This Teachers' Day, we can celebrate the teachings our teachers have imbibed in us. We can learn a lot from them and even from the famous teachers of others. One such eminent teacher is Benjamin Graham who was a professor of finance at Columbia Business School where the Oracle of Omaha Warren Buffett was a student.
Buffett also worked for Graham’s company Graham-Newman Corporation, until the latter retired.
Besides Buffett, a number of other famous investors who studied and worked under Graham include Irving Kahn, Christopher Browne and Walter Schloss.
Graham was known as the ‘father of investing’ who wrote several books including The Intelligent Investor (1949), which Buffett also read when he was a young college student.
In one of his interviews,Buffett said that had he not read that book in 1958, he would have had a different future.
“It (book) instantly clicked with me that what he was saying made sense and the chance to study under him was a different experience,” he said.
Here we encapsulate some of the learnings that Buffett learnt from his teacher and mentor.
Being foolish at times: In his 2018 shareholder letter, he said that the markets will remain volatile and in order to seize the opportunities, investors don’t need to have great intelligence, a degree in economics or a familiarity with Wall Street jargon.
What investors then need instead is an ability to both disregard mob fears or enthusiasms and to focus on a few simple fundamentals. A willingness to look unimaginative for a sustained period or even to look foolish is also essential.
Being creative: Being creative means using knowledge and intelligence to create and innovate something new.
One can be creative only when one is willing to think outside the box. Buffett is known as a creative genius who absorbs Graham’s lessons on value investing and makes them into his own ideas.
“A remarkable aspect of Ben’s dominance of his professional field was that he achieved it without the narrowness of mental activity that concentrates all efforts on a single end. It was, rather, the incidental byproduct of an intellect whose breadth almost exceeded definition,” Buffett says in Graham’s remembrance letter.
Being generous: Buffett learned generosity from him and he once said that clarity was required, there was no better place to go. “And if encouragement was needed, Ben was there,” Buffett said in reference to Graham.
Upon learning generosity from Graham, Buffett has donated the bulk of his money to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.