Ask Warren Buffett: Humour a tool to make even the dull rather palatable

Decades back, Warren Buffett mastered the use humour to lighten what could otherwise be a dull message. His annual letter to Berkshire shareholders, the latest edition of which was distributed last weekend, once again draws deeply on this particular well:

  • When discussing Berkshire’s flexibility in capital allocation, Buffett noted: “Woody Allen once explained that the advantage of being bi-sexual was that it doubles your chance of finding a date on Saturday night.”
  • On his famous pick-carefully-then-hands-off management style, Warren quoted vice chairman Charlie Munger’s advice: “If you want to guarantee yourself a lifetime of misery, be sure to marry someone with the intent of changing their behavior.”
  • And on the way economic progress changes lives, Buffett mentions how, in his 50s, he never thought he’s need a personal computer, but now: “I now spend ten hours a week playing bridge online. And, as I write this letter, “search” is invaluable to me. (I’m not ready for Tinder, however.)”

Imagine reference to a dating website appearing in a South African annual report? Some lightening up is long overdue. A good place to start would be for the CE to write the report themselves – rather than outsourcing to the comms department.

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