Whew! What a wonderful time at Berkshire Hathaway’s 2018 Annual Meeting, an annual ritual I’ve enjoyed since 1997, and with my Stephanie for the past decade. This year was special for many reasons, including the release of our new book The Warren Buffett Shareholder: Stories from Inside the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting. Our amazing group of 43 contributors did a great job illuminating why tens of thousands go every year. Most of us appear in the group photo (below left) outside this year’s Meeting place.
Another unique milestone occurred, as Berkshire released complete videos and transcripts of the meetings dating to 1994. This is an apparent response to the recent proliferation of books and blogs providing notes of the Meeting. Warren always prefers the real thing! For me, these archives are a trip down memory lane, including a fond reminder of how many times Warren and Charlie have endorsed my book, The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America: four times (see here, in 1998, 2000, 2008 and 2010). Thanks to them both for the kind words and for the honor and opportunity!
Our whirlwind visit this year began Thursday morning at the University of Nebraska where I gave a talk about the Berkshire Hathaway system, especially the role of shareholders in it (photo far right). Sales afterwards were brisk. Great to see host Bob Miles as well as Nicole Friedman, Robert Hagstrom, Jeff Matthews, Ron Olson and many other friends!
On Thursday evening, Yale University Radio’s Jim Campbell and I spoke about what to expect at this year’s meeting and to discuss the new book. Later Thursday, we swung by the Bookworm in West Omaha, which always has a dazzling display of great reads, especially those concerning Berkshire and Buffett (photo near right).
Friday morning I always speak to several different corporate groups, such as boards of directors and senior managers of companies trying to learn from the Berkshire model. This year I spoke to a large group of folks from AGR Partners, headed by Ejnar Knudsen.
On Friday afternoon, it was off to Creighton University, where for the fourth year I participated in a lively panel discussion featuring such luminaries as Vitaliy Katsenelsen and a full house of engaged devotees. Afterwards, the hosts offered a wine and cheese reception and book signing boasting dozens of luminous authors on Berkshire and related subjects, including many contributors to our new book. An action shot of Stephanie signing appears below left, with Keith Ashworth-Lord in the background. Thanks to Jim Ross of Hudson Books for rounding up the books and authors and to Bob Johnson, John Wingender and their colleagues at Creighton for the panel.
Friday evening we were off to the annual reception of the Yellow BRKers Club, folks I first met 25 years ago. While they don’t usually invite speakers or offer book signings, a one-time exception was made for this book given its unique perspective and provenance. We are grateful to Alex Bossert for the opportunity and to both catch up with old friends and make new ones! (One new friend is Maya Peterson, the young author of Early Bird, a great book about investing early!)
Saturday morning started early for many, and most cracked open the Omaha World Herald, which always has a special section on Berkshire for the Annual Meeting. For the fourth year in a row, thanks to Steve Jordon and Brad Davis, I contributed a columun offering insight into Berkshire culture, this year focusing on the sharehodlers; Stephanie wrote a great column this year too, highlighting insights gleaned from our book.
The big event was Saturday at the Century Link Center, where we spent some of the time in the meeting but most of the time at the Buffett-sponsored Bookworm exhibit where our book was featured along with a limited number of others that Warren hand picks. Thanks to Warren for having a six foot plywood mock up of our latest book’s cover constructed to form part of the entrance to this year’s Bookworm exhibit (where Stephanie is seated in the picture at right).
Thanks to Bookworm owners Phil and Beth Black, for loading stacks of three of my books on the table (pictured at left below). With much gratitude to them and many others throughout the weekend, we sold thousands of copies of our new book along with hundreds more of Berkshire Beyond Buffett and The Essays of Warren Buffett. Our fellow authors and book signers also enjoyed brisk sales and it was great to see them, including Peter Bevelin, Jeff Gramm, Andy Kilpatrick, and Laura Rittenhouse.
Saturday evening we headed over to the Holland Performing Arts Center for a panel discussion before the Young President’s Organization. I joined an amazing panel–Vitality again plus Tom Gayner and Tom Russo–who’ve been doing this together for more than a decade. Thanks to them and to host Todd Simon for letting me participate.
We rose early Sunday morning so I could joint 3000 others running the Brooks 5K. A fun race, it was great to see “team members” Tom Gayner, Ingrid Hendershot and John Pecaut out for the fresh air and good exercise. It was also great to say hello to Berkshire’s Greg Abel (who wore Number 1) and Brooks’ Jim Weber. Best news: I finished in about the same time this year as last year. (Every finisher received the medal I’m wearing post-race in the photo at right).
While I ran, Stephanie set up a book signing at the Markel Brunch in the Hilton, where we met even more wonderful readers and sold more boxes of books. At that point, exhilarated as we were, we called it a day with two of our favorite Omaha traditions: a lovely brunch, hosted this year by Warren’s assistant, Debbie Bosanek, and then a visit to Borsehims to buy Stephanie an elegant pair of earnings. Then we flew home, with more fond memories, and more reasons to return next year, as we and 43 of our friends explain in The Warren Buffett Shareholder: Stories from Inside the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting. We all thank Warren for making the event possible, and we especially thank him for his support and kind words for our new book.
We again thank the contributors to The Warren Buffett Shareholder: Stories from Inside the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting.
Charles T. Akre is the Managing Member, Chief Executive Officer, and Chief Investment Officer of Akre Capital Management, LLC in Middleburg, Virginia.
Keith Ashworth-Lord is Managing Director of Sanford DeLand, an asset management firm based in Manchester, England. Keith is the author of Invest in the Best.
Phil & Beth Black are co-owners and operators of The Bookworm, Omaha, Nebraska, which they founded in 1986.
John C. Bogle is the Founder of Vanguard, based in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Jack is the author of many books, including The Little Book of Common Sense Investing.
