A catholic tailor used his life savings to go to the Vatican. When he returned his parish gathered to find out what he had seen. “What kind of a fellow is the Pope?” they asked him. “44 Medium,” he said.
This is the kind of obsession Buffet is looking for in his managers. “In Warren’s world it is not so much about how smart we are, but how obsessed we are,” says Mary Buffet, in her sweet voice. Find an obsessive with ‘recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses or images which cannot be ignored or suppressed’ (DSM 300.3). And make sure that he is obsessed with your business.
This is a sweet book read by a sweet voice, easy to hear and easy to understand. Indeed, sometimes it reads like a recipe book, with generous margins for adding ingredients. Sometimes it reads like the ROMPER ROOM list of Do-bees and Don’t-bees. DON’T be greedy when choosing a job. DON’T borrow money. DO delegate. DON’T criticize your employees. Do what you love to do and hire people who love what they do. DO be obsessed. DO choose the right company.
When a company owns a piece of the consumer’s mind, it never has to change its products. That means more profits, and more managerial bonuses. It is good to work for such a company.
When a company sells a unique service, like H & R Block, it doesn’t have to worry about falling demand: “There is never a recession in the tax filing business.” It also doesn’t have to worry about spending lots of money on capital. It is good to work for such a company.
Below-cost buyers and sellers like Walmart’s and Costco also have a competitive advantage; but beware — the stress on keeping prices low puts a great deal of pressure on managers. Still, these chains offer good managerial opportunities.
Sometimes it reads like a macroeconomics textbook, and sometimes like a handbook in human psychology (We all have a deep and honest need to be appreciated.). Or etiquette (When meeting someone for the first time, behave in a friendly way. ).
But mostly this is a manual of common sense with instructions on how to be a good human being, not only a good manager.