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Buffett on BBC TV


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I think you have to have a United Kingdom IP address to view the programme online unless special arrangements are made. Being BBC's own content, there's a possibility they'll offer an "outside the UK" link, though I've only seen this for online-only Formula One opinion-pieces. The same applies to viewing BBC programmes for up to 1 week after on the BBC iPlayer service. I've heard of people using internet proxies in the UK, but usually only if they have a UK employer or something similar. I think open proxies are a rarity now, thanks to misuse. There might be some text content on bbc.co.uk, background info and photos to give a flavour

 

As I live in the UK, I'm looking forward to watching it over the air in 40 minutes' time on BBC Two. I wonder how they'll pronounce Berkshire! :)

 

Programme details at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00nn7vs

 

I guess there's a possibility of some excerpts appearing on youtube.

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The programme was produced my the Money Programme team, http://www.bbc.co.uk/moneyprogramme

 

The following link includes some embedded videos which were included in part or in full in the programme (possibly UK-only, but you can try)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8317072.stm and a summary of many of the ideas explored.

 

The programme was enjoyable (pronounced Berkshire Hathaway like Warren, not like the English county of the same name, pronounced BARK-SHEER), though contained little factual that one of us wouldn't have known already. For me, seeing some of the people and places, even some of the products I'd never see in England (DQ, the Geico ad), was interesting, and I thought that a good deal of the principals of Buffett and Charlie's processes were well explained with both being interviewed. Charlie mentioned the checklist: easy to understand; run by trustworthy, competent management; with durable competitive advantage; available at an acceptably attractive price. Warren talked of Ben Graham's Mr. Market in a way which is potentially enlightening to a good number of people who haven't come across it. The difference between investment and speculation. Buying the business not the stock certificate. For me, I'd always aim to explain and mention Graham's maxim, "Price is what you pay, value is what you receive" - best understood in the Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville essay, but on the whole, it was a good summary of the man, his humble attitude, the apparent contradictions, the unconventional but supremely rational thinking, the power of compounding, of avoiding debt leverage and that disastrous multiply-by-zero effect. In summary, while we can't all have the investing results of Warren Buffett, perhaps he can show us how to have the happy life he has.

 

Included were interviews with daughter, Susan (commissioned to buy his last car, a repaired hail-damaged, thus cheaper, SUV), son Peter, and a couple of excerpts from the 2004-ish interview with his late wife Susan (I saw this in full on the web some time ago) including the story of their unconventional but happy marriage where she introduced him to Astrid Menks - partly illustrating the unconventional contrarian aspect to Warren. Various other interviewees included Berkshire CEOs Kevin Clayton, Tony Nicely (saying WEB is GEICO's lovable grandfather-figure), Cathy Tamraz, the Fed regulator with whom Warren pleaded for a Sunday ruling change at the height of the Salomon Brothers affair, where his honesty and fair-dealing reputation won the reprieve and he set about changing the culture for the better - cut to video clip "If an employee loses us money I'll be sympathetic, but if they lose us a shred of reputation I'll be ruthless." Another interviewee was one of the senior Salomon executives who recalls the unpopularity of Warren's attempt to curb excessive compensation at the firm and a story of the Arbitrage desk asking if the firm could buy him out to stop his meddling with their bonuses. All this echoes with today's public concerns.

 

It even went a little unconventional to illustrate how Warren finds out what agrees with him and sticks with it. Such as the regular visits to Gorats, the minimal consumption of fruit and vegetables (save for banana cream pie or strawberry cheesecake!) or even a glass of water when T-bone, hash browns and Coke are available, with say peanuts and coke for breakfast.

 

Bill Gates was also interviewed regarding how he learns from Warren, about bridge and the charitable foundation - giving it all away etc. There was also the story of how Warren bought Nebraska Furniture Mart from the redoubtable Rose Blumkin with a personal visit, a handshake, no due diligence and a simple typed-up agreement with no lawyers involved. He didn't even check out the title deeds to the store.

 

A fair flavour was given of Berkshire's unique culture and how it still feels like a friendly family business despite its size and wealth, and how he charms and praises the CEOs so they still love their jobs while saying "I can do better investing Clayton's profit in this other company over here, than you can reinvesting it within Clayton". This section ended with Warren revealing how the Dale Carnegie course and "How to win friend and influence people" changed his life.

 

Anyhow, it covered a lot of interesting stuff in the space of an hour with no commercials (except Coke and GEICO ad excerpts for illustration) and I'm glad to have seen it. I'll probably watch it again tomorrow night 11:20 PM (GMT) on BBC One.

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Hardly any of this interview with Don Graham (Washington Post Chairman, son of the late Katharine Graham) was aired on the TV show, but it's a fascinating first-hand insight into Warren's mind, mental approach, and shows Don's understanding of what's unique about B.H.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8322961.stm

 

There are also links below the embedded video to extended interviews with Warren (much of which was in the TV show), plus David "Sandy" Gottesman and Bill Gates some of which were in the show's final edit.

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The full hi-quality 1-hour episode can be found here:

http://thebox.bz/details.php?id=96807

 

The World's Greatest Money Maker: Evan Davis meets Warren Buffett

Monday 26 October, 9:00pm - 10:00pm, BBC2

 

The working title for this engaging profile of super-investor Warren Buffett was How to Be Rich. That had a double meaning: Davis's film is as much about Buffett's ability to treat his wealth sensibly and lead a rich life as it is about the way he got there. He is the second richest person on the planet, worth tens of billions of pounds, yet he lives in the same modest house in Omaha he bought 30 years ago, buys cut-price cars (when his daughter persuades him it's time to get a new one) and works from a very ordinary office with minimal support staff. As Davis puts it, "It's easier to see what's ordinary about Buffett than what's extraordinary." Buffett's most valuable insight is one he quotes from a 1940s investment book: "The market is there to serve you and not to instruct you." Overall, he comes across as genial and funny in a slightly geeky way, and you can't help wishing Davis had had more time with him.

 

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