If there’s one person you’d want financial advice from, it’s Warren Buffett

If you’re looking for financial advice, you want to get it from the best. Someone who has a proven track record of success. Few people fit this description as well as Warren Buffett. A brief biography of the business icon shows that he was born in middle America in 1930 and that he gained success in identifying and investing in undervalued companies. He ultimately assumed control of the investment company Berkshire Hathaway and gained a net worth of $87.3 billion as of 2019.

So, it is understandable that when a teenager had the chance to ask Buffett for his advice during one of Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meetings, he jumped at the chance. How did the revered businessman respond? We’ve got the details.

Buffett’s advice wasn’t what anyone thought it would be

It is rare for a well-known, experienced, and successful businessman to have the chance to answer a young person’s question about success. It is even rarer for this to happen in a large public forum, with the chance for his answer to be shared many times over.

In keeping with his track record of making unusual choices that show great returns, Buffet’s response was unexpected. It also proved extremely valuable.

Buffett’s response at this moment was important, potentially impacting large numbers of people. Most experts would have expected that he would focus on specific savings or investing tactics, or on how to identify opportunities that no one else sees and then make the most of them. Maybe he would even offer some management advice, or share his thoughts about building productive relationships.

As it turned out, in keeping with his track record of making unusual choices that show great returns, Buffet’s response was unexpected. It also proved extremely valuable.

Here’s what Buffett told the teenager

Warren Buffett told the teenager a simple truth: who you spend time with is an important decision, so choose to be with people better than you are. People who are smarter, more accomplished and have better work habits. Over time, the more you are with people with qualities that you want to have, the more their habits and values will rub off on you. In turn, this will make you better.

Being with others who are more advanced than you are has another benefit — it challenges you. As you’re around someone else with better habits or greater achievements, you naturally want to match what they do — to keep up. As you work to do this, you become better, smarter, or more skilled. You begin to act in ways or to do things that you wouldn’t have done on your own and to exceed your previous capabilities.

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As it turns out, a lot of people don’t follow Buffet’s advice

This unconventional advice makes a lot of sense, but it isn’t something most people do. Generally speaking, people seek others who are at their own level because it makes them comfortable. Humans naturally gravitate to others who are like them. Entire friendship and networking groups are based on this principle. There’s an ease of communication, almost a shorthand, between similar people who are together. They just “get” each other and this level of familiarity is often sought out and welcomed.

In addition, people may shy away from their betters for another reason — being around people who have achieved more is unsettling. It makes you doubt yourself. Such insecurities are not only uncomfortable, but they can also cause you to be less productive, crippling your initiative, your learning and success. As Buffett noted, however, if you can overcome this intimidation factor there’s likely to be a pretty big upside.

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