Three months ago, I never suspected that 5 month’s hence, a summer associate of mine would be meeting with Warren Buffett.
Earlier this year I had gone to give a talk at Wharton Business School with my friends Whitney Tilson and Ken Shubinstein. There I met Aaron Byrd. Although I could not pay him much I offered him a summer associate position at Aquamarine. The quid pro quo was that I would do my best to help Aaron to network effectively with the Value Investing crowd.
Amongst other things, I had Aaron read, and re-read Robert Cialdini’s book “Influence” – especially the chapter on reciprocation. I explained to Aaron that amongst other things, a few of the keys to effective networking are:
- First: Don’t waste the other person’s time – always demonstrate that you have respect for their goals in life and that you want to help them to further their goals.
- Second: Look for ways in which you can help them.
- Lastly: Get in touch with them when you have something for them that is tangible, desirable and relevant.
I also told and retold Aaron two stories; one about the the most successful car salesman in the US who wrote as many as 12,000 letters or so a year to his prospective and former clients. The other about Ronald Reagan, who placed a very high importance on personal correspondence.
In addition to his other duties, Aaron set about applying these simple principles with alacrity, writing more than 160 letters over the course of 10 weeks. As a result Aaron established contact with, and met a number of people – who, I have no doubt, will be very valuable to him as well as to Aquamarine. That group includes; Seth Karman, Tom Russo, Staley Cates, Joel Greenblatt, Marty Whitman and Bruce Berkowitz.
Towards the end of the summer, I helped Aaron write a letter to Warren Buffett which, in addition to containing some information that Buffett would find valuable, asked if he might host a group of Wharton MBA students in Omaha. Buffett wrote back agreeing.
One of the many wise things Buffett said at the last AGM was that love is something that you just can’t give away: The more you give out, the more you receive back.
I did not know quite how true that was. I’m brimming with pride at my most successful mentorship experience to date
Aaron hard at work writing letters at Aquamarine
Aaron with Amanda Pullinger
Aaron about to do some real work
Letter from Buffett
Aaron Meeting Warren Buffett