Economics Club has lunch, Q&A session with Warren Buffet


Photo Courtesy of Economics club

Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, poses for a photo with students from Iowa State.

Travis Charlson

A few ISU students had the opportunity of a lifetime earlier this month — picking the brain of business magnate Warren Buffett.

Twenty students from the Economics Club met in Omaha, Neb., with seven other universities from across the nation at Berkshire Hathaway headquarters, the company that Buffett serves as CEO, president and chairman of the board. The trip included a two-hour Q&A session with Buffet, a tour of Nebraska Furniture Mart and lunch with the famous investor.

“It was a big deal that Iowa State got to go,” said Locky Catron, senior in agricultural business. “There were a lot of MBAs there, so for a group of undergrads from Iowa State to go was a really big deal.”

The trip was two years in the making, said Hieu Nguyen, senior in finance and president of the Economics Club.

Two years ago, an adviser gave Nguyen a pass to attend Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholders meeting.

“What is a Berkshire, and who is this Warren Buffett?” Nguyen said, recounting what he previously knew of the billionaire investor. “After that first year, I knew that this was something I wanted the club to attend every year.”

After doing his research and attending the shareholder’s meeting, Nguyen was determined. He, along with the vice president of the club, started writing letters to Buffett and his secretary, asking if they could attend one of Buffett’s Q&As for students. This landed them on a waiting list along with 200 other schools.

When the call from Buffett’s secretary came months later, Nguyen and the Economics Club jumped at the opportunity.

Warren Buffett is one of the most successful investors of the 20th century and, according to Forbes, the second richest man in America. Despite vast amounts of wealth and his business savvy, he is noted as being personable and philanthropic.

“He’s a very friendly and humble person,” Catron said. “At lunch I sat right across from him. We talked, and we had root beer floats.”

Catron pointed out that the only major difference between a lifestyle like hers and the billionaire’s is the way in which they traveled — Buffett uses a private jet to get around.

“He lives in a simple house. He eats at McDonalds and Dairy Queen. He’s just a simple living, frugal person,” Catron said.

Nguyen said that it wasn’t his wealth or fame that made him admire Buffett but rather his knowledge and personal qualities.

“He has such an amazing mind,” Nguyen said. “He can simplify any matter into layman’s terms.”

Both Catron and Nguyen said one of the biggest things they learned from the trip was focus. One of the most important attributes to be successful, Buffett said, was to have focus. And there must be a passion to have focus.

“[The trip] was a motivation to work on the skills I have, to keep going and strive to do my best, and [Buffett] really stressed the importance of communication,” Catron said. “The best quote from him was, ‘If you can’t communicate, it’s like winking at a girl in the dark.’”

Nguyen hopes the Economics club can take advantage of events like this in the future and is glad that the club is able to provide these opportunities for students.

“For me it was a dream come true,” Nguyen said. “I’m sure everybody had a blast.”