“Nothing Will Compare”: A Carroll School Freshman Meets the Oracle of Omaha
In early April, Meagan Loyst ’19 had dinner with Warren Buffett at a steakhouse in Omaha, Nebraska, where his multinational holding company, Berkshire Hathaway, is headquartered. She was one of 20 college students from around the country at the dinner—but she sat right next to the man. Organizing the gathering was Smart Women Securities, a national nonprofit organization for undergraduate women interested in finance and investments. Loyst, who is studying fnance and information systems at the Carroll School and is from Long Island, New York, sits on the executive board of the organization’s Boston College chapter. She filled out an application to join in the trip to Nebraska, and was one of only three first-year students accepted (the only one from Boston College). Here’s Loyst’s story of her dinner conversation with the Oracle of Omaha, as told to Carroll School communications staff member Stefanie Tracey.
At dinner I got to sit right next to Warren Buffett. It was almost like talking to your grandpa. He was so down to earth. It was a very informal setting so we could ask him anything on our minds. And we got like three hours with him. People pay close to $2 million to have an hour at lunch with him and we had him for free.
During a visit to the Gallup Organization [on the first of two days in Omaha], I learned that Gallup believes in focusing on improving your strengths rather than your weaknesses. So I asked Warren Buffett what he thought about that. He said—improving his weaknesses. He talked about how public speaking was something he struggled with early on in life, so to improve that he went to a Dale Carnegie speaking course, which definitely helped his confidence and his public speaking skills. And he said communication is a huge deal: “If you can’t communicate, it’s like winking at a girl in the dark, nothing happens.”
I interned at Citi the summer going into my senior year of high school, and we did an elevator pitch workshop. The basis of that was, “If you have 30 seconds with Warren Buffett in an elevator, what would you say to him?” So it was so funny because then I was really sitting next to Warren Buffett. I asked him about the elevator pitch: If I were to have those 30 seconds in an elevator with you, what would you want to hear?
He said that being a self-starter is huge—having the personal motivation to put yourself out there and talk about your strengths and why you think you’d be a great fit. He said that when Tracy Britt Cool, our co-founder [of Smart Women Securities, and a Buffett employee], wanted to go work at Berkshire, there weren’t any positions open. But to make herself stand out she brought him corn from her family farm. And she was constantly checking back with him. He could tell that she was a self-starter, someone who wants to make stuff happen.
After the trip, we were all speechless. We did all this research so we were obviously excited to meet him, but having the opportunity to talk to someone who came from nothing to being the third richest man in the world is incredible. He had so much wisdom to share and we were all just soaking in everything. We all compared notes after the trip. I called my parents right afterwards and told them it was a top moment of my life. Nothing will compare. We had the opportunity to talk with him about whatever we wanted. We talked about his investment strategies, his life, if he had advice for us—things you can’t find online. We had the opportunity to really see into his life. It was just amazing.
Loyst also attended a larger session with Buffett that afternoon involving students from several different groups. During a Q&A, “One of the questions was, ‘If you ever went back to college, what classes would you want to take or recommend we take?’ He said, ‘You should definitely know how to value a business. That’s what buying stocks is all about. And also take a class on how to think about the markets and market fluctuations.’ That’s a huge part of what he does,” she said.