When you see a 79-year-old living idol refer to his mentor’s name half a dozen times in a 60 minutes talk, you got to pay attention to it. I had this unique opportunity to listen to Warren Buffett and Bill Gates at a town hall event at Columbia Business School. I got more than a few sparks to think about, but one I believe I should share with everyone is the importance of Ben Graham for Warren Buffett.
You will say that there can only be one Ben Graham and one Warren Buffett in a generation. True, but that’s not the point here. The point here is to find a true mentor, an individual who inspires you, someone who makes you excited to talk to and work for and make you a better person. Ben Graham was a great professional mentor to Warren Buffett, someone whose values he lives up to and applies in his work even to this date.
Many of us will find our parents as inspiration to live up to. They are possibly the best personal mentors one can ever have and the easy thing here is, you got them when you were born. In your professional life, it’s a bit harder than that. I asked someone lot smarter than me: how do you know that this is the Ben Graham for you? The answer: it’s more of a realization than anything else. If that’s the person who energizes you to stay up at night and get things done, if that’s someone who motivates you to jump out of bed early in the morning and that’s the person you can refer to in order to crack the toughest codes, you found what you were looking for.