Notable Quotes from “Behind the Berkshire Hathaway Curtain”

“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

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“Invest Lah!” Has Hit the Major Bookstores!

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“Invest Lah! The Average Joe’s Guide to Investing” is now available at selected major bookstores. Currently, the books can be found at:

  • Borders – Westgate
  • Kinokuniya – Bugis
  • Times – Plaza Singapura and Paragon

More major bookstores, including Popular, will carry the books from this week onwards. For more information about the book, check out this page.

There is also a Facebook page dedicated to the book here. Do “like” us. Periodic updates on where to get the books and other informative videos and articles will be posted up on the page. A contest is also slated to run soon where you can win free goodies. Do keep a lookout for that.

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Invest Lah! The Average Joe’s Guide to Investing

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Have you read investing books thinking you would learn a thing or two, only to be confused with all the financial jargons? Would you like to know three locally listed companies that may make good investments? Do you want to know how to open a brokerage account so that you can purchase your first stock?

If the answers for all the above questions are a resounding “YES!”, you have to catch hold of the latest book to hit major bookstores in the new year!

“Invest Lah! The Average Joe’s Guide to Investing” is slated to make your moolah worth it. This book was written with the intention to be the ultimate go-to book for beginners to learn about investing in stocks, especially in Singapore. The authors wouldn’t be surprised that you love the book so much that you even hug it to sleep.

Topics covered in the book include:

  • Why invest?
  • Myths of investing
  • The concept of Prudent Investing
  • How to analyse a stock to invest in
  • How to read Financial Statements
  • How to read Annual Reports
  • Behavioural finance
  • Case studies of three companies listed in Singapore Exchange
  • Case study of a company that has been taken private
  • Investing in Straits Times Index Exchange Traded Funds
  • How to buy and sell shares in Singapore
  • Corporate actions for locally listed stocks
  • And many more!

Why wait? Grab hold of the book in early 2014, lah!

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Book Review – “See’s Famous Old Time Candies”

I was lucky to have chanced upon this book when I was searching for another book in the National Library. This is a book written by Margaret Moos Pick. This book touches on the history of the famous See’s Candies, the quality culture in the company and many other fun facts.

The book was so interesting that I read it in one sitting. The whole book is in colour and it is filled up pages and pages of photos of chocolates. It was so enticing. I took some photos of the book as shown below:

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After reading the book, I was craving for some See’s Candies. I went to their official website and saw that they post to Singapore with a shipping fee of US$25. I’m so going to order them!

Book Review – “The Outsiders”

“The Outsiders” is another book recommended by Warren Buffett in his 2012 Shareholder’s Letter on top of “Investing Between The Lines”. In the letter, he comments, “The Outsiders, by William Thorndike, Jr., is an outstanding book about CEOs who excelled at capital allocation. It has an insightful chapter on our director, Tom Murphy, overall the best business manager I’ve ever met.” Buffett, being as modest as always, declines to say that he has been featured in the book as well.

The book is about how eight CEOs went against the norm and created enormous success, both for the company and the shareholders. The CEOs are quipped as “outsiders ” by the author as they are unassuming and do not pander to Wall Street’s expectations. These CEOs consistently achieved extraordinary results by constantly zigging while their peers zagged. If you think Jack Welch was an extraordinary CEO, you have not met or read about these eight individuals (except the 8th guy, I think). They are:

  1. Tom Murphy from Capital Cities
  2. Henry Singleton from Teledyne
  3. Bill Anders from General Dynamics
  4. John Malone from TCI
  5. Katharine Graham from The Washington Post
  6. Bill Stiritz from Ralston Rurina
  7. Dick Smith from General Cinema
  8. Warren Buffett from You-Know-Where

These CEOs followed a virtually identical blueprint for success. They were against paying dividends as they are tax-inefficient due to double taxation at both corporate and individual levels (in the US),  made disciplined acquisitions, used leverage selectively, bought back a lot of their shares, ran decentralised organisations and focused very much on cash flow instead of earnings. However, the blueprint is not a strict formula to be followed. For example, it may not be wise to buy back shares when the company is overvalued. The right capital allocation decision varies according to the situation at any given point in time.

Do read this book to find out more. I certainly enjoyed reading this book and I am sure you will too.

Book Review – “The Value Investors”

I managed to complete reading a book called “The Value Investors: Lessons from the World’s Top Fund Managers” during my two-weeks of In-Camp Training.

It is authored by Ronald Chan and it features interviews with famous investors such as Walter Schloss, Irving Khan, Thomas Khan, William Browne, Jean-Marie Eveillard, Francisco Garcia Parames, Anthony Nutt, Mark Mobius, Teng Ngiek Lian, Shuhei Abe, V-Nee Yeh and Cheah Cheng Hye.

Basically, the book covers how the various investors started off their investing journey, what their investing style is and almost all talk about the temperament needed to invest profitably. This book served as a good refresher for me, especially the part on the mindset needed to invest successfully.

Also, something that caught my attention was during William Browne’s interview. In it, he mentioned about a Tweedy, Browne article titled “10 Ways to Beat an Index“, where one of the studies shows that 80% to 90% of investment returns have occurred in spurts that amount to only 2% to 7% of the total length of the holding period. The rest of the time, stocks’ returns have been minimal. This was an eye-opener when I related back to my own experience with stocks.

The last chapter serves as a summary to the book. If do not have time, you can read the last chapter to get a gist of the book. However, nothing beats reading the whole book in entirety. This is a highly recommended book for those who want to learn more about the lives of some of the greatest investing legends!