Bill Gates shares most important thing he learnt from Warren Buffett

Bill Gates shares most important thing he learnt from Warren Buffett

Microsoft founder Bill Gates has paid tribute to his friend and fellow multi-billionaire Warren Buffett, saying that meeting the investor 25 years ago changed his life "for the better in every imaginable way".

Writing in his Gatesnotes blog, the world's richest man recalled being initially reluctant to take time off from his work at Microsoft in July 1991 to meet with the Berkshire Hathaway CEO.

But at their meeting, Mr Buffett immediately made an impression due to his questions about the software business and computing.

"We were suddenly lost in conversation and hours and hours slipped by. He didn't come across as a big shot investor. He had this modest way of talking about what he does. He was funny, but what impressed me most was how clearly he thought about the world. It was a deep friendship from our very first conversation," he wrote.

Mr Gates reveals that he only has two numbers on speed dial from his office phone: his home and Mr Buffett, and says that a conversation with the latter would be the highlight of his week.

"I'm constantly learning things from him. Warren and I love to talk about companies, politics, world events, and new innovations. And it's really exciting to have somebody who's studying these things with a bit of a different background," he says, adding that Mr Buffett is like a father figure to him.

He also revealed that Mr Buffett's favourite foods include hamburgers, ice cream and Coca-Cola, and shared an amusing anecdote about how the Omaha billionaire once set a bad example for the Gates' children by eating a packet Oreo biscuits for breakfast.

Mr Gates said that every time he visited Omaha, Mr Buffett would drive to the airport to pick him up.

"It's a small gesture, but it means the world to me," he wrote, adding that the most important thing he had learnt from Mr Buffett is what friendship is all about.

"Everyone should be lucky enough to have a friend who is as thoughtful and kind as Warren. He goes out of his way to make people feel good about themselves and share his joy about life," he wrote.

Both Mr Gates and Mr Buffett are among the world's richest individuals. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Mr Gates is ranked first with a net worth of US$83.5 billion (S$112.34 billion), while Mr Buffett is the 3rd richest person in the world with a net worth of US$66 billion.

Mr Buffett is also a trustee with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which focuses on improving healthcare and education and reducing poverty. Last year, he donated about US$2.84 million of Berkshire Hathaway stock to the foundation.

seanyap@sph.com.sg

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