The Day Warren Buffett Saved My Life

The following is a true story about a young boy with a dead end job. The young boy…. none other than yours truly.

The year was 1998 and I had just accepted my first real job as a Lab Technician. It was a fancy title with a robust annual salary of $22K. It seemed like a good place to start my career; whatever that meant. For the first few months, I walked in and out of the building with a grin on my face. Life seemed fine by all accounts. That is, until a conversation kicked up around my desk about something called the stock market. The higher-ups apparently decided that it was a great idea to chat up one another at my desk about all of their internet stock market profits. These guys were talking about making big money by simply clicking a button on their computer. I sat there in silence but had to know more. So, I darted to the nearest bookstore during lunch and grabbed the first book I could find about the stock market. The first book: a very thick one about some guy named Warren Buffett.

Now, my life is full of serendipitous moments but this one clearly stands out. I could have selected just about any book during that lunch break. But for whatever reason, I picked up this particular Warren Buffett book. Thank God I did because it changed my life.

My old friend Warren taught me so much over the next few days. I discovered that frugality is a good thing. I learned that investing in the stock market was the same thing as buying a business. And most importantly, I stumbled into the secret for my own life. Yes, Warren Buffett actually taught me the secret to life. The secret: success doesn’t happen overnight and it takes decades for it to unfold.This was a seminal moment and the start of something very, very big.

For the next six years, I saved tons of money by doing so many ridiculous things. I worked awful weekend jobs where my bosses were teenagers. I ate frozen foods — fish sticks to be exact — every night of the week to save money. I drove my Mom’s hand-me down car until it finally stopped running. I turned down almost every invitation from friends to hit the town. And yes, I used Warren’s advice and purchased publicly traded stock in several different businesses. My goal was to sock away $150K so that I could start a business. And I did it — finally — six years after first meeting Warren Buffett.

The business opened on April Fools’ Day in 2003. You probably already know this but it was called Two Maids & A Mop; a residential cleaning company of all things. It took years and years for the business to finally make a profit. But it finally did in 2005. Nothing has been the same since that fateful day. Two Maids & A Mop has grown from a tiny, little business with only two employees to a franchise network that now serves 29 markets with more than 400 dedicated employees. The journey has not been easy and there’s been some luck involved along the way. But make no mistake. My story has nothing to do with luck. My story started inside a bookstore during lunch way back in 1998. That’s when I met Warren Buffett for the first time and he’s been my best friend ever since. He saved my life and he can save yours too.

The formula is simple. Plan for success and then start building your way to it. It’ll probably take forever for your success to be realized. But that’s ok because there’s no risk involved. Literally no risk at all. You can’t fail if you have a plan, if you have desire, if you have commitment, if you have patience, if you know where you’re going. I’m telling you the same thing Warren Buffett told me back in 1998. I beg you to listen because my journey is so realistic for anyone that is reading this today. Plan, start working towards the plan, be consistent and never waver from your plan. Do this for five years, ten years, fifteen years and then look back on your life. It’ll be a success. I guarantee it.

Thank you Warren Buffett. You stayed up with me night after night for so many years and you mercifully saved me from those overpriced internet stocks in the 90’s. We go way back and yeah, you saved my life. Thanks for everything and I’ll see you soon in Omaha.