Flashback to Warren Buffet – and his great advice

If you have seen me travel, you have seen me with a pile of magazines, going through them methodically, tearing out articles that seem relevant and of interest. Sometimes I read them immediately, sometimes I “save them for later when I have time.”

I brought such a pile of magazine tear-sheets with me to Tinos to read during my two weeks of R&R. And in the middle of them, somehow, I found very old notes (like from 11/14/2002 old!) about a speech I heard Warren Buffet give at the McDonough School of Business. I am not sure how these notes go into this pile, and I am not sure how they survived the last 16 years (!!) but they are timeless and still so very relevant today.

Buffet’s advice:

  • Do work you love and are passionate about.
  • Always follow the front-page test: if you don’t want your words or actions on the front page of the Washington Post, don’t say or do the thing.
  • Think about who your heroes are.
  • Don’t marry for money, especially if you’re already rich!
  • Don’t save sex for old age. (Yes, he did say that!)
  • Your life’s success is measured by who loves and respects you.
  • There is no such thing as “business ethics.” There’s just ethics.
  • Don’t pay attention to the economy. Focus on what is knowable and what is important.
  • Don’t be envious, it only makes you feel bad.
  • Run your business like it’s your only asset and you can’t sell it for 100 years.
  • Don’t be bought.
  • What you are later in life is determined today. Have good mind and body habits.
  • There are a lot of things you can’t control – but you can control the type of person you are.

 

On the privilege and responsibility of citizenship

Only for the second time do I celebrate today’s Independence Day as an American citizen (albeit from Tinos, Greece). On April 14, 2015, I became a citizen of this country I have loved and lived in for 20+ years. Today’s 4th of July however is particularly special to me, because in the last 3 months I experienced two of the responsibilities that come with citizenship.

For the first time in May, I was called for Jury Duty service by DC District Court. For 11 business days I had to call an automated number, enter my pin, and listen to a recorded message that told me if or not I had to report to court the following day. I never had to. I had to postpone two work trips and was even wary of scheduling calls and meetings locally for fear of having to cancel at the last minute. These 11 days taught me (or perhaps more accurately, reminded me) what a luxury a day that is not over-scheduled is. I had entire hours with no calls or meetings – work, yes, but no scheduled obligations. I made unscheduled phonecalls, caught up on a number of key projects, and made spontaneous plans with friends.

For the first time June, I voted. On a beautiful summer morning I walked a few blocks to a church and was welcomed by a team of well-dressed, smiling, volunteers. I was expecting the voting process to be impersonal and automated; instead it was emotional and involved pen and paper and an envelope that needed to be licked to be sealed. The pride and sense of accomplishment that came with placing that sealed ballot in the ballot box was completely unexpected, and all the more powerful.

Today, as I did last July, I celebrate Independence Day as a citizen of the United States. Today, for the first time, I do so having experienced the privilege and responsibility of citizenship.

Summer 2016 Reading List

As for the past few years, I have the privilege to again spend two weeks on the magical island of Tinos, Greece. There are many pleasures that come with this two-week vacation, and one of them is the pleasure of spending endless hours reading. I have shared my summer reading lists in the past (Summer 2012 Reading List and Summer 2013 Reading List), this is the list for this summer.

 

The last two Phillip Margolin Dana Cutler books (I have read the first two already, in the context of book club): Capitol Murder and Sleight of Hand. These take place between DC and Oregon, are true page-turners, and the perfect beach read.

 

Two Mary Higgins Clark books – The Melody Lingers On and As Time Goes By. These are a guilty pleasure, I have read all of her books and realizing there were two “new to me” ones was a wonderful surprise.

 

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. This novel was recommended to me by my brilliant friend and novelist Karin Tanabe (her book The Gilded Years would be on this list but I read it before leaving). Written by an Italian author, this story of friendship takes place in Naples. I can’t wait to start it.

 

Four business books that have been on my reading list for many months – I am hoping after some binge fiction reading my brain will be ready to take these on:

 

An inspiration book recommended to me by Cindy Feldman, one of my mentors: The Dan Sullivan Question. She has gone to his conferences and can’t speak highly enough of them. Reading his book on the beach might be the next best thing.

 

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. With over 3 million copies sold, this book needs no introduction. In a world that leans towards over-consumption, I am and have always been a minimalist – quality over quantity. I can’t wait to read her perspective on downsizing, tidying up, cleaning, organizing closets, and more.

 

And of course, I had to bring one of my mother’s books. 25 Os + L’astragal. Per the book jacket, this is her 25th published book. I went to her book reading last week (perhaps better called performance, it involved painting a foot blue, and original guitar music and singing), and can’t wait to discover the rest of this text.

 
Let the days on Tinos be long enough for me to get through this reading list…

Beach Beauty

The week of July 4th is one of my very favorite weeks of the year – not so much because of Independence Day, but because I spend this week on the Greek island of Tinos. The days are filled with swimming in the very salty sea, sand, rest, rosé wine, and Greek salads. Given that I spend eight hours on average at the beach each day, my beach bag beauty essentials are, well, essential. Here are my must-haves.

