Warren Buffett’s Office

During a recent business trip, I was killing time on a cross-country flight and started browsing the available movies.  Being a good little personal finance geek, I quickly selected the documentary “Becoming Warren Buffett”.

There were many great little tidbits of wisdom and lessons learned throughout the movie… everything from financial truths, life lessons and Warren’s perspective and advice.  But one scene particularly struck me and got me thinking…

Warren’s Office

I don’t have a picture of Warren’s office so… more sunsets.

As Warren Buffett is showing the camera crew his office, he pauses and points out a framed certificate on the wall.  I initially assumed that the certificate was a college diploma, an advanced degree, or some prestigious award.  I was wrong.

The certificate was acknowledging Warren’s completion of a Dale Carnegie public speaking course.  Warren proudly highlighted the fact that this certificate occupied the valuable real estate of Warren’s Berkshire Hathaway office because it was more pivotal to him than any degree or award.  Completing the Dale Carnegie public speaking class changed his life.

The scene was more than a charming, side note in the movie.  I was impressed that Warren wanted to highlight something so seemingly mundane, yet so important in his life.

Certificate on the Wall

The scene got me thinking… what should be on my wall?  What degree, certificate, memento or pivotal moment do I want highlighted on my wall… and why?

I scoured my memory, trying to think about all of those little achievements, all the school awards, athletic endeavors, extracurricular titles, and personal “wins”.

Which one is so important to me that I would put it on my wall?

A Turning Point…

I thought of everything…  My high school and college diplomas.  The various athletic medals.  Our marriage certificate.  AR Jr.’s birth certificate (which I deserved after over 32 HOURS of labor!)

And then it dawned on me.  The item that deserves the “life impact” spot on my wall is not something I am exactly proud and does not mark an accomplishment.  The item deserving of the coveted spot on my wall marks a turning point.

The 7th Grade Version of Mrs. Adventure Rich

When I was in 7th grade, I was your typical, bratty, thirteen-year-old girl trying to assert her independence in a world still governed by mom and dad’s watchful eye (because I was obviously wayyy to mature to care about my parents and their rules…***)

***Insert present-day Mrs. Adventure Rich’s slow eye roll at her former self!

I am a Type A, overachiever who had an easy time with most schoolwork.  With my dogged study habits, I routinely brought home good grades.  But in 7th grade, I was in a new school with few people I knew and my parents were ruining my life.  They didn’t let me date (smart move!) and didn’t let me go to school dances (oh, I hated them for this one!).  In hindsight, I think they are the wisest people around, but in the moment, I was livid.

I wanted to find a way to punish my parents for their strict rules.  Yet I was also a bit too much of a “goody-two-shoes” to fight back or rebel too much.  Sure, I didn’t speak to my parents and stalked around glaring at them like they were chopped liver, but I kept up with my studies, athletics, and extracurriculars until…

My Bad Grade

I got a bad grade… on purpose.  Now, it wasn’t really a terrible grade, but I thought I could get back at my parents by getting a bad grade.  They would (of course) realize the error in their way, see that they were ruining my life, allow me to date and go to dances and voila!  My grades would return to normal.

So, I scuttled my Spanish mid-year exam by purposefully answering the questions incorrectly.  The net result was a bad exam grade, but an average term grade (due to my work throughout the semester).

I will never forget the feeling in my stomach as I looked at my report card.  This wasn’t me, this wasn’t the Ms. Pre-Adventure Rich I knew.  I was better than this.  All at once, I realized that the only person I was hurting was myself.  And I felt like an idiot.

Lesson Learned

Needless to say, after that report card, I was done with my little tantrum.  Sure, I still stomped around and argued with my parents about their dating rules.  But I realized that when it came to grades and success in various areas of my life, I was only accountable to myself.

My parents loved me, cared for me, and would be concerned if I brought home failing grades, but the real loser would be me.  I would be sabotaging my own future, my own life, myself.  What a wake-up call!

So, What Should be on My Wall?

My home office!

When I think back on all those little items throughout the years, I would choose my 7th-grade report card to frame and hang on the wall.  This report card is a reminder that I am accountable to myself for my actions, effort, and success.

What should be (or is!) hanging on your wall?  Have you seen “Becoming Warren Buffett”?  Any other thoughts about it?

Always an Adventure,

Mrs. Adventure Rich