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Before Warren Buffett made his fortune, he took a job without asking what the salary was—here's why

Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffett believes in working with people you respect.

"Try to work for whomever you admire most," the investing legend told author Gillian Zoe Segal in an interview for her 2015 book, "Getting There: A Book of Mentors." "It won't necessarily be the job that you'll have 10 years later, but you'll have the opportunity to pick up so much as you go along."

It's advice that served him well: When he was starting his career, well before he made his billions, Buffett took a job with his mentor and hero, Benjamin Graham, without even asking about the salary. "I found that out at the end of the month when I got my paycheck," he told Segal.

The decision paid off, career-wise. Buffett, who was one of Graham's students at Columbia Business School, says that his former professor largely shaped his career and investment philosophy.

Try to work for whomever you admire most.
Warren Buffett
Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO

While salary is an important factor when thinking about your career, "You don't want to take a job just for the money," said Buffett, "and you should never work for people who make your stomach churn or who keep you up at night."

Buffett's longtime business partner, Charlie Munger, who has also made a name for himself as one of today's most successful investors, offers similar career advice. "Don't work for anyone you don't respect and admire," he has said. "Work only with people you enjoy."

The two billionaires agree that this advice is most effective if you've chosen a career path that interests you. "I have never succeeded very much in anything in which I was not very interested," Munger said. "If you can't somehow find yourself very interested in something, I don't think you'll succeed very much, even if you're fairly smart."

Passion pays off, Buffett told Segal: "You want to be excited when you get out of bed in the morning. I tap dance to work every day."

Don't miss: Billionaire Warren Buffett just turned 89—here are 6 pieces of wisdom from the investing legend

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Warren Buffett, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
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