Even though I will exclusively be in the shade under an umbrella (except when swimming), I protect my face and body with the La Roche Posay Anthelios XL 50+ sunscreen oil. It smells delicious, has the texture of a dry oil, and is water resistant. On my face, I’ll layer that over the Alchimie Forever prototype of our Daily Defense cream SPF 23 (in the blue bottle), for added antioxidant protection from vitamins C and E, and blueberry and edelweiss extracts.

At the end of the day, when leaving the beach, I’ll slather on my Protective Day Cream, which is lightweight enough for the heat, and our Antioxidant Skin Repair Gel on my body – yes, it is for men, but I love the gel texture and the fresh scent. And all of the anti-inflammatory ingredients are great for post-sun exposure.

To keep my hair frizz-free and to prevent the sun and salt from drying it out, I spray the Aveda Sun Care on a few times per day.

To make my pre-vacation manicure and pedicure last, I carry with me SpaRitual’s Twinkle Shimmer blue (for my toes) and Christian Dior’s Nail Glow (for my fingers) with me (I love that product, it really does make the pink part of my nails pinker, and the white part whiter!).

Finally, I don’t leave the house without my favorite summer product, Huile Prodigieuse by Nuxe. I use it on my face, body, and hair, to nourish my skin and give it a nice glow and prevent dryness from the salt. I even use it in lieu of fragrance, the aroma is so wonderful. No wonder Nuxe sells one of these every 6 seconds!

On that note, I am off to the beach…

Lunch with the Godfather of DC

A delicious lunch on a Thursday at the Ritz Carlton in Georgetown is nothing to avoid. That same delicious lunch featuring Carol Joynt’s Q&A Café with former DC Mayor Marion Barry is even better. And that lunch after this week’s book club, which was on Dream City, a book by Harry Jaffe and Tom Sherwood about Marion Barry is even better. Timing is everything…

Fellow book club member and bestie Kate and I had the opportunity to listen to the “godfather of DC” answer Joynt’s questions. More often than not, he answered her questions with a question… and a twinkle in his eye. Some of the highlights of the interview are below.

The most fun part of the lunch, however, was meeting him. I have to admit that having now met the (in)famous Barry, I like him a lot more than when I finished the book. I had brought Dream City with me, I wanted Barry to sign it for me. For those of you who have not read Dream City, it does not portray him in a very favorable light… I went up to Barry at the end of the luncheon, with the book open on a page with a great photograph of him, and the jacket off the cover. I asked him to please autograph his photo. “What book is this?” he asks, not a fool… I say “the Sherwood book, please…” he chuckles, I plead sheepishly, he asks for my name, and signs the photo. Highlight of my day.

Kate and I sit back down, finishing our coffee, when we learn that Jaffe, one of the Dream City co-authors, is at the table across from us. Now this is a small world, and indeed, timing is everything. After meeting the subject of the book, we met the author of the book. Funnily enough, other book club member and bestie Cathy had called Jaffe out of the blue (they have a Washingtonian Magazine connection) on Tuesday morning (the day of book club) to ask him a few questions, and invite him to come. While he couldn’t on such short notice, he promised to come, with Sherwood, later this winter. Would he autograph my book? He did, and I didn’t even have to hide the jacket…

Q&A Café highlights:

On Georgetown

Barry: I love Georgetown, I love every part of the city. Georgetown residents just don’t want to have anything change.

On Presidential Politics

Barry: I am a lifelong liberal progressive democrat.

To Joynt’s question about Romeny’s comments on the 47%, Barry merely replied by saying that he has “fought against injustice and discrimination all of my life.” “The majority of that 47% are not victims. They are not poor because they did wrong.” Indeed, Barry admitted that it was unthinkable for him to imaging Romney as president.

Barry: Obama will win the race.

On DC Home Rule

While Barry thinks Obama has indeed been good for DC, he wants more. He wants statehood for our Capital.

Barry: Democracy depends on democracy, yet we don’t have democracy in our own home. We need statehood.

On DC Politics

Joynt also brought up the topic of the current City Council and mayoral scandals.

Barry: I won’t call names.

Barry said he would be voting for Philip Mendelson as Council Chair. Should Gray be indicted, should he resign, Mendelson would then become the Mayor of DC. Joynt: Is Washington DC ready for a white mayor?

Barry: Some people are, some people aren’t.

Joynt: What does that mean? Which people are you?

Barry: I’m ready for democracy.

Joynt: Could you campaign for and endorse a white candidate?

Barry: That is a “what if,” I don’t get into what ifs.

Joynt: Are you going to run for reelection?

Barry: I’m smarter than that… than to answer that question.

On Family

Joynt asked Barry about his family. His son Christopher, now 32, lives in Ward 8 and runs a small business. “He is struggling, like most small businesses” admits Barry. And of course he is interested in politics “he’s been around me his whole life…”. About marriage, well, Cora did come up in conversation.

