Warren Buffett's "self-doubt and vulnerability" surprised the author of The Snowball, the billionaire investor's first authorized biography that goes on sale tomorrow (Monday.)
Alice Schroeder spent thousands of hours with Buffett over the five years she worked on the massive book. She started a year before Buffett's first wife Susie died of cancer, an event that had an enormous emotional impact on him.
(The New York Daily News reportsthat in the book, Buffett says the biggest mistake of his life was allowing Susie to leave their Omaha home in the 1970s.)
Schroeder tells Reuters, "The surprise was his vulnerability. Seeing him weep and suffer and be in real emotional pain -- when I would see him always answer the phone, 'never better,' until this happened -- was the biggest surprise."
Schroeder says Buffett's fear of mortality kept him from Susie's funeral. He was "overcome with relief" when his daughter told him he didn't have to go.
While Buffett never doubts his business decision and abilities, Schroeder says it does relate "to whether people like him or not, how he's being perceived. He is sensitive to criticism from other people, which he seems to have internalized."
Schroeder also talked to Reuters about how Buffett has "shed much of his longtime reticence toward the media, puzzling friends with his sudden, frequent appearances on CNBC."
Her explanation: "He's always been something of a showman. He thinks of himself as a teacher. His sense of his audience is mathematical. My sense is that he is doing the math, and concluding the need to get out what he wants to say more frequently than 10 years ago."
Schroeder is scheduled to be interviewed this coming Tuesday, September 30 on CNBC's Power Lunch. You may send us your suggested questions for her by email.
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