Quick thoughts on HBO documentary — “Becoming Warren Buffett”

I knew the man as perhaps the most successful investor of this era and a witty, down-to-earth old man who loves his coke and steak. Watching this documentary gave me a peek into other sides of his life — almost going rogue as a teenager until being nudged back on the right track by his dad’s invisible but unlimited confidence in him; his solitary personality and the underlying disconnect with his family; his struggle with stage fright at the start of his career etc.

Having said that, these minor flaws did not diminish my respect for this man, they just made him more human and relatable. Of course, the documentary also shows the many positive sides of him — his laser-like focus, the thirst for knowledge, strong business ethics, his vast philanthropic contributions and more — that made him the successful and respected man he is today.

Watching the documentary sparked the following reflection — all successful people have flaws and they have all made some necessary tradeoffs at different points of their life in order to achieve their goals. While admiring their achievements and positive traits, it is also equally important to scrutinise what they have given up or what they didn’t do so well. Learning from both sides of the coin will be a good guide to making our own decisions at work and in life. We need to be persistent in our pursuits, but also constantly be cognisant of the potential consequences on the other facets of our life. And hopefully with that we can all live our own versions of happy and fulfilling lives.

On the documentary itself: It follows the chronological order of Warren Buffett’s life. It may feel a little overloaded and unfocused at times, jumping in between different storylines from his childhood, his business, his approach to investment to his relationship with his family. But as a whole the documentary gives good, broad insights into what made the man who he is today. Would recommend watching when you have some time to spare.