This year has been brutal on so many levels. But 1983 could have been far worse.
So it’s no surprise that I’m really pleased to see Carol Loomis’ book on Warren published this month. Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything, 1966-2012 is a compilation of forty-plus years’ worth of coverage of Warren by the writers of FortuneFortune, with a notable share written by Warren’s longtime friend, Carol Loomis. Inside are pieces by Carol, other writers, some essays by Warren himself, and there’s even a reprint of a piece I wrote in 1996 about our friendship.
It’s fairly well known that I almost didn’t meet Warren. My mom and dad had invited him, Katharine Graham and Meg Greenfield to the family’s weekend home, and my mother really insisted that I meet him, in spite of my pushing back hard that I had too much to do to take a day off to meet “some guy who picked stocks.” But from the moment we started talking, I could tell this was an extraordinary individual, whose intellect and business insights were astounding. I realized that day I had met a genius. I have felt that way ever since that July afternoon in 1991 and have never passed up an opportunity to learn more from him about business. In the process, I’ve also learned a great deal from him about life.
Tap Dancing to Work is a comprehensive look into Warren’s thinking about business and investing. The stories in the book are arranged roughly chronologically. I think anyone who reads it cover to cover will come away with two reactions: First, how Warren’s been incredibly consistent in applying his vision and investment principles over the duration of his career; and, secondly, that his analysis and understanding of business and markets remains unparalleled. I wrote in 1996 that I’d never met anyone who thought about business in such a clear way. That is certainly still the case.
Carol Loomis has done us all a big favor in pulling together this collection and writing quite thoughtful introductions to the major pieces. Examining the arc of Warren’s business life in his own words and those of other gifted observers (preeminently, Carol Loomis, herself) is an extremely worthwhile use of time to get into the mind of this remarkable business leader and philanthropist. I hope many people, even those who think they know Warren well, will read it cover to cover. I know I will.