Warren Buffett Going Global: Becky's Video Diary
When CNBC's Squawk Box co-anchor Becky Quick traveled with Warren Buffett to Asia, she took a video camera along for the trip. Some of the material she shot will be appearing in the one hour CNBC special Warren Buffett: The Billionaire Next Door - Going Globalthat premieres tomorrow night (Friday, November 30) at 9p ET.
In this web-only video clip shot with my own trusty minicam, you'll see some additional footage from Becky's "video diary" as she tells us what really happens "behind-the-scenes."
Becky: Hi everybody. I'm Becky Quick from CNBC's Squawk Box. If you watch the program you've probably seen recently we've shown a lot of footage of a trip I got to take with Warren Buffett, going to China and South Korea. Well, what we haven't shown you, to this point, is a lot of the stuff that was happening behind the scenes.
We had real photographers with us most of the time, but Mr. Buffett's plane was pretty crowded at some points, so there were some points where I didn't have a photographer or a producer with me. I did have a handy little mini camera. So I was able to, without any professional direction on this, actually shoot some footage myself.
Now you have to forgive me. I'm not a photographer. I don't know what I'm doing with these things. But it was able to help me keep a little bit of a video diary of what was happening behind the scenes. And we thought we might be able to share some of those things with you here today. So thanks for checking in, and why don't we go through some of those clips that we've been kind of saving and storing for ourselves. We'll show them to you here now for the first time.
Becky on plane: Warren, what's in the news today? (Buffett smiles.)
Becky: If you are a fan of Warren Buffett you know that this is a man who knows an awful lot about a lot of different things. You may wonder how this guy got so smart. Well, I saw firsthand on the plane. Warren Buffett brought along, I'm not kidding here, files and files of boxes of things to read on this plane. Huge stacks of boxes of stuff that he brought along.
He also talks about how much he reads and this man reads newspapers like nobody I've ever seen before. From the Washington Post, he reads the Omaha paper, he reads the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times. He reads publications I've never heard of before. Weekly publications that come out, daily publications that come out.
He also makes sure that he reads annual reports constantly. He made a joke about this on the plane. He said, "Some men read Playboy. I read financial reports." And he means it. He goes through these things constantly and, just getting a glimpse of what he was doing on the plane, he spent a little bit of time just looking out the window, but certainly not much.
Another interesting thing about Warren Buffett is he doesn't drink coffee. You wonder where he gets the energy to get through his day? Well, he does have some caffeine intake. He drinks Cherry Coke. Everybody knows this from the flight attendants on the plane to the companies that we met with. This is a man who drinks, on average, about five 12-ounce cans of Cherry Coke a day. When we were on this trip, I'm guessing, he had to drink more than that because we had some pretty long days when you were up for 24 hours. But again, one constant on this trip was Cherry Coca-Cola. People made sure he had it wherever he went.
The trip was made in two legs on our way there. We started out in Omaha, Nebraska, and instead of flying straight through to China we did make one stop in Alaska. We stopped there for a couple of reasons. First, to refuel but also because it's such a long trip going over that the flight crew had to be swapped out in Alaska, as well. They couldn't make this whole trip without having some relief along the way. So we stopped in Alaska, and as you might guess it was pretty cold stopping in Alaska.
We got off the plane, and you know, the nice thing about having your own plane, traveling with NetJets, having a private jet, is that these stops are very, very quick. It's not like doing a stopover when you're flying commercial. We're talking about maybe 15, 20 minutes on the ground. Just long enough to get a new crew swapped in and enough time for us to run in and make a pit stop inside.
When we first walked into the lodge, Buffett as always, was keeping an eye on the markets. He pointed out exactly what the markets had been doing up to that point.
Buffett: The Dow's up 44.
Becky: Again, this was a real short stopover. A nice little walk into the fire, but within a few minutes we were all back on our way, back out to the plane.
Warren Buffett is sometimes a more casual man than you might expect. Obviously if you're traveling on a long trip like this, you like to be comfortable. He gave me a heads up to go ahead and wear something comfortable, because he was certainly going to be dressed comfortably. In fact. he started out on the tarmac in a sweatsuit and he wore that through most of the trip.
But you never know how they're going to great you when you land in the ground in another country. So, he made a point of making sure he changed into a suit before we landed. He didn't want to offend any of the local dignitaries. So he made a quick change on the plane.
Buffett on plane: Just like Superman going into a phone booth, right? (laughter.)
Becky: You can take the man out of Omaha, but you can't necessarily take the Omaha out of the man. Buffett likes to travel, but he doesn't always like to try out the local food on his way. He made a joke and said that he'd eat anything that he ate at his fifth birthday party and that's about it. He likes hamburgers, he likes hot dogs, and he was pretty much dead set that he wasn't going to be eating much of the local cuisine.
Buffett at lunch: I'm 77 years old and I haven't learned how to use chop sticks. (Laughter.)
Becky: No insult meant, but this is a man who is pretty much set in his ways when it comes to his diet. He knows what he likes. There were some interesting things that happened along the way. Obviously when we traveled, local dignitaries were trying to make sure they brought out of all the best of the local flavors. And they put on very impressive displays. But one interesting thing came up in Dalian when we were in China. I guess the mayor's entourage had set up a 12-course lunch, and it was a very impressive lunch, but it was not necessarily food that you might be used to back in Omaha or back here even in New York.
There was a cheeseburger ready to go for Warren Buffett but there was some confusion among the mayor's people. I think they wanted to not bring that out and offer any insult. I don't think they thought cheeseburgers would really fit in with the luncheon. So, Buffett was served the same courses everyone else was. Things like sea urchin, things like, fried things that were not too easy to identify. Buffett held his ground. He didn't try any of these things, so after about six courses through this lunch, finally someone relented, and they brought out the cheeseburger and Warren Buffett finally got his meal.
Warren Buffett draws a crowd wherever he goes. You always see him mobbed, even, you know, when he's in Omaha people will come up to him and just say "Mr. Buffett" and approach him. They like to -- They notice him when he walks into a room. You can watch the heads turning.
But I've never seen anything like the response that he got when we arrived in South Korea. In South Korea, there were literally a hundred or more reporters and camera crews that were waiting for his arrival at the airport. There was a band that kicked off a big tune when he walked through the doors. It was a Beatles song, I Want to Hold Your Hand.
This is an outpouring like you probably only see for rock stars. It was amazing, people pushing, shoving. We had some camera crews that were in the crowd and the two people we had were both bruised up by all the pushing and shoving. I was lucky enough to be on the other side of that. In fact, you can see me shooting Mr. Buffett in some of these scenes from those other cameras. But this was a scene like you couldn't believe. He was very gracious, pushed through the whole thing, but in the end it was a little nerve racking and it was a little amazing he even got out of there in one piece.
Anyway, that's just some of the behind the scenes things that were happening. Thanks for checking out that video diary that we put together.
If I had to sum things up, the one most amazing thing that occured to me throughout all of this, I'd have to say watching Buffett's energy level. This is a guy who went for about 28, 29 hours straight at the beginning. He didn't even bother to sleep or take a nap. This man has energy like you wouldn't believe. And if I had to put my finger on it, I'd say it's all about the Cherry Coke. So if there's any endorsement there, yeah, Cherry Coke certainly seems to give you some kind of eneregy. Thanks for tuning in.
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