Patrick T. Brennan, CFA, is the Founder and Portfolio Manager of Brennan Asset Management, LLC, a concentrated value investing firm based in Napa, California.
Randy Cepuch is the author of A Weekend with Warren Buffett and Other Shareholder Meeting Adventures.
Stephanie Cuba is a real estate consultant based in New York City, and serves on the board of Brooklyn Excelsior Charter School and the advisory council of the Montefiore Medical Center/Einstein College of Medicine.
Lawrence A. Cunningham is a Professor at George Washington University, Founding Faculty Director of GW in New York, and a Director of Constellation Software Inc. Larry is the author of many books, including Berkshire Beyond Buffett.
Robert E. Denham is a Partner in the Los Angeles office of Munger, Tolles & Olson, LLP, a law firm which frequently represents Berkshire Hathaway. Bob is also a member of the boards of directors of Chevron Corporation; The New York Times Company; FEMSA; and Oaktree Capital Group.
Thomas S. Gayner is a Director and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Markel Corporation in Richmond, Virginia. Tom is a Director of Cable One, Colfax, and Graham Holdings; and Chairman of Davis Funds.
Joel Greenblatt is the Founder, Managing Principal, and Co-Chief Investment Officer of Gotham Capital, New York City, and a Director of Pzena Investment Management, Inc. Joel is the author of several books, including The Little Book that Beats the Market.
Robert G. Hagstrom, CFA, is the Senior Portfolio Manager of the Global Leaders Portfolio at Equity Compass Strategies, an asset management affiliate of Stifel Financial Corporation. Robert is the author of The Warren Buffett Way.
Raymond Buck Hartzell is the Director of Investor Learning and Operations at The Motley Fool, based in Alexandria, Virginia.
Ingrid R. Hendershot, CFA, is the Founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Hendershot Investments, Inc., Bristow, Virginia. She is the Editor of Hendershot Investments, a quarterly newsletter for long-term investors.
Mark Hughes is the Director of Equity Research at Lafayette Investments in Ashton, Maryland.
Prem C. Jain is the Elsa Carlson McDonough Chair of Accounting and Finance at the McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University, Washington DC. Prem is the author of Buffett Beyond Value.
Thomas Johansen is a Professor in the Department of Economics, Finance, and Accounting, Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas.
Steve Jordon is a Business Reporter for the Omaha World Herald, where he has worked since 1967.
David Kass is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Finance at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland.
Vitaliy Katsenelson is the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Investment Officer of Investment Management Associates, Inc., a value investment firm based in Denver, Colorado. Vitaliy is the author of The Little Book of Sideways Markets.
Karen Linder is President and Chief Executive Officer of Tethon 3D, a 3D printing company, and Principal of Linseed Capital, a private investment firm. Karen is the author of The Women of Berkshire Hathaway.
Simon Lorne is Vice Chairman and Chief Legal Officer of Millennium Partners, New York City. A former partner of Munger, Tolles & Olson, Si also serves as chairman of the Alternative Investment Management Association.
Thomas J. Manenti retired in 2018 as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of MiTek Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway company based in St. Loui, where he had worked since 1977.
Jeff Matthews retired in 2017 as the General Partner of Ram Partners LP, where he had served since 1993. Jeff is the author of several books, including Pilgrimage to Warren Buffett’s Omaha.
Tim Medley is a Partner at Medley & Brown, a financial advisory firm in Jackson, Mississippi, and a Director of the Sequoia Fund, Inc.
Robert P. Miles is an Executive in Residence at the College of Business Administration, University of Nebraska Omaha. Bob is the author of several books, including The Warren Buffett CEO.
Olza M. (Tony) Nicely is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of GEICO, a Berkshire Hathaway company, where he has worked since 1961.
Shane Parrish operates the farnamstreetblog.com.
Daniel Pecaut is the Chief Executive Officer of Pecaut & Company, an investment firm based in Sioux City, Iowa. Daniel is the co-author, with Corey Wrenn, of The University of Berkshire Hathaway.
John Petry is the Founder and Managing Member of Sessa Capital LLP. He serves on the board of the Success Academy Charter Network.
Laura J. Rittenhouse is the Chief Executive Officer of Rittenhouse Rankings, Inc., an investor communications and coaching firm, and author of several books, including Investing Between the Lines.
Francois Rochon is the Founder, President and Portfolio Manager of Giverny Capital based in Montreal, Canada.
Jim Ross is the Manager of the Hudson Booksellers store at Eppley Field in Omaha.
Thomas A. Russo is the Managing Member of Gardner Russo & Gardner LLC, serving also as General Partner of Semper Vic partnerships.
Andrew Steginsky, CFA, is the Founder and Managing Director of Steginsky Capital LLC in New York.
Macrae “Mac” Sykes is Senior Research Analyst, Gabelli & Company in Rye, New York.
Phil Terry is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Collaborative Gain, Inc., which runs leadership programs, and of Reading Odyssey, a lifelong learning nonprofit organization.
Charlie Tian is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of GuruFocus.com. He is the author of Invest Like a Guru.
Whitney Tilson is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Kase Learning, through which he teaches seminars on value investing, entrepreneurship and worldly wisdom. He was a contributor to Poor Charlie’s Almanack.
Bruce N. Whitman is the Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of FlightSafety International, a Berkshire Hathaway company, where he has worked since 1961.
John R. Wingender is a Professor and Chairman of the Department of Economics and Finance at the Heider College of Business, Creighton University.
Jason Zweig writes The Intelligent Investor column for The Wall Street Journal. He is the editor of the contemporary edition of Benjamin Graham’s classic book, The Intelligent Investor.
Article by Lawrence Cunningham, Concurring Opinions