Joynt: Are you still married?

Barry: Technically, yes. [chuckle from the audience, pause] Cora and I separated.

On Addiction

Barry: The FBI spent 10 to 15 million dollars to frame me. The good news is that I have been clean since 1990. Joynt: You can only blame the government for so much.

Barry: I am a victim. They set me up. The jury understood that. Like many, I got caught in an addiction… 90 percent of those who get addicted don’t kick it. I’m proud of that.

Overall, Barry says, that was “just a chapter in my life. Well, maybe two chapters.” It’s just about being a human being, about “human being issues, like traffic problems and girlfriend issues.”

On Racism

Joynt: Where are we on racism?

Barry: There is racial division all over America.

Joynt: Do you think you are being racist when you slur against Asians?

Barry: No

Joynt: Are there any Asians on your staff?

Barry: No

Joynt: Are there any Latinos on your staff?
Barry: No

On the Media

Barry: The media in DC does not give me a fair shake. Absolutely not. That’s their nature. Newspapers are supposed to report the news, not make the news.

On Power

Joynt: Whoever becomes the next Mayor of DC, do they need you?

Barry: Absolutely. I’m probably the most successful politician in Washington DC.

Joynt: Mayor for life. Who are you really?

Barry: I’m Marion Barry.

Book Club: Mortal Friends by Jane Stanton Hitchcock

One of my New Year’s resolutions this year was to read more. As I was taught in business school that goals need to be quantifiable and measurable, I decided that I should read one book per month. And as my Mom taught me that nothing gets the job done more effectively than having to answer to people you respect, I decided to start a book club with a group of BFFs to help me be true to my goal.

Tonight was our second meeting. In theory, it was meant to be our third (it’s our third book), but life happens. We decided early on that our theme was going to be DC (DC author, DC personality, DC story, DC character), and that we would alternate a fiction book with a non-fiction book.

First book: I picked Right as Rain by George Pelecanos. My Swiss uncle, of all people, had been asking me about this author, saying he had read all his books and wondered if DC was as it was portrayed in these crime stories. I didn’t know how to answer him until I read this introduction to Derek Strange and Terry Quinn. After reading the book, I emailed him to let him know that these are not the areas in DC or MD that I usually hung out in.

Second book: Jack Kennedy, Elusive Hero, by Chris Matthews. If you read my blog regularly, you might remember that two years ago during my week-long vacation on the paradisiac island of Tinos, the theme I picked for my beach reading was the Kennedys. I read eight books about the Kennedys, many of them recommended by my literary connoisseur BFF Stephanie, many of them recommended by equally Kennedy-fascinated BFF Judith. I loved them all. Adding to this fascination, reading the Chris Matthews biography, I for the first time grasped JFK’s constant physical pain, on-going loneliness, and PT 109 rescue story.

Searching for another fiction book with a DC-theme, Stephanie again recommended a winner: Mortal Friends by Jane Stanton Hitchcock. I love Stephanie, I listen to Stephanie. Always. In particular when she says she might be able to get the very Jane author to stop by our book club get-together.

Which brings me to tonight. I grew up with art, with parents who owned (still own) a contemporary art gallery. That is where my appreciation for art comes from – from the ability to speak to living artists and better understand from them directly, what it is they wanted to create, what message it is they wanted to convey to the world, what difference it is they wanted to make with their art.

I never have had the opportunity to have such a connection to a living author – that is, until tonight. Jane arrived promptly at 6 pm, dressed in a gorgeous black cocktail dress. I couldn’t quite believe it… For three hours, she regaled us with stories about how she started writing (her first book was Trick of the Eye), and how she started her career as a playwright and screenwriter (including a comedy directed by Harold Pinter). As soon as I am done typing this, I will be ordering her New York-based Social Crimes and its sequel One Dangerous Lady.

Given that tonight’s book club meeting was about Mortal Friends, of course we chatted about the DC social scene (per Jane, “there are only two reasons to go to a party: to get a job or to get laid”). We also talked about girlfriends, about the relationship between Reven Lynch and Violet Bolton. About whether or not you ever get to know anyone for whom they really are. About whether you tell your deepest secrets to your BFF. About whether you would tell her something that might hurt her, but that she would want to know. We talked about the difference between “social friends” and “best friends.” Jane said that her loftiest goal was loyalty. She talked about how loyalty with girlfriends doesn’t (typically) get side-tracked by the physical relationship typical of complicating things between a man and a woman. “In love, I can forgive anything.” In BFF relationships, without sex to confuse things, loyalty should be first and foremost and unending – as the friendship between Reven and Violet illustrates.

After such a fabulous evening, I want to:

  1. Read all of Jane Stanton Hitchcock’s other books.
  2. Continue book club forever.
  3. Let all of my girlfriends know how much I love them and how I will always be loyal to them.

Thank you Jane.