Warren Buffett gave his son enough to follow his dream, but not enough to do nothing.
What would you have done if someone, very early in your adult life, had given you a free ticket to explore any career you wanted — but not enough to stop working forever? Would you have used that freedom to pursue another life path? How would your life be different now?
A story from a forthcoming book by Peter Buffett, son of the legendary Omaha investor, is an invitation to daydream on that topic. At age 19, the younger Mr. Buffett received a relatively modest bequest from his wealthy father — ‘enough to do anything, but not enough to do nothing,’ one of his father’s often-quoted tenets, he explains in an essay adapted from his book, ‘Life Is What You Make It,’ published recently in Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Proceeds from the sale of a farm were converted into shares of his father’s company, Berkshire Hathaway.
A student at Stanford University at the time, Peter opted to sell the shares, collect roughly $90,000 and leave college. (Those shares are worth roughly $72 million now, but the younger Buffet says he has no regrets.)
He moved to San Francisco, set up a studio and began working on his music, playing the piano, writing tunes, experimenting with electronic sounds and taking whatever work he could find, paid or unpaid.
The decision put Peter Buffett in position to get his lucky break — a chance encounter that led to a meeting with an animator who worked with a fledgling cable channel called MTV. That led to paid work in advertising and eventually, the ability to make a living in music. Mr. Buffett went on to create a career as an Emmy Award-winning musician, composer and producer. ‘If I had faced the necessity of making a living from day one, I would not have been able to follow the path I chose,’ he writes.
I found this story thought-provoking. Some young adults feel forced to grab the highest-paying jobs they can get right out of college — jobs that can entrap them on a path leading away from their career dreams. But for others, the need to earn a living serves as a positive and practical discipline. If someone had given me the gift of time, for example, as Mr. Buffett did for his son, I imagine I would have squandered it writing bad novels, rather than getting useful paying work as a secretary, then as a teacher, and then going on to graduate school in journalism, a far more practical path in my case.
Readers, what would you have done if someone had given you a free pass to spend time exploring the career of your dreams? Would you have taken a different career path? Or would a free ticket have destroyed your motivation?
‘To my mind nothing is more tragic than having a passion for something that will never be able to support yourself or your family. I have a friend with a passion for music but not enough talent to ever make a go of it professionally, so he works as an administrator. How much better to have been born with a passion for tax law, chemistry or computer programming.’
‘I would have left for France and enrolled in culinary school. That was my dream coming out of high school.’
巴菲特之子彼得•巴菲特(Peter Buffett)即将出版的新书中，有一个故事不禁让人对这样一个话题浮想联翩。彼得19岁时便从他的富爸爸那里得到了一笔相对不多的财产，这些钱“够做任何事，但不够无所事事。”这是他父亲经常引述的原则之一，并在彼得的一篇短文中得到了诠释。短文改编自他一本题为《人生由你打造》(Life Is What You Make It)的新书，发表在近期出版的彭博《商业周刊》(Bloomberg BusinessWeek)上。这笔财富来自于出售一处农场的收益，并转换成了他父亲的伯克希尔-哈撒韦公司(Berkshire Hathaway)的股份。