The Buffett family measures wealth differently than many might expect. Dollars and cents are replaced with respect and compassion.
In his book, “Life is What You Make it: Finding Your Own Path to Fulfillment,” Peter Buffett, son of billionaire-investor Warren Buffett, describes the way the values his parents instilled in him shaped his success.
As a child growing up in Omaha, Neb., Peter was surrounded by a community of friends and family who provided an encouraging sense of security in everything he pursued.
“Think for yourself, listen to yourself and work from that place,” he said in a phone interview. “Those are the principles that both of my parents preached to me and my siblings.”
Peter followed that advice, leaving Stanford University after two semesters to pursue a music career in San Francisco.
He is now an Emmy-Award winner who achieved his first major success in the music industry after scoring and choreographing the “Fire Dance” for the film “Dances with Wolves.” He also owns two independent labels and has released 15 records.
“People often ask why I did not follow in my father’s footsteps,” Peter said. “The truth is, I did. My father said, ‘Follow your passion,’ which is exactly what he did. The money is a byproduct of doing just that.”
His parents shared the same values regarding the importance of respecting and giving back to humanity.
Peter’s father, Warren, is the third-wealthiest person in the world and has pledged to give more than 99 percent of his wealth to philanthropic causes.
One of those causes is the NoVo Foundation, founded by Peter in 2008 with a mission to “empower women and girls to create a culture conducive to collaboration and partnership,” according to the foundation’s website.
In his book, Peter emphasizes the way in which passion and work come second to “wealth ethic” in today’s society.
“Often times, people with great monetary worth fall into the habit of appearing to be on top of everything,” he said. “It is a strange thing that certain people always want to know, because most of the time in life, you just do not.”
Buffett’s lack of this kind of attitude, regarding his family’s financial worth, is a large part of what prompted him to write the book.
“People would always come up to me and say, ‘You are Warren Buffett’s son? But you are so normal,'” Buffett said. “So when the idea was suggested that I write a book about growing up with these circumstances, it seemed like a good chance to explain how I managed to remain normal.”
Despite being one of the richest men in the world, Peter’s father always taught him time was the most important thing any person can give, not money.
“Philanthropy means the love of people. It is not just about money. It is about understanding the people you are helping by spending time with them,” he said.
Peter said, locally, students can volunteer in hospitals, soup kitchens and with youth development programs.
His advice for students is to “give back and not let decisions based on fear control their destiny. Take this time, learn about yourself and put that toward doing something you really love.”