Read 500 Pages Like This Every Day. That’s How Knowledge Works. It Builds Up, Like Compound Interest

Warren Buffett? Todd Combs? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Warren Buffett is one of the wealthiest individuals in the history of the world. His lengthy record of successful investing is remarkable. Apparently, he was once asked for guidance and offered this suggestion:

Read five-hundred pages every day.

I haven’t been able to find a citation. Would you please help?

Quote Investigator: Warren Buffett serves as chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway. In 2010 Buffett hired hedge fund manager Todd Combs to join the conglomerate as an investment manager.

Many years before that event, Combs was a student at Columbia University. He first saw Buffett during an investing class according to an article in the “Omaha World-Herald”. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Combs didn’t meet Buffett that day but says, “I still remember it like it was yesterday.”

One of the students asked what he could do now to prepare for an investing career. Buffett thought for a few seconds and then reached for the stack of reports, trade publications and other papers he had brought with him.

“Read 500 pages like this every day,” said Buffett, or words to that effect. “That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”

The article stated that Combs heeded the advice, and at the start of his investing career he would sometimes read “600, 750, even 1,000 pages a day”. Combs believed that the knowledge he gained helped him to succeed.

The veracity of the Buffett attributed quotation is based on the memory of Todd Combs who enrolled at the Columbia Business School in 2000. In his second year he was accepted into the exclusive Value Investment Program. 2 The piece in the “Omaha World-Herald” appeared in 2013.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Read 500 Pages Like This Every Day. That’s How Knowledge Works. It Builds Up, Like Compound Interest

Notes:

  1. 2013 April 28, Omaha World-Herald, Investors earn handsome paychecks by handling Buffett’s business by Steve Jordon (World-Herald Staff Writer), Omaha, Nebraska. (Accessed October 12, 2018; website omaha.com) link
  2. 2010 December, AiCIO (Trade Journal), Who Is This Man?, Publisher: Asset International, Inc., Place of publication: Stamford. (ProQuest ABI/INFORM Collection)