For hundreds of years, reading has been the gateway to knowledge for the developed world. And even though we live in an era where digital media has replaced print, reading is far from obsolete. This is especially true if you want to make money through investments, a better career path, or other endeavors. The world is changing at a faster pace than we’ve ever seen, and the written word is the only way to keep up.
Todd Combs and Ted Weschler are the two investors who will replace Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger at the head of Berkshire-Hathaway if and when they pass away (may they live forever!). In the meantime, they have occupied many of the important duties that are required of those who manage hundreds of billions in assets.
It’s hard for the average person to imagine what a job like this might entail. You might imagine board meetings, phone calls with world powers, time spent poring over trading algorithms. But Combs and Weschler say it’s mostly reading, about 12 hours of it every day in fact.
Combs’ and Weschler’s reading habits aren’t simply related to the financial data of companies in which they are interested in buying a stake. Sometimes they’re just reading the latest news related to anything and everything going on in the world. Being thus informed, these individuals (as well as Buffett and Munger) have an informed opinion on any subject you can think of. But why waste time reading USA Today when you’re trying to make money?
It’s because investment relates to every other event in the world. Human prejudices, habits, and trends have important ramifications for the way money behaves. Warren Buffett has famously stated that he never makes an investment that he doesn’t fully understand. That’s why he has such an incredibly stake in worldwide monoliths like Coca-Cola and Apple. These companies are easy enough to understand from a consumer and product perspective, but their inner workings are only comprehensible if you read the way in which these brands interact with the broader culture.
Perceptions matter, and you can understand much about them when you inform yourself broadly about the wider world. Perceptions have a direct correlation with the price of stocks and funds. Not only are the folks at Berkshire-Hathaway masters at interpreting the complexities of company financials, they also understand the way that cultural expectations and international events influence these same prices.
If you want to become a better investor or advance in another career path, it’s important that you understand your decisions in the broadest possible context. People do things for reasons, but unless you look at the bigger picture it’s hard to know why they (or you, in fact) do them. Becoming well read in a broad range of subjects may have no immediate tangible benefit. But by exploring the world of record and ideas, you’ll develop a complex mind that can make judgments that people who haven’t consumed the same information cannot. Take time to read about the world, and it’ll make a difference in your work and investing.