even his diet is oddly upside down. Instead of ending his day with dessert, that’s how he likes to begin the day. He counts Oreos and ice cream among his breakfast foods!
During my visit to Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting in Omaha last month, I learned more about Warren’s sweet tooth. Warren and I broke away from the meetings to visit a Dairy Queen for some lunch and to get some restaurant training. We learned how to work the cash register, greet guests, and make a Blizzard (including the proper way to serve it, “Always upside down with a smile!”) I think I may have been a quicker study than Warren in the Blizzard department but watch the video above and you can judge for yourself.
Now that Warren knows how to make a Blizzard, I suspect it will be on his breakfast menu too. (Warren, just be careful turning it upside down!)