Moral core secret of success
28 July, 2017
Bruce McLaren and Warren Buffett documentaries reveal key qualities for success.
Of the many films viewed en route to a recent European holiday, two documentaries, Becoming Warren Buffett and McLaren, have had a lasting impact.
The documentaries provided insights into the personal lives of two successful men – McLaren the driver and race car designer; Buffett the famed investor – and the women who contributed to their success.
I particularly related to the McLaren film because it encapsulated the Kiwi can-do spirit and it depicted the altogether less complicated way of life that prevailed in New Zealand in the sixties.
Watching racing enthusiast Bruce McLaren commit his energy and passion to win races, here and on the international stage, and then build the McLaren car, brand and legacy that exists today made me proud to be a Kiwi.
The film’s conclusion was particularly moving as teammates and competitors tearfully recalled McLaren’s tragic death at Goodwood, aged 32. They remembered a humble man whose enthusiasm and resilience allowed him to beat the odds.
The other film introduced Warren Buffett the man, rather than the investor. It has plenty of references to his investment philosophy but featuresBuffett’s children, wife and colleagues who describe a far more complex man than the down-home, folksy character we’ve known.
I had already known of his love of numbers and early interest in the stock market; I also knew he was an early entrepreneur, selling soda door to door and delivering 500 newspapers a day to make money to invest.
But this documentary differed from other biographies in giving a glimpse of his philosophy of life beyond money. Buffett spoke candidly about his flaws and his devotion to his wife Susie, who made him the man he is today.
Most of the film is about Buffett’s often difficult relationships with the people he loves the most. He admits personal relationships don’t come easily and while “financial questions are easy, it’s the human problems that are the tough ones.”
His children painted a picture of a man so focused on investing you’d have to “speak to him in sound bites, because if you went on for too long you would lose him to whatever giant thought he has in his head.”
Interestingly, the attributes that made it challenging for Buffett to deal with people are the very same that made him such a brilliant investor.
His ability to buy and hold investments through inevitable market fluctuations was not about insight; it was his ability to divorce himself from emotion and remain rational when others were not.
Like the McLaren film, the biggest takeaway of Becoming Buffett for me was the portrayal of the man’s moral core.
The documentary shows a man with integrity, devotion, loyalty and absolute generosity.
When Warren Buffett announced in 2006 he was giving away 85 per cent of his wealth to the Gates Foundation, he was acknowledged as one of today’s greatest philanthropists.
The film depicts a modest man, living a modest lifestyle, with a love of making money not because of what money brings, but because of what it can do for others.
Buffett talks about having just one body and one mind that has to last a lifetime because “that’s all you’re going to get”. His attitude to money is similar; he has spent his life making money to last his lifetime.
Everything else, he’ll give away.