“Behind the Berkshire Hathaway Curtain” is a book authored by Ronald Chan. He is also the author of “The Value Investors”, which I once reviewed.
In Behind the Berkshire Hathaway Curtain, Ronald interviewed many of the stewards of the companies owned by Berkshire Hathaway. The Chief Executives and the firms featured in the book include:
- Cathy Baron-Tamraz from Business Wire
- Randy Watson from Justin Brands
- Stanford Lipsey from Buffalo News
- Barry Tatelman from Jordan’s Furniture
- Dennis Knautz from Acme Brick
- Brad Kinstler from See’s Candies
- Marla Gottschalk from The Pampered Chef
- David Sokol from MidAmerican Energy
- Walter Scott Jr. from MidAmerican Energy
Some of the remarkable quotes from the book are:
- True leaders who have been tested do not need to show off their abilities or create deals and “noise” for their company. They are the ones with discipline, solid business principles and a sense of team spirit that benefits the whole company instead of themselves. – Cathy Baron-Tamraz
- Hard work is always required to succeed, but being curious and adventurous enables you to challenge and surprise yourself. – Cathy Baron-Tamraz
- We are given two eyes, two ears and one mouth, so we should always observe and listen, and talk only 20% of the time. – Randy Watson
- One thing I’ve learnt is that people do not care what you know until they know that you care. – Randy Watson
- My job is to make sure that I have the right people in the right place, and then I stay of their way. – Randy Watson
- Truthful advertistments sometimes outsell those that are manipulative and inaccurate. – Barry Tatelman
- Do the numbers tell you the whole story? Yes and no! They tell you how a business is being operated, but they don’t tell you how it should be operated. – Dennis Knautz
- The only thing I could do was to keep my head down, check my ego at the door, and work extremely hard to prove that I was capable of leading. – David Sokol
- Life to me is a journey, not a destination. – Walter Scott Jr.
- When things change, change along with them. Apat! – Walter Scott Jr.
A common thread in the book was that hard work and integrity are paramount if one wants to succeed in life.
Some of the leaders have also said that Buffett’s focus on the long-term, instead of short-term profitability, really helps them to focus on building their businesses. Brad Kinstler of See’s Candies quipped, “Warren looks at the long-term picture. Because he does not put us in the position of needing to achieve consistent revenue and earnings growth in all economic environments, we can shift our attention to the long term”.
Let me sign off with my most favourite quote from the book:
“When my father, Edward, passed away in 1980, everybody in town came to his funeral to pay tribute. He died without an enemy and money can’t buy that. Perhaps the number of people who attend one’s funeral is a measurement of success.” – Barry Tatelman