Dec 30th, 2007 by stewart
Warren Buffett, currently the 2nd richest person in the world, announced on June 25th, 2006 his decision to donate $37 billion worth of Berkshire Hathaway stock (based on current market values) over the next 20 years to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Warren is perhaps *the* role model of the century. He understands the true value of money, is driven by a passion for what he does and is ultimately seeking to improve the lives of his fellow human being all across the planet. Warren still lives in the same modest house in Omaha, Nebraska that he and his wife, Susan (now deceased) bought in 1957. On a Charlie Rose interview June 26th 2006, Warren says his and Susan’s intentions since they were in their 20s, was to give away the bulk of the fortune they would amass. Warren jokes that when they were young, his wife didn’t quite believe him that they were going to be rich… but that over time he was able to convince her.
Interestingly, in the interview, which also included Bill and Melinda Gates, Bill mentions Warren gave him an essay to read when Bill was much younger. Apparently this essay was the seed (perhaps the catalyst?) for The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. That essay is “The Gospel of Weath” written in 1889 by Andrew Carnegie.
Carnegie was one of the most financially successful individuals of his era, and was responsible for one of the best books on personal achievement ever written Think and Grow Rich. Perhaps most importantly, he dedicated the last years of his life towards philanthropic endeavors.
In The Gospel of Wealth, one of Carnegie’s main ideas is that vast sums of money should not be left to your children and/or foundation merely for the sake of preserving one’s family name. Instead Carnegie suggests:
“…it is a nobler ideal that man should labor, not for himself alone, but in and for a brotherhood of his fellows, and share with them all in common, realizing Swedenborg’s idea of heaven, where, as he says, the angels derive their happiness, not from laboring for self, but for each other. This is not evolution, but revolution.”
Wow, I thought, very powerful stuff.
Noteworthy, is that one of the conditions on Warren’s generous gift is that each year the money needs be spent in full (est. $1.5B/year). Warren could have setup a foundation in his own name and have it go in perpetuity, but he understands that money intrinsictly is for use, and wants to see it put to use and do good during his lifetime.
Another key idea from the Gospel of Wealth I thought worth sharing:
“In bestowing charity, the main consideration should be to help those who will help themselves; to provide part of the means by which those who desire to improve may do so; to give those who desire to rise the aids by which they may rise; to assist, but rarely or never to do all.”
Deep, meaningful, inspirational and practical advice. I love it.
To sum it up, labor for your fellow man, lift them up and be part of the revolution.