Warren Buffett, a legendary investor and the third richest person in the world, said in a new interview that one life decision is more important than just about any other: the choice of a life partner.
“If you want to emulate somebody, you’d better pick very carefully who you want to emulate,” he says. “The most important for most people, in terms of that decision, is their spouse.”
“You want to pick a spouse that's a little bit better than you are. Then he or she, you hope they don't figure it out too fast,” Buffett, 88, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A, BRK-B), said in a wide-ranging interview with Yahoo Finance's editor-in-chief, Andy Serwer.
The advice followed a general rule put forth by Buffett: Be careful of the company you keep and the people you admire.
“You want to associate with people that are better than you are,” he says. “And you want to have the right heroes.”
“Obviously, you can't pick your parents,” he adds. “They're going to have an enormous influence on you. But you don't get a choice on that. But you get choices, as you go down the line. Who you admire, who you want to copy.”
‘Hang out with people better than you’
The advice matches wisdom that Buffett shared with a 14-year-old Justin Fong at an annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting in Omaha, Nebraska in 2004.
“It's better to hang out with people better than you,” he told Fong. “Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you'll drift in that direction.”
On another occasion, Buffett explained how to identify such peers.
“You're looking for three things, generally, in a person: intelligence, energy, and integrity. And if they don't have the last one, don't even bother with the first two.”
Since 1965, Buffett has run Berkshire Hathaway, which owns over 60 companies, like Geico and Dairy Queen, plus minority stakes in Apple, Coca-Cola, among others. He holds a net worth of $82.5 billion, and has vowed to give away nearly all of it.
Andy Serwer is editor-in-chief of Yahoo Finance.