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​by Hamed Alam, 2Y 2018

Over the past year or so, the Kellogg experience has given me more than I ever imagined, such as the opportunity to make the brightest and most humble lifelong friends, many of whom I was lucky to have beside me at my wedding this past May. Yet, the Kellogg experience continues to exceed my high expectations.

The opportunity that will likely serve as one the greatest highlights of my time at Kellogg came to me a few weeks ago, the opportunity to meet Warren Buffett in Omaha. I’m sure it will be an experience I will never forget!

Kellogg students are preparing to meet Warren Buffett

To many, Warren Buffett is known for pioneering the world of business and investing. To me, he’s simply one of the best thinkers, regardless of the subject matter, and philanthropists the world has ever seen. In fact, Northwestern University itself has been fortunate to have benefited from the Buffett family’s generosity with the Buffett Institute for Global Studies.

Today, Warren is around 87 years “young” and has amassed a “small” fortune of more than $80 billion! Yet, he remains one of the most humble and energetic people in the business world. I recall one of Warren’s famous quotes: “It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.” So, on Friday, 20 Kellogg students will be doing just that when we have the privilege to spend a day with Warren at Berkshire Hathaway.

Now, while we are in Omaha, we are also hoping to grab a meal at the infamous Gorat Steakhouse, (known as Warren’s favorite steakhouse). If we are lucky, we may even be able to enjoy an ice cream or two at Dairy Queen, where the billionaire has been known to be a regular customer (and subsequent owner) for many decades.

On a more serious note, it goes without saying that all Kellogg students have a ton to learn from Warren’s remarkable life history as we look forward in our careers and lives. I can think of countless questions to ask Warren. Would he still pursue an investment career, if he was in his 20s or 30s, today? How has his “circle of competence” evolved over the decades? Why partner with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to distribute his fortune over the coming decades, instead of starting his own foundation, like many fortunate individuals have? What does he read regularly? What topics does he want to learn more about? Does he somehow still find eight hours in his week to play his favorite game (bridge)? And so on…

Warren once famously said, “What we learn from history is that people don’t learn from history.” Taking that in mind, when asked to pose Warren a question for the meeting, I have asked:

“Warren, over the years you’ve talked about the role mentors, such as Ben Graham, have played in your life. I was wondering, who are some of the historical figures in and outside of the investment world that have taught you invaluable lessons and have shaped your thinking in investing and philanthropy?”

Let’s see what Warren has to say! If I can get an answer to just that question alone, I will consider myself extremely lucky.

Right, before I go on for too long, I still cannot believe on Friday I will be meeting a person who continues to greatly shape my thinking about the world. I look forward to informing you about some of the Omaha highlights in my next post.

Thank you to Warren, Berkshire Hathaway and the Kellogg Community for an opportunity of a lifetime.