Buffet? No, not the “Oracle of Omaha”, Warren Buffet… I mean his son, Peter. The investment banker, who will soon take the helm of Berkshire Hathaway? No – the other son, the musician. You haven’t heard about him?
Here is a chance to learn something about Peter Buffet, the composer, his family, and about… his mistakes.
Peter Buffet published Life Is What You Make It: Find Your Own Path to Fulfillment (Three Rivers Press, 2011) a few years ago. I recently came across the audiobook edition, which I happened to listen to while jogging or working out in the gym. It is worth reading it.
I approached this book with lots of skepticism, thinking, here we go again… another wealthy man, bored by life, is trying to teach us how to live… What does he know about life struggles and suffering? I was wrong. Peter Buffet has not been subjected to financial hardship; however, he has been through other set of emotional and personal struggles, which teach equally valuable lesson.
With Life is What You Make It Peter Buffer makes a candid effort to derive wisdom from his personal situation – being the son of the wealthiest man on earth and having the chance to meet many people with money and influence. He portrays himself as a humble, hard-working guy, who did not take the easy path to monetize his privileged position. His goal was (and he makes a point to say he was successful) to be himself and pursue his own interests and ambitions regardless of his father status in the society. The book has some interesting anecdotes and real life stories aiming to convince you what Peter thinks in important in life.
Here a few nuggets of wisdom as Peter Buffet see them:
- privilege means having choices, not money
- success should not be measured by the amount of money you make, but by the satisfaction you get from what you are doing
- trust in people, they generally have good intention
- a good personal work ethic is to meet the challenges of self-discovery
- commitment moves the world, make your choice and commit fully to it, everything else will follow
He deserves the credit for having the conviction, the stamina and the will power not to follow his father path, but rather pursue his own career in writing music. In his own words, he has succeeded as a composer and the shear fact that he is doing what he wants to do, brings him tremendous satisfaction.
Despite the fact that some parts of the book sound to idealistic and paint his childhood in rosy colors, Peter Buffet’s voice comes across as someone, who understands the life of the ordinary people, because he claims to be one of them. He lived away from his family and supported himself financially by working various jobs. He made mistakes, but at the end, Peter devoted his time to writing music for TV commercials and finally for the movies (like Dances with wolves).
Indeed, this is a life looks quite different from the world of investments, stock markets and takeovers, where his father shines. Still, his efforts to stay away from the temptation and dangers of dealing with huge amounts of money, does not seem to work in his favour all the time. A few years ago, Warren Buffet announced that he is giving most of his wealth to charity. As part of his family responsibility Peter and his brother are given the task to direct and oversee the distributions of billions of dollars. How much time does Peter have now to write music? My guess is – not much. The decisions he has to make now involving $10 billion dollars charity fund must be frightening to someone, who consciously has stayed away from such activities.
Throughout the book one can trace the author’s affinity to Buddhism and ancient philosophy. It would be a stretch to say that Peter Buffet has unearthed some unique nuggets of wisdom about the way one should leave his life. Quoting the famous phrase “Unexamined life is not worth living” Peter Buffet even mistakenly attributes these words to Plato. No, it was Socrates, who said it during his trial for heresy. The important thing is that the author does make a good effort to examine his own life and present the result to you, the reader to judge.
It’s a good read.