May 4, 2015
This is an unusual post, for me: normally, it’s baked fresh, every Monday.
This week, I’m writing on the weekend. When you get this, I’ll be in a 90°+ desert environment, hitting balls for one day so that we can elevate leaders all year long (not too late to sponsor me; click here).
The nature of America – c. 2015 – is curious. Success is now a fleeting and ambiguous tagline; few would even claim it in Andy Warhol’s 15 Minutes of Fame culture. Today, celebrity is the enviable status. Headlines are the new bottom line. Whether it’s the Wall Street Journal or the Huffington Post, to be among the most-mentioned on Twitter is worthy of heralding on one’s headstone.
There are two buzz names on this first weekend of May, and they have virtually nothing in common. One you’ve never heard; the other has become ubiquitous.
Marilyn Mosby has grabbed front-page coverage, after just four months on the job. The young attorney – just 35 years old – is the Chief Prosecutor in Baltimore, Maryland. Her official biography notes that she is “the youngest chief prosecutor of any major city in America.” Days after the riots and looting in her city made live continuing, preemptive broadcast happen, she has indicted six police officers on felony charges regarding the death of Freddie Gray.
One section back – in the WSJ – a man born 29 years before Mosby managed to gain coverage. Warren Buffett is 84, but he’s not consigned to stodgy senior status in the public eye. This weekend, the annual meeting of Berkshire Hathaway will mark the 50th anniversary of Mr. B’s takeover of the company. The meteoric rise and continuing performance of that stock has made the people who follow and trust Buffett wealthier while avoiding most of the roller-coaster glee that boom/bust day-traders experience.
Their headline – “Lessons from 50 Years of Buffett” – seeks to explain, in 29 column-inches, what mere mortals can deduce and emulate from “The Sage of Omaha.”
Buffett explains his approach pretty openly. He says he has three powerful weapons in his investing arsenal: cash, emotion and information. Cash is obvious: in up-markets, cash is king; in down markets, cash is king. ‘Nuff said. Emotion is inversely emotional: he plays-off other people’s emotions. When they’re afraid, he’s bold; when they’re bold, he becomes fearful. And, information speaks volumes: he looks at everything, but only sees the important, whether obvious or subtle.
No one is calling Ms. Mosby “The Sage of Baltimore.” She was a clerk in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston and Washington, spent time in the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s office and then went to work for an insurance company. She built a resume that enabled her election in January… but questions are already being raised concerning conflicts-of-interest regarding her outspoken, activist husband who has been calling for action against the police and her personal mentor who is counsel for Freddie Gray’s family. Time will unfold concerning the crisis in Baltimore; truth may indicate the outcomes…
In a celebrity-crazed culture, it seems like the path to Mosby’s notoriety is more easily followed than the rocky road to Buffett’s seasoned, second-section status. Which is superior, for you?
David – the man who started tending sheep in Bethlehem and ended up tending Israel from Jerusalem for 40 years – recognized the value of time in the confirmation of his convictions: “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” (Psalm 37:25). His perspective: “I wouldn’t have known this when I was starting out, but let me tell you what I know, now…”
What do you know, now… that you didn’t know when you started?