Friