Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Most Important Lunch Ever

A Chinese investment fund manager will be paying 2.1 million dollars for lunch with billionaire Warren Buffet, after winning a charity auction on Ebay this Friday evening. One wonders what the two will talk about, but as Warren Buffet is probably the most successful investment fund manager of all time, they undoubtedly will speak the same language, business-wise.

The more intriguing question is: what would any of the rest of us do with the opportunity to spend a casual lunch with one of the wealthiest individuals in the world? Would we ask for advice? A grant? A loan? An investment in our future? Money? Perhaps some would simply talk about common interests, current affairs, favorite movies, philosophy or questions of faith.  All of the above?

How do we prepare for the opportunity of a lifetime?  Do we study his history - read biography after biography so as to make the most out of the opportunity? Do we create a business proposal? Rehearse the opportunity with friends?  Rehearse in front of a mirror? On the other hand, do we simply reject the idea of undue preparation and present ourselves as we are and simply enjoy lunch with another human being?

Finally, I'm sure some would turn down the opportunity outright, unimpressed and unmoved by accomplishments and power.

What would I do?  I would think that the key to making the most of an opportunity like this is to recognize first that individual like Warren Buffet is first and foremost another human being, albiet an individual with particular abilities and talents that have worked well for him.  Learning about the so-called rich and powerful is fascinating not because of their wealth, but how they learned to improve on their circumstances.  For me, that's the primary fascination I have with power and leadership.  

America's foremost and probably most successful capitalist, Andrew Carnegie, became, in today's dollars, perhaps the wealthiest individual of all time, beginning as a nearly penniless boy and dying as a philanthropist without compare, whose impact is still felt nearly one hundred year after his death.  There were no guidebooks to wealth and fortune as there are today.  He did it by learning from experience.

What would I want to gain from a lunch with a Warren Buffet-type individual?  I wouldn't be interested in how he reached his level of accomplishment - the nuts-and-bolts of extraordinary success vary from individual to individual.  

I think I would ask, without further clarification, "Why are you who you are?" 


Josh Morgan said...

I love what you said. As a society, we do deify those who are celebrities. It's easy to do, and I know I'm guilty of it. But also getting to know celebrities, truly getting to know them, also reminds us that they are just human, as we all are. It's a much nicer way to connect. I know they appreciate it, too (well, some of them ;) )...

Anonymous said...

I would ask him what his favorite color is.

Rich Samuels said...

And that would be as valid a question as any, if just to see the reaction.