Warren Buffett served as a mentor to young professionals yesterday during an “Office Hours” session with Levo League, a networking and career advice site.
During the live stream video chat, the Berkshire Hathaway CEO told women to “stop holding yourself back” and shared personal stories — including how he overcame his fear of public speaking — to highlight universal career lessons.
We’ve included a few key takeaways from Buffett’s interview below:
1. Find your passion.
“Never give up searching for the job that you’re passionate about,” he says. “Try to find the job you’d have if you were independently rich. … Forget about the pay. When you’re associating with the people that you love, doing what you love, it doesn’t get any better than that.”
2. Be careful who you look up to.
“If you tell me who your heroes are, I’ll tell you how you’re gonna turn out. It’s really important in life to have the right heroes. I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve probably had a dozen or so major heroes. And none of them have ever let me down. You want to hang around with people that are better than you are. You will move in the direction of the crowd that you associate with.”
3. Learn how to communicate effectively.
While he was getting his MBA from Columbia University, Buffett said that he was “terrified of public speaking,” and signed up for a Dale Carnegie class, but changed his mind at the last minute. After graduating, Buffett saw the ad for the course again and decided to give it a second chance.
“I became associated with the 30 other people in the class. We couldn’t stand up in front of a group and say our own name. I mean it was — we were — it was pathetic. But that class changed my life in a big way.”
4. Develop healthy habits by studying people.
“Pick the person that has the right habits, that is cheerful, generous, gives other people credit for what they do. Look at all of the qualities that you admire in other people … and say to yourself, ‘Which of those qualities can’t I have myself?’ Because you determine whether you have them. And the truth is you can have all of them.”
5. Learn how to say “no.”
“You won’t keep control of your time, unless you can say ‘no.’ You can’t let other people set your agenda in life.”
6. Don’t work for someone who won’t pay you fairly.
“I do very little negotiation with people. And they do little with me, in terms of it … if I was a woman and I thought I was getting paid considerably less than somebody else that was equal coming in, that would bother me a lot. I probably wouldn’t even want to work there. I mean, [if] somebody’s gonna be unfair with you, in salary, they’re probably being unfair with you in a hundred other ways.”
7. Become involved with growing businesses.
“I mean, you want to get on a train that’s going to go 90 miles an hour and not one that’s gonna go 30 miles an hour and you’re gonna try to figure out how to, you know, push it along a little faster. So it really does make a huge difference. And there are some businesses that inherently [have] far more opportunities than others.”
8. Learn everything you can about your industry.
Buffett says he reads six hours every day because he believes that growing your intellectual prospective will also help you critically solve future problems that may arise.
“I knew a lot about what I did when I was 20. I had read a lot, and I aspired to learn everything I could about the subject. “
9. Young women should seek male mentors.
Buffett says it’s important for women to have male mentors, because the majority of today’s leaders in the workplace are still men.
“These [mentoring] relationships all just evolve. I never set out to become a mentor … It’s amazing … how the person that really wants to do a terrific job just jumps out. There aren’t that many. You will be perceived as exceptional and as a worthy person for a superior to spend some extra time with if you just do something extra all the time. It seems elementary, but it’s true.”
At the end of his office hour, Buffett told everyone that even if they fail along the way, “the world isn’t over,” because “you are healthy, and bright and have decades ahead of you.”