Uncle Warren’s Principles for a Profitable Life

A number of my recent readings have pointed at shoring-up a personal blindspot – financial intelligence. As I wander into my, wait for it…middle-aged years, it seems prudent to have a more comprehensive understanding of financial fitness. Don’t worry, I don’t intend to bore you with fiscal jargon or involve much discussion in the way of money. And, by no means, should this dissertation imply that I’ve any sort of command on the situation

Early in my folly, I was lucky to be pointed towards Warren Buffett. Too obvious, right? I’m certain, you’re well-aware of the mountain of wealth he’s responsiblefor possessing. I was too (his net worth tips the scale a bit over $76 billion). However, I was less aware of his more mountainous and equally impressive wealth of knowledge. To quote a friend, the man is a proverbial, “fount of knowledge.” Much like his fortune, he liberally distributes this mental capital en masse via letters to his shareholders. These investment letters, laced with scores of wisdom, provide the principle from which I withdrew larger and over-arching truths about living from him, the Oracle of Omaha. I believe these lessons, and countless others, to be an investment worth everyone’s study.

Lesson 1:

“Run your business as if: (1) you own 100% of it; (2) it is the only asset in the world that you and your family have or will ever have; and (3) you can’t sell or merge it for at least a century.”

Let’s start by treating our body as if we own 100% of it – we do! Obviously, it is the only one we will ever have. And, like it or not, our family will depend on us for many years. Moral implications aside, we certainly can’t sell nor merge ourselves, but too often we might rely on ‘selling out’ to dependence on pharmaceuticals or ‘merging’ through invasive surgery and repair. In a nutshell, the responsibility of living long and well is ours and ours alone. The sooner we accept these terms, the earlier we’ll observe profit from taking ownership of our fitness and life alike.

Lesson 2:

“It is better to be approximately right than precisely wrong.”

We – as investors, exercisers, parents, friends, no matter the hat we don – need to do very few things right as long as we avoid big mistakes. Think about this in terms of proper movement or generally sound nutrition. It’s sometimes less seductive – this sticking to basic principles or known ways to success. Trendy, get-rich/fit-quick fads are the perpetual rage in the fitness and investment world. Yet, calling someone who follows the latest hypo-caloric diet trend, exercise program or life-hack a champion of fitness is, like Buffett quips, “like calling someone who repeatedly engages in one-night stands a romantic.” The lemming analogy seems appropriate here. A follow-the-herd mentality, especially when steering the business of your fitness, is almost always bad. What the wise do in the beginning, fools do in the end.

Lesson 3:

“It’s very important, always live your life by an inner scorecard.”

Enduring fitness, and I dare say happiness, is won by those who focus on both the quality and diversity of their time’s investment (read as: movement, nutrition, recovery, longevity) – not by those whose eyes are glued to the leaderboard. If we can enjoy Saturdays and Sundays because we haven’t checked Wodify scores or stepped upon the scale, might we give it a try throughout the week? This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t strive to improve on an objective scale. We should! Aiming at perfection is much akin to navigating by the North Star, it’s not a place we’ll ever reach, but it provides a guiding perspective for our travels.

Whether in the gym or our objectives otherwise, our energies are only able to be fully expressed with investment of our most valuable, nonrenewable resource time. Buffett has been quoted ad nauseam on compounding interest and it’s relevance to growing his compounding assets. I tend to agree; not concering my meager wealth, but in relation to an ever-profitable existence. Let us consciously chase these pursuits with the long-game in mind. Like Buffett in his annual letters, I’m compelled to share, in my greenhorn way, how I think so that you can evaluate not only our success as a fitness business, but also assess our approach to management and life in general. When we’re consciously judicious with how we invest time – with whom, doing what, and thinking of – we are sure to notice long-term gains in the caliber of life’s experience.

Still carrying fire,



Buffett, W., & Cunningham, L. A. (2015). The essays of Warren Buffett: lessons for corporate America. Washington, DC: Laurence A. Cunningham

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