Bruce Frankel

Author of the new book "What Should I Do with the Rest of My Life? True Stories of Finding Success, Passion, and New Meaning in the Second Half of Life."

Warren Buffet Upgrades Forecast: Turns 80, Predicts He’ll Work Past 100

August 30, 2010

As Warren Buffet celebrates his 80th birthday today, the “Oracle of Omaha” is also applying to himself the principles that have made him a master investor.

Once again, he’s betting on intrinsic value and longevity: This time, his own.


While talk of who will succeed Buffet as the chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway continues to ramp up, he has revised the outlook he offered shareholders in 2007. Back then, based on actuarial tables, he figured he’d hang around until at least 88. Now, he tells Deal Journal, “I plan to work past 100, but to do so I may have to learn to think outside the box.”

Meanwhile, Buffett’s followers say he is only getting better with age, writes Serena Ng in today’s Wall Street Journal. Because he loves his work, “Buffet has no intention of stepping down.”

The return on his investments, including taking positions in Geico, Benjamin Moore, See’s Candies, Dairy Queen, and NetJets, must make his work easy to love. An investment of just $1,000 into Berkshire Hathaway in 1965, would be worth millions today.

The relationship between his food choices and longevity is harder to figure. Well known for his love of hamburgers, Cherry Cokes, hash browns, in The Snowball he tells his biographer Alice Schroeder, “Broccoli, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts look to me like Chinese food crawling around on a plate.  Cauliflower almost makes me sick.  I eat carrots reluctantly.  I don’t like sweet potatoes.  I don’t even want to be close to a rhubarb, it makes me retch.”

But last year, he said he had reformed. In answer to the advice from a New Jersey nutritional dentist who encouraged him to eat more healthy food and take nutritional supplements, he claimed in the Omaha World-Journal:

“My diet, though far from standard, is somewhat better than usually portrayed. I have a wonderful doctor who nudges me in your direction every time I see him.  All in all, I’ve enjoyed remarkably good health — largely because of genes, of course — but also, I think, because I enjoy life so much every day.”  When his doctor told him that he had to either change his diet or exercise, he picked “the lesser of two evils,” he said. 

Of course, I would be quick to point out that it’s not really a choice. Long-term well being depends on both. And investing an hour a day in exercise is known to offer the kind of long-term returns he appreciates.

So far, though, Buffett has shown no signs of ill health. “But he has acknowledged there may come a time when his mental faculties begin to fade,” writes Ng. “He said he expects Bill Gates— a longtime friend, bridge partner and member of the Berkshire board—to tell him if it is time to step down.” In his letter to shareholders a few years ago, he also noted that when a person’s abilities decline so usually do their powers of self-assessment. “Someone else often needs to blow the whistle.”

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