Warren Buffett's Remarkably Simple Mantra for Success

He may be a business sage, but this piece of advice has nothing to do with stocks and investments.

learn more about Peter Gasca

By Peter Gasca

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Warren Buffett is wealthy, to the tune of $72.2 billion. To put this in perspective, only 67 of the 200 wealthiest countries listed by the United Nations generate a GDP greater than the value of his holdings.

He is also by many accounts one of the hardest-working people in business. According to his biographer, his "vaguely autistic aura" provides him with a keen ability to see and analyze numbers. And when most of us might question the validity of an undervalued company, he sees it for what it really is -- an opportunity.

Buffett is also an incredibly humble, honest and pretty funny fellow.

Related: 3 Warren Buffett Quotes Your Business Should Live By

In 2002, I had the opportunity to hear The Oracle of Omaha speak at Georgetown University. Our small group of aspiring business leaders sat patiently hoping to hear sage investment advice or catch a hint of an upcoming acquisition. The jovial Buffett, however, lamented about his surprisingly humble rise to wealth and provided us with a few simple rules to live by.

Buffett quipping that the only difference between us young business students and him was that while we probably arrived to the venue by foot or in crappy old cars (given the costly tuition at Georgetown), he came on his cushy private jet.

That is hardly a small difference, Mr. Buffett.

He was quick to point out that we had all in fact started off poor, scared and naked. He dismissed the attributes of luck, though he acknowledged the fact that he was fortunate to have been born to supporting parents with means, or as he called it, "winning the fallopian tube lottery."

His career success and wealth, however, was not achieved through chance circumstance. Hard work, conviction and an enormous helping of common sense is what he attributes to success.

But that was not the secret.

Related: Warren Buffett: 'I Eat Like a Six-Year-Old'

Instead, Buffett emphasized that the true secret to success was to live a righteous life, because dishonesty, cruelty and immorality follow you throughout your career, and it is far more difficult to shed than any failure we will ever have.

He suggested that by adopting one simple mantra, all other parts of your personal and professional lives would fall into place:

Never do anything in life if you would be ashamed of seeing it printed on the front page of your hometown newspaper for your family and friends to see.

It is that simple.

There was no top-secret formula for valuing businesses or stock tips. Just be good, do right and treat others fairly.

Of course, Buffett has acquired ownership in a few small newspapers over the past years, so perhaps his goal is to control the front page content of his hometown newspaper.

Alas, I am certain his investment reasoning is far more sophisticated than that.

Related: Warren Buffett Knows It. Reinvesting in Your Business Can Lead to Huge Growth.

Peter Gasca

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

Management and Entrepreneur Consultant

Peter Gasca is an author and consultant at Peter Paul Advisors. He also serves as Executive-in-Residence and Director of the Community and Business Engagement Institute at Coastal Carolina University. His book, One Million Frogs', details his early entrepreneurial journey.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Everyone Wants to Get Close to Their Favorite Artist. Here's the Technology Making It a Reality — But Better.
The Highest-Paid, Highest-Profile People in Every Field Know This Communication Strategy
After Early Rejection From Publishers, This Author Self-Published Her Book and Sold More Than 500,000 Copies. Here's How She Did It.
Having Trouble Speaking Up in Meetings? Try This Strategy.
He Names Brands for Amazon, Meta and Forever 21, and Says This Is the Big Blank Space in the Naming Game
Thought Leaders

The Collapse of Credit Suisse: A Cautionary Tale of Resistance to Hybrid Work

This cautionary tale serves as a reminder for business leaders to adapt to the changing world of work and prioritize their workforce's needs and preferences.

Business News

These Are the Most and Least Affordable Places to Retire in The U.S.

The Northeast and West Coast are the least affordable, while areas in the Mountain State region tend to be ideal for retirees on a budget.

Business News

The 'Airbnbust' Proves the Wild West Days of Online Vacation Rentals Are Over

Airbnb recently reported that 2022 was its first profitable year ever. But the deluge of new listings foreshadowed an inevitable correction.

Business News

American Airlines Sued After Teen Dies of Heart Attack Onboard Flight to Miami

Kevin Greenridge was traveling from Honduras to Miami on June 4, 2022, on AA Flight 614 when he went into cardiac arrest and became unconscious mid-flight.

Business News

I'm a Former Google Recruiter. Here's How to Land a Job in Tech — and What Can Blow Your Interview

A former Google recruiter says layoffs may be trendy, but tech workers are always needed. Here's how to land a job at a major tech company.

Growing a Business

The No.1 Most Bankable Skill You Must Have to Succeed in 2023

If you don't foster this skill, you'll fall behind the pack financially and professionally in 2023.