Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley
The wealthiest person in the world is not only the world’s greatest investor, he also has some exacting standards when hiring his staff for jobs at Berkshire Hathaway.
Warren Buffett, who for years played second fiddle to Bill Gates among the world’s wealthiest billionaires, was recently named by Forbes Magazine as the new No. 1 with a net worth of $62 billion (remember, this article was written in 2008).
“In looking for someone to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy,” said Buffet. “But the most important is integrity, because if they don’t have that, the other two qualities, intelligence and energy, are going to kill you.”
This insight comes from The Tao of Warren Buffett by Mary Buffett (his daughter-in-law) and David Clark.
“When you hire someone to run your business, you are entrusting him or her with the piggy bank,” according to Buffett. “If these people are smart and hardworking, they are going to make you a lot of money, but it they aren’t honest, they will find lots of clever way to make all your money theirs.”
The rule is simple: People with integrity are predisposed to perform; people without integrity are predisposed not to perform. It is best not to get the two confused. Integrity is the key ingredient.
The lesson is simple: Having integrity is more important than being good at what you do.
Mary Buffett says that “Warren’s management style has always been to afford his managers tremendous operational autonomy. They are free to run the businesses as if they are the owners. He could not give his managers this much freedom if they lacked integrity.”
That is how important integrity is; it is everything. If you are concerned about being judgmental, work more on becoming less so by gaining more knowledge and understanding, and always stress your integrity first.
While Warren Buffett is a great investor, he is not a great manager of the businesses that Berkshire Hathaway owns. His secret for growing a corporation through diverse acquisitions is to buy a good business for a reasonable price that already has competent management running it, and then get out of way and let them do their job.
To show you how particular Buffett is at picking his own people, you need only know that Berkshire Hathaway has about 180,000 employees but only 17 of them are at Berkshire Hathaway headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska with Warren Buffett.
Can you imagine any other major corporation in America with only 17 employees at its headquarters office? If you get the idea that Berkshire Hathaway is an efficient operation, you get the idea. How you determine who to hire makes all the difference in the world.
Berkshire Hathaway has stock in very few companies, a huge stake in some major companies and owns some companies outright.
When you speak as a potential hire, people should almost instantly get the impression that they are talking to a person of substance who is guided by integrity and is very professional at what they are doing.
You develop this presence by knowing who you are, where you are at, what you are doing, why you are doing it, and doing it so you can serve someone else at their point of need. Like success, this development is a process and not a destination, but I promise you from the bottom of my Irish heart that you will enjoy the journey, and God will be with you to help you and guide you on your way.