6 people who have been highly influential in billionaire investor Warren Buffett's life

Warren Buffett bought his first stock at 11
Warren Buffett bought his first stock at 11

Legendary investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett has always emphasized how important it is to wisely choose who you spend your time with each day.

"You will move in the direction of the people that you associate with," Buffett said at Columbia University earlier this year. "You want to associate with people who are the kind of person you'd like to be."

The billionaire has expressed his admiration for a variety of public figures, from politicians like Bernie Sanders to athletes like LeBron James, but there are just a handful of people Buffett has extensively lauded and shared his appreciation for over the years.

Here are six people who have been influential in Buffett's life.

Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos
Matthew Staver | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Buffett told CNBC in May that he not only finds e-commerce site Amazon fascinating and brilliant but also thinks its CEO Jeff Bezos "is the most remarkable business person of our age."

"We haven't seen many businessmen like him," Buffett told CNBC's "Squawk Box" last year. "There are certain people you do not want to try to beat at their own game and certainly Jeff Bezos would be number one."

Buffett pointed out that "it isn't that [Bezos has] gotten some breakthrough or found some molecule or come up with some incredible invention."

Instead, Buffett explains that Bezos has "shown an amazing talent" and business savvy which has allowed him to take things people regularly buy and figure out a way to make people happier buying those products. "That's remarkable," he said.

"I was impressed with Jeff early. I never thought he could pull off what he did. I thought he could pull off something, but on the scale it happened, it's changed your behavior and it's changed everyone in the office's behavior," Buffett said. "At the same time he's shaking up the whole retail world, he's also shaking up the IT world and I tip my hat off to him."

Howard Homan Buffett

Buffett recently told Forbes that his father, Howard Homan Buffett, was his number one teacher. Buffett's father also introduced him to his love for books and investing.

"My dad happened to be in the investment business, so when I would go down to have lunch with him on Saturdays, or whenever it might be, I would pick up the books around his office and start reading," Buffett said. "If he'd been a shoe salesman, I might be a shoe salesman now."

Why the secret to your success is who you marry
Why the secret to your success is who you marry

In the book, "The Great Minds of Investing" by William Green, Buffett said that the love and support he received from his father was the most important reason for his success.

As Green noted in an article for Observer, Buffett further shared that his dad truly believed in him.

"What I basically got from my father is unconditional love," Buffett said. "Whatever I did, he was all for it. It didn't matter how much money I made or anything like that. It was just, 'Do your best in whatever you take on.' "

In the HBO documentary "Becoming Warren Buffett" released earlier this year, Buffett recounted his father as being affectionate and inspirational.

"The best gift I was ever given was to have the father I had when I was born," Buffett said.

Benjamin Graham

Benjamin Graham, the "father of value investing"
Bettmann | Getty Images

Buffett's most talked about mentor and one of his "greatest teachers" is the late investor Benjamin Graham, the father of value investing and Buffett's most admired Columbia Business School professor.

"Ben was this incredible teacher," Buffett said in "Becoming Warren Buffett." "He was a natural, and he drew us all in. It was like learning baseball from a fellow who was batting .400. It shaped my professional life."

At 19, Buffett accidentally bought Graham's book "The Intelligent Investor," which he would eventually read about half a dozen times and would inspire his investment philosophy and strategy to this very day.

"The best thing I did was to choose the right heroes. It all comes from Graham," Buffett said in writer Roger Lowenstein's book, "Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist."

Charlie Munger

Charlie Munger, left, and Warren Buffett
ChinaFotoPress | Getty Images

Buffett's business partner and Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman Charlie Munger has been a good friend to Buffett for nearly 60 years.

"We were mental partners right from the moment we met," Buffett said in "Becoming Warren Buffett."

"He's ungodly smart, he's got a much broader intellect than I do and he's magnificent at being able to condense important ideas into just a very few words," Buffett added.

Buffett and Munger have discussed how they never fight, with Buffett admitting that he listens to Munger because "he's always honest" in what he tells him.

Warren Buffett's partner Charlie Munger shares his advice for living a rich and successful life
Warren Buffett's partner Charlie Munger shares his advice for living a rich and successful life

"Every time I'm with Charlie, I get at least some new slant on an idea that causes me to rethink certain things," Buffett said in a joint interview with Munger on CNBC's "On The Money."

Buffett added that their partnership over the years has in fact been fun and "almost hilarious."

"Obviously, we like each other a lot," Buffett said. "We have minds that work the same way to a great degree. We find the same things quite humorous [and] the things we deplore we agree on."

Bill Gates

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are friends and leading voices promoting philanthropy.
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris

Bill Gates and Buffett have been friends for just over 26 years but nearly didn't meet. In the 1990s, Gates' parents invited him to a dinner where they wanted him to meet Buffett. Despite protesting the invitation, Gates showed up, met Buffett and the rest was history.

Gates is now a shareholder and director at Berkshire Hathaway and Buffett has donated about $27.54 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and their other family charities. Earlier this year, Bill and Melinda Gates dedicated their foundation's annual letter to Buffett for his contributions and positive outlook.

In a Reddit Ask Me Anything session in February, Gates was asked, "What is your idea of success?" to which he replied by quoting his friend: "Warren Buffett has always said the measure is whether the people close to you are happy and love you."

Susan Buffett

Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, attends the company's annual shareholders' meeting with his daughter (left) and his wife, both named Susan.
Mark Peterson | Getty Images

In "Becoming Warren Buffett," the business mogul said that in his life, there have been two turning points: "One when I came out of the womb and one when I met Susie," as he called his late first wife Susan Buffett.

"I just got very, very, very lucky. I was a lopsided person," Buffett said in the documentary. "And it took a while, but she just stood there with a little watering can and just nourished me along and changed me."

Buffett told Forbes that he thinks marriage is the "ultimate partnership" which determines "the happiness in your life and your success," and added that with Susan, he felt lucky in that respect.

He also told Forbes that Susan taught him a lot about investing and credits her for teaching him to open himself up to the world emotionally.

Around the time Susan had cancer and had been hospitalized for surgery, Buffett had spent days crying after seeing her in a hospital bed, according to Alice Schroeder's biography on Buffett titled, "The Snowball."

In the weeks following that hospital visit, Buffett flew to Georgia to speak to students at Georgia Tech, where they would ask him about his greatest success in life.

"Basically, when you get to my age, you'll really measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you," he said. "You'd like to think you could write a check: I'll buy a million dollars' worth of love. But it doesn't work that way. The more you give love away, the more you get."

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