“How to Win Friends and Influence People” – A Great Book I Learned About Thanks To Warren Buffett… Plus A Great Poem!

When I read the Snowball it stroke me how sensible Warren Buffet was towards criticism and how much his critical mother’s behavior affected him and his elder sister. In that book it is mentioned that one of the best things he ever learned about how to behave was from a self improvement course he took in order to learn how to overcome his fears and speak in public. The man dictating the course was Dale Carnegie who wrote a book called “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. That’s one of the best books I’m reading now (another one is Dan Ariely’s “Predictably Irrational; The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions”). Carnegie’s book is a great self improvement book, entertaining, and refreshingly written. It starts by showing how important it is to avoid criticizing. I’m just on Part One: Fundamental Techniques In Handling People, “If You Want To Gather Honey, Don’t Kick Over The Beehive”. One of the things that impressed me most was a poem mentioned in the book. Here is a transcript :

Father Forgets
by W. Livingston Larned

Listen, son:
I am saying this as you lie asleep,
one little paw crumpled under your cheek and
the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead.
I have stolen into your room alone.
Just a few minutes ago,
as I sat reading my paper in the library,
a stifling wave of remorse swept over me.
Guiltily I came to your bedside.

These are the things I was thinking,
son: I had been cross to you.
I scolded you as you were dressing for school
because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel.
I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes.
I called out angrily
when you threw some of your things on the floor.

At breakfast I found fault, too.
You spilled things.
You gulped down your food.
You put your elbows on the table.
You spread butter too thick on your bread.
And as you started off to play
and I made for my train,
you turned and waved a hand
and called, ‘Goodbye, Daddy!’
and I frowned, and said in reply,
‘Hold your shoulders back!’

Then it began all over again in the late afternoon.
As I came up the road I spied you,
down on your knees, playing marbles.
There were holes in your stockings.
I humiliated you before your boyfriends
by marching you ahead of me to the house.
Stockings were expensive -
and if you had to buy them you would be more careful!
Imagine that, son, from a father!

Do you remember,
later, when I was reading in the library,
how you came in timidly,
with a sort of hurt look in your eyes?
When I glanced up over my paper,
impatient at the interruption,
you hesitated at the door.
‘What is it you want?’ I snapped.
You said nothing,
but ran across in one tempestuous plunge,
and threw your arms around my neck
and kissed me,
and your small arms tightened
with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart
and which even neglect could not wither.
And then you were gone,
pattering up the stairs.

Well, son,
it was shortly afterwards
that my paper slipped from my hands
and a terrible sickening fear came over me.
What has habit been doing to me?
The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding
- this was my reward to you for being a boy.
It was not that I did not love you;
it was that I expected too much of youth.
I was measuring you
by the yardstick of my own years.

And there was so much that was good and fine
and true in your character.
The little heart of you
was as big as the dawn itself
over the wide hills.
This was shown by your spontaneous impulse
to rush in and kiss me good night.
Nothing else matters tonight, son.
I have come to your bedside in the darkness,
and I have knelt there, ashamed!

It is a feeble atonement;
I know you would not understand these things
if I told them to you during your waking hours.
But tomorrow
I will be a real daddy!
I will chum with you,
and suffer when you suffer,
and laugh when you laugh.
I will bite my tongue
when impatient words come.
I will keep saying as if it were a ritual:
‘He is nothing but a boy – a little boy!’

I am afraid I have visualized you as a man.
Yet as I see you now, son,
crumpled and weary in your cot,
I see that you are still a baby.
Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms,
your head on her shoulder.
I have asked too much, too much.

I liked the poem a lot, here below is a modern youtube video version. Apparently the voice is the same from the book’s audio version.

Here is what Dale Carnegie said about criticism:

Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness.

After several interesting historical examples about the negativeness of criticizing that poem marks the end of part 1. It concludes with the first principle: Principle 1 – Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.

Dale Carnegie had a huge influence on Buffett. He said that his course was the most important he ever took and changed him the most.

I think that today, when lots of communications are indirectly done online, in a written way that can easily be misinterpreted, Dale Carnegie’s practical advice is worth as much as ever.

I’m sure that the young Warren Buffett saw fast how immensely profitable, in every sense, that advice could be. Since that moment he started to live by the wise principles learned from Carnegie and to practice them in order to improve his behavior towards people and himself.

Being eager to see what other principles influenced Warren Buffett’s behavior I’ll go back to my reading now


About jrv

I was born in Spain and lived in Belgium, Chile, France, USA, Argentina among other places. Currently I am trying to settle down in a wild place. I am "retired", even though now I dedicate more hours "working" for my investments than I ever worked in the real labor market where I used to work in IT and Banking. I am a family man, I have a lovely wife, several sons and one step daughter. I have humble tastes, I like to stay home and read about companies and investments. I started investing at 25 before the internet bubble exploded. I did not know much about investing and liked technical analysis so my results were pretty bad. Fortunately I did not have much to lose. Some years later in 2006 bored of doing only real state investments and with quite a lot of money saved I opened an account in a cheap and excellent online broker and started again. This time I did not want to commit the same mistake, so I decided to follow a model. I heard that Warren Buffett was the best at making money via stocks so I started by reading a lot about him, all of his shareholders letters and several of the books that he recommended. I learned a lot, started applying his investing principles and reading a lot of 10K's. Digested news from lots of different sources. Basically I started buying very good and cheap companies and holding them for ever if possible and if nothing changed fundamentally. When the housing crisis started I was more than 75% cash. At that time I identified good companies at incredibly cheap prices so I invested most of my savings in stocks. In less than I year I doubled. By the second semester of 2009 I turned my software company into an investment vehicle and dedicated myself full time to it. My wife and I decided to change our lifestyle and moved from Belgium to the beach in a wild country. The goal was to keep fixed costs low in order to be able to live with a minimum 6-8% yearly return but specially to move away from the inhuman life of civilization and to have finally some peace and sunny weather to concentrate better on investing. Now I can think and study about companies 60 hours a week and I am doing great. I can finally do what I want full time and can proudly say that I have never been so happy, specially also with my just born 4th son, my other great kids and my sweet wife who supports me fully while I study most of the day and patiently wait for the opportunity to make a swing ! You can learn a bit more about my portfolio by viewing it at www.kuchita.com/view/sumo.php or you may learn more about me and my family by following the link "Author's site" from the menu above.
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5 Responses to “How to Win Friends and Influence People” – A Great Book I Learned About Thanks To Warren Buffett… Plus A Great Poem!

  1. David says:

    Hi jrv

    Thanks for sharing this. I read the book many years ago and had forgotten the excellent advice it contained. Will you be sharing the rest of the principles?

    Kind regards

  2. jrv says:

    Hi David, I have not made any plans to write more about the book. It does indeed seem to offer very practical and good advice ! No wonder why Buffett liked it so much.

  3. Daniel Webb says:

    That was an outstanding post jrv! That is one of the books I really need to read. The poem really hit home for me, I have probably been too tough on my 7 year old daughter much like the poet.

  4. jrv says:

    Hi Daniel, Glad you liked it. Several times, when I read that poem, I have to control me not to cry.

    The book is very good, it has had a very fast practical effect on me. I’m quite amazed that at this stage of life a self improvement book helped me so much (never believed in those kind of books before).

  5. Brad says:

    Thanks for posting this. It will help me to keep life in the right perspective. I always learn something from your posts. Best, Brad

Comments are closed.