In 1930, the “Oracle of Omaha,” Warren Buffett, was born in Nebraska. Even at a young age, Warren impressed those around him with his business abilities. At the age of 11, he bought stock for himself, and at 13 he filed personal tax returns. He currently runs Berkshire Hathaway, which owns 60 other companies, including Geico and Duracell. He is renown internationally as an investment icon and philanthropist.
Buffett earned his high school diploma at age 17, when he had already earned $5,000 from delivering newspapers. He did not intend to attend college, but his father pressed him to do so. He attended the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania for two years before returning home. He then attended and graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, but he did not believe any further education was necessary. When finally convinced to pursue graduate studies, he applied to the Harvard Business School but was rejected because he was too young. Instead, he attended the Columbia Business School, at which he studied under Ben Graham, who he admired.
During his professional life, Buffett has made countless financial investments and attained his current fortune. He worked under Graham for two years before forming his own firm in Omaha called Buffett Partnership Ltd. Although his firm was successful, he dissolved it in order to focus on Berkshire Hathaway, of which he eventually took control. He also invested for himself, purchasing large blocks of stock in numerous companies, such as Coca-Cola.
Buffett’s enormous success is matched by his philanthropy. His charitable gifting took form at Berkshire, whose shareholders could choose charities to receive $2 for each share they owned. This program enabled Berkshire to give millions to charities annually.
In 2010, working with Bill and Melinda Gates, Buffett launched The Giving Pledge, which asks billionaires to donate half their fortunes to charity. The Giving Pledge, while not legally binding, morally obligates over 180 billionaires who have pledged to donate the majority of their fortunes to charitable causes, either while they are alive or through their estates. Paul Allen of Microsoft, and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan of Facebook, are three such individuals who took the pledge. The Giving Pledge is committed to numerous causes such as poverty, education, medical research, and women empowerment.
Buffet himself has pledged more than 99% of his fortune to charity. He has already donated almost $32 billion, most of it to the Gates Foundation based on his long standing relationship with and trust in Bill and Melinda Gates. He plans to give away all his Berkshire shares within ten years of his estate settling.
For over half a century, Warren Buffet has been a force to be reckoned with, regarded as the world’s preeminent investor and one of its richest and most powerful men. And yet, he has devoted much of his life to helping others and has put his money where his mouth is.