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7 Priceless Business Quotes from Warren Buffett

by Joseph Putnam

Photo taken at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, CA.

Recently, Forbes held the first Forbes 400 summit, which was a meeting between legendary investor Warren Buffett and rap business mogul Jay-Z. The main event was an hour-long talk with Steve Forbes interviewing Mr. Buffett and Jay-Z.

You can read the full interview by visiting the Forbes website. I've also included some of Mr. Buffett's most salient business advice below. His quote about how to beat Bobby Fischer is my favorite. What's your favorite quote?

Quote #1
"There's a whole bunch of things I don't know a thing about. I just stay away from those. I stay within what I call my circle of competence. Tom Watson [IBM founder] said it best. He said, 'I'm no genius, but I'm smart in spots, and I stay around those spots.'"

Quote #2
"That's a little bit like these rules I have. The first rule is don't lose, and the second rule is never forget the first rule. It isn't so much having a lot of brilliant decisions, it's just not having some terrible ones."

Quote #3
"[Ben Graham] also taught me to see a stock not as something with a ticker symbol that wiggles around but to think about it as part of a business. Don't get elated because something had gone up or depressed because it went down. If I knew the facts, and it went down, I bought more of it. He also taught me that famous lesson about a margin of safety, that you don't drive a truck that weighs 9,900 pounds across a bridge that says "Limit 10,000 pounds" because you can't be that sure. If you see something like that, go a little further down the road and find one that says, "Limit 20,000 pounds." That's one you drive across."

Quote #4
"I had the luck of getting turned down by Harvard, which meant I got to study under Ben Graham at Columbia, which changed my life. All kinds of things have worked out. So I just hope I stay lucky. I've been lucky for 80 years."

Quote #5
"But if you've got the principles, if you know what makes a good business, if you know what makes a good manager, if you know what makes a good product, and you learn that in one business, there is some transference to other businesses. As you go along, you learn what things you're not going to understand. Knowing what to leave out is just as important as knowing what to focus on. Somebody said how to beat Bobby Fischer; you play him any game except chess. And so I don't play Bobby Fischer at chess."

Quote #6
"When my wife was pregnant, I didn't think I was going to deliver a baby. If I get a toothache or something, I don't take out my own tooth. I turn it over. I follow Adam Smith's advice; turn it over to a specialist."

Quote #7
"Part of making good decisions in business is recognizing the poor decisions you've made and why they were poor. I've made lots of mistakes. I'm going to make more. It's the name of the game. You don't want to expect perfection in yourself. You want to strive to do your best. It's too demanding to expect perfection in yourself."

Photo Credit: Fortune Live Media

You can follow Joseph Putnam on Twitter @josephputnam.

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