Get To Work: With Suzy Welch

Suzy Welch: The life-changing lesson I learned from Warren Buffett

Suzy Welch: The life-changing lesson Warren Buffett taught me at a dinner party
Suzy Welch: The life-changing lesson Warren Buffett taught me at a dinner party

Legendary investor Warren Buffett is known not only for his sage investing advice but for his personal advice as well

In fact, bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch says an experience she once had with Buffett changed her career "forever."

Welch tells CNBC Make It that she and Buffett were seated next to each other at a mutual friend's dinner party. Though she had met him a few times before, Welch says she was still thrilled as she "imagined an evening listening to the 'Oracle of Omaha' opine away."

CNBC Contributor Suzy Welch

"But no," she says. "Just as we were about to sit down, Warren looked at me slyly and pulled from his pocket an egg timer, which he dramatically set for 15 minutes."

Placing the egg timer between the two of them, Welch says Buffett told her, "that's how long I get to talk with you before I lose you to your partner on your left. And not a minute shorter!"

She says the two chatted until the buzzer sounded, signaling that it was time for them to turn to their other side. Then, when the 15-minute timer went off again, Welch says Buffett turned to her and said, "Goodie, you're back."

"Warren Buffett is known to be very nice," says Welch. "He was also the most important person in that room — and yet, he made me feel like I mattered as much as he did."

She says her "egg buzzer encounter" with Buffett reminded her of Maya Angelou's famous quote: "People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel."

Welch says that after the dinner, she started to think more about how she made people feel when she was in the "power seat."

"Did they feel heard? Seen? Valued?" she asked herself. "It's a galvanizing question, isn't it? Even if you're not the boss, entering a conversation with humility makes you more of a person, not less."

She adds that it also makes you "more generous, more human, more understood — and more respected yourself."

"It's a simple mind shift, but transformative in all the right ways — thank you, Warren Buffett." 

And if you want to incorporate this habit into your own life, she says, "you don't even need an egg timer to do it."

Suzy Welch is the co-founder of the Jack Welch Management Institute and a noted business journalist, TV commentator and public speaker. Think you need Suzy to fix your career? Email her at

Video by Beatriz Bajuelos Castillo

Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!

More from Suzy Welch:

3 surefire ways to turn your summer internship into a full-time job

How to know if you're being set up to fail at work

2 strategies for surviving a micromanager—and 1 that will get you fired

How to turn your summer internship into a job offer
How to turn your summer internship into a job offer