October 7, 2008
Staff Picks: BusinessWeek review of The Snowball
Buffett's Ferocious Focus
...Buffett himself has attributed his success to "focus." Schroeder writes: "He ruled out paying attention to almost anything but business--art, literature, science, travel, architecture--so that he could focus on his passion." As a child, Schroeder relates, Warren carried around a coin-changer as his prized possession, and when his dad offered him a trip at age 10, he asked to go to the New York Stock Exchange (NYX). Not long after, Buffett read a book called One Thousand Ways to Make $1,000 and announced to a friend that he was going to be a millionaire by the time he was 35. "That was an audacious, almost silly-sounding statement for a child to make in the depressed world of 1941," Schroeder writes. "But...he was sure he could do it."
...However, at 838 pages not counting footnotes and index, the book itself would have benefited from some focus. And a good editor might have cut a few of Schroeder's pet phrases, such as "elephant bumping," which she uses to refer to gatherings of the rich and powerful. But despite these quibbles, The Snowball is an astute, and at times riveting, read--especially now.
It's a very favorable review and will give you a good idea of the book's content and tone. I know Jack is working his way through it right now and will likely have thoughts to offer soon.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.