Berkshire Hathaway 2013 Annual Meeting Audience Question # 3

The keys to keeping Berkshire as it is after Warren is gone

Warren Buffett:

OK. Now we go to a shareholder in station number 1.

Audience Member:

Hi. Dan Lewis from Chicago. First of all, I wanted to thank you for letting us in the building early today. But let’s not…

Let’s not do that again next year, though. I don’t want to wake up any earlier to get in line.

Warren Buffett:

If we had a company that sold coats, we would have left you out there.

Audience Member:

Always a comeback.

When you think about Berkshire in the decade after you’re gone, my question is what worries you the most? What… I know nothing keeps you up at night… but what are your big worries and, you know, what can go wrong?

Warren Buffett:

Well, it’s a good question. It’s one we think about all the time.

And that’s why the culture is all important, the businesses we own are all important, because those trains will keep running and people will keep calling GEICO the day after I die. There’s no question about that.

And the key is preserving the culture and having a successor as CEO that will have more brains, more energy, and more passion for it, even than I have.

And it’s the number one subject that our board considers at every meeting, and we’re solidly in agreement as to whom that individual should be.

And I think the culture has just become intensified year after year after year. And I think Charlie would agree with that.

I mean, we always knew what we were about when we first got involved with Berkshire, but making sure that everybody that joined us, that the owners, the shareholders, directors, managers, everybody that bought into this what I think very special culture. That took time, and… but it is… I think it’s really one of a kind now, and I think that it will remain one of a kind.

I think that anything that came in… any foreign-type behavior would be cast out because people have self-selected into this group, into the company, and it would be rejected like a foreign tissue if we got the wrong sort of person in there.

We have a board that is especially devoted to Berkshire. We don’t hold them by paying them huge amounts, it may be noted.

And we have people who have brought their companies to Berkshire because they want to be part of it, as did ISCAR.

So, I think that whoever succeeds me… and it will be a lot of newspaper stories and people… after six months, there will be a story that says, you know, it isn’t the same thing.

It will be the same thing. You can count on that.

Charlie, what are your thoughts?

Charlie Munger:

Well, I… my thoughts are very simple. I want to say to the many Mungers in the audience, don’t be so stupid as to sell these shares.

Warren Buffett:

That goes for the Buffetts, too.

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Q&A with Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger: A Compilation of All Shareholder Questions and Answers from The Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder Meetings

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