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Motivational Leaders: Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett is the chairman, CEO and largest shareholder of Berkshire

Warren Edward Buffett was born on August 30, 1930, in Omaha, Nebraska. Buffett often visited his father's stock brokerage shop as a child and chalked in the stock prices on the blackboard in the office. At 11 years old he made his first investment, buying three shares of Cities Service Preferred at $38 per share. The stock quickly dropped to only $27, but Buffett held on tenaciously until it reached $40. He sold his shares at a small profit but regretted the decision when Cities Service shot up to nearly $200 a share. He later cited this experience as an early lesson in patience in investing.

Buffett enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania at the age of 16 to study business. He stayed two years, moved to the University of Nebraska to finish up his degree, and emerged from college at age 20 with nearly $10,000 from his childhood businesses.
In 1951 he received his master's degree in economics at Columbia University, where he studied under economist Benjamin Graham and furthered his education at the New York Institute of Finance.
Influenced by Graham's 1949 book, The Intelligent Investor, Buffett sold securities for Buffett-Falk & Company for three years, before working for his mentor for two years as an analyst at Graham-Newman Corp.

In 1956 Buffet formed the firm Buffett Partnership Ltd. in his hometown of Omaha. Utilizing the techniques learned from Graham, he was successful in identifying undervalued companies and became a millionaire. One such enterprise Buffett valued was a textile company named Berkshire Hathaway. He began accumulating stock in the early 1960s, and by 1965 he had assumed control of the company.

Despite the success of Buffett Partnership, its founder dissolved the firm in 1969 to focus on the development of Berkshire Hathaway. He phased out its textile manufacturing division, instead expanding the company by buying assets in media (The Washington Post), insurance (GEICO) and oil (Exxon). Immensely successful, the "Oracle of Omaha" even managed to spin seemingly poor investments into gold, most notably with his purchase of scandal-plagued Salomon Brothers in 1987.

Following Berkshire Hathaway's significant investment in Coca-Cola, Buffett became director of the company from 1989 until 2006. He has also served as director of Citigroup Global Markets Holdings, Graham Holdings Company and The Gillette Company.

Later Activity and Philanthropy
In June 2006 Buffett made an announcement that he would be giving his entire fortune away to charity, committing 85 percent of it to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This donation became the largest act of charitable giving in United States history. In 2010 Buffett and Gates announced they had formed The Giving Pledge campaign to recruit more wealthy individuals for philanthropic causes.