Note: This article is written by Robert P. Miles
Looking out at the faces of people waiting to hear me discuss Warren Buffett’s investment strategies recently, I asked myself the same, but always unanswered, question the world’s greatest investor would himself ask: Where were the women?
Buffett knows one thing other men tend to overlook — being a feminist is good for the bottom line.
As an expert on Buffett’s business strategies, I travel the world speaking at major investment conferences. Buffett speaks at none, except for one. When senior editor-at-large Carol Loomis, one of his most trusted advisors since 1966, invites him to speak at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit, Buffett says yes. Throughout the year, he also welcomes universities to send graduate students to question and learn from him, as long as one requirement is met: 30% or more must be female.
Raised with two beloved sisters by a strong-willed mother, and father to a brilliant daughter himself, Buffett’s feminism isn’t just emotional, it’s pragmatic. He knows women own more than 10 million businesses with nearly two trillion dollars in sales each year. Those are numbers he pays attention to, and invests in.
But Buffett is also highly aware that “winning the ovarian lottery,” as he calls it, gave him opportunities for success his sisters could not have. As he says, the ovarian lottery is one thing you have no control over. It determines your sex, your race, your place and era of birth. Your IQ and eye color. Your temperament, your sense of humor and health risks. It also includes parental support or lack thereof, along with the income and occupations of your parents. Warren’s father happened to be a stockbroker. Discussions about money and investments were a daily part of his life.
Being a numbers man, Buffett assigns probability to everything. He determined the probability of being born a white male in the U. S. in 1930, the year of his birth, was 2%. He had a 50% chance of being born female with the same IQ and talent, which would have made career options as limited as his sisters’, when women were allowed to only be schoolteachers, nurses, or secretaries.
Today, career options are virtually unlimited, and Buffett actively encourages women to increase their presence in the still-male dominated arenas of corporate leadership and investment. Feminism is not a new role for Buffett. He did, in fact, become a teacher — in his 20s, one of the first courses he taught at what is now the University of Nebraska Omaha was titled “Women and Investing.”
So, if the “ovarian lottery” provided you a set of ovaries, here are eight strategies you can learn from Buffett to maximize your future.