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Warren Buffett on Snowballs, Family Time, Thriftiness, Vegetables, and the Bank of Reputation

The first authorized biography of Warren Buffett is being published today. The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life was written by former insurance industry analyst Alice Schroeder with Buffett's full cooperation. (Buffett actually selected her for the job of writing the 'inside' story of his life.)

Over a five year period, she spent thousands of hours with him and recorded 300 hours of formal interviews.

Here are some excerpts from the book, as provided by its publisher, Bantam Dell:

SNOWBALL?

Buffett: "The snowball just happens if you're in the right kind of snow, and that's what happened with me. I don't just mean compounding money either. It's in terms of understanding the world and what kind of friends you accumulate. You get to select over time, and you've got to be the kind of person that the snow wants to attach itself to. You've got to be your own wet snow, in effect. You'd better be picking up snow as you go along, because you're not going to be getting back up to the top of the hill again. That's the way life works."

WORK VS FAMILY

WORK VS. FAMILY

Schroeder: "(First wife) Susie understood his work as a sort of holy mission. Still she tried to get him out of his study and into the family's world ... At the [dinner] table, Warren would laugh when something funny happened and appear engaged, but he rarely spoke. His mind could have been anywhere. On vacation once in California, he took a bunch of kids to Disneyland one night and sat on a bench reading while the kids ran wild and had a grand time."

WARREN'S 'THRIFTINESS' VS SUSIE'S 'GENEROSITY'

WARREN'S 'THRIFTINESS' VS SUSIE'S 'GENEROSITY'

Buffett's pregnant daughter Susie and her husband wanted to remodel their small Washington, D.C. home in 1986. "She asked her father for a loan. 'Why not go to the bank?' he asked and turned them down ... Before long, her doctor confined Susie Jr. to bed rest for a tedious six months ... When Big Susie caught wind of what was happening, she dropped everything and flew in to care for her daughter, spending months in Washington. As soon as she saw the condition of the place, she turned it upside down and renovated it. 'It's just terrible that Warren won't pay for this,' she complained. But everything she was spending had been dunned out of him. Their endless money game enhanced Warren's reputation for thriftiness and Susie's reputation for generosity."

WHAT WARREN WON'T EAT

WHAT WARREN WON'T EAT

Buffett: "Broccoli, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts look to me like Chinese food crawling around on a plate. Cauliflower almost makes me sick. I eat carrots reluctantly. I don't like sweet potatoes. I don't even want to be close to a rhubarb, it makes me retch .. I like eating the same thing over and over and over again. I could eat a ham sandwich everyday for fifty days in a row for breakfast."

WHAT WARREN WON'T DO

WHAT WARREN WON'T DO

Schroeder: "Buffett would undertake almost any item from his short list of most-loathed tasks - get into an angry, critical confrontation; fire someone; cut off a long friendship carefully cultivated; eat Japanese food; give away a vast sum of money; almost anything - than make a withdrawal from the Bank of Reputation.





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Questions? Comments? Email me at buffettwatch@cnbc.com

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