How one millennial scored a 3-hour dinner with Warren Buffett—and what he learned

Warren Buffett
Photo by Bloomberg

Every year, fans of Warren Buffett can bid to have lunch with him at Smith & Wollensky in Manhattan as part of an annual auction to benefit a charity that helps the homeless. In 2017, the winner offered nearly $2.7 million to dine with the famed investor.

But Patrick O'Shaughnessy, a New York City-based portfolio manager and author of the book "Millennial Money," didn't have to bid millions of dollars to get face-time with Buffett. O'Shaughnessy recently scored a three-hour dinner with the Oracle of Omaha, and it was all thanks to a podcast he started in 2016.

"The entire podcast began because of a rule of mine: When I read an interesting book, I email the author and ask them to lunch," he writes in a July 2017 blog post. "I emailed Jeff Gramm after I read 'Dear Chairman,' we got lunch, and we hit it off. We hatched a plan to record a conversation, and that was the beginning of the podcast."

Warren Buffett is worth $75 billion but says he would be 'very happy' with way less
Warren Buffett is worth $75 billion but says he would be 'very happy' with way less

Six weeks later, O'Shaughnessy met and recorded an episode with author and hedge-fund manager Ted Seides, who famously lost a 10-year bet with Buffett against the returns of the S&P 500. Connecting with Seides led to the once-in-a-lifetime dinner.

"Ted also happens to be friends with the best investor of all time — something I didn't know when I first met him," O'Shaughnessy writes. "Fast forward to this past week. Ted, Brent Beshore and I flew to Omaha to have dinner with Warren Buffett — street value of almost $3 million dollars, my dad reminded me."

He learned a few things from the experience. One was that "if I'd been angling to get a private dinner with him, it most likely would never have happened — because everyone hates that guy," writes O'Shaughnessy. "I think that because I am never angling for anything, the outcomes are far more interesting and improbable than if I was trying to achieve some specific goal."

Warren Buffett keeps his breakfast under $3.17
Warren Buffett keeps his breakfast under $3.17

O'Shaughnessy's philosophy has always been to focus on the journey, not the destination. "I don't expect to get anything out of this [podcast] other than the conversations themselves," he writes. "The means and the end are the same. This is so important to me. When the process itself is the goal, magical things happen."

And from the dinner itself, he learned that "Warren is just a person too — an exceptional one, but still a normal person. One that wants to shoot the breeze, tell stories, tell jokes, and learn about you.

"Knowing that even the greatest investor of all time is just a person is so reassuring. It makes anything seem possible."

CNBC reached out to O'Shaughnessy, who declined to comment further, and to Warren Buffett's team, which confirmed the dinner.

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