April in Omaha: My Invitation to 2011 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting

by Deb Subia, Editorial Process Development Manager, Business Wire

Deb Subia


A dozen lucky Business Wire employees from several U.S. bureaus and London joined CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz in Omaha for the 2011 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting.  I was thrilled to be one of them.

Never having been, I was anxious to attend the meeting – okay, experience the EVENT – I had heard and read so much about over the years. I had heard so much of the “Berkshire Buzz” and the celebratory nature of the event!

Business Wire has long been known as a company with a family atmosphere.  I had the sense being around other Berkshire Hathaway companies that I was part of an even bigger family.

Selling show-themed passport booklets that included “smashed” pennies with images of Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, the Annual Meeting date, and Business Wire’s 50thAnniversary crest to raise money for a local youth charity, CASA for Douglas County, Nebraska, was quite an experience.  It’s not every day you hear a co-worker say, “You want to get Warren’s head smashed on a penny?” Thanks to generous attendees, Business Wire sold out of passport booklets, raising more than $5,500 for CASA, all while having a lot of laughs and meeting some great people.

Cathy Baron Tamraz, Warren Buffett and Business Wire CTO Steve Messick operating the penny press

I was surprised at the diversity of the shareholders and delighted with the young investors-to-be who came by our booth.  One told me it was his first time attending and he was “so excited and overwhelmed and wanting to take everything in at the same time.”  I think he summarized the way many first-timers felt. Certainly learning early about ethics and patience in investing will leave a lasting impression.

The piece of advice I’ll most remember came from Charlie Munger and was about not making important decisions in anger: “You can always tell a man to go to hell tomorrow.”

I was impressed with Buffett’s smile, busy schedule and ability to handle questions hour after hour.  Coupled with the fact that he’s 80 years old, it is mind-boggling.  I’m  seriously considering adding a steady stream of Coke and See’s Candies to my diet.

The Business Wire 2011 Berkshire Hathaway Meeting booth crew

Overall, what I most took away surprised me. It was more universal than investment advice: passion for what you do, the desire to learn more all the time, the importance of becoming a better communicator, patience.  Buffett, at the core, is a teacher as well as an investor.

See more photos from the 2011 Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder’s Meeting at our Facebook page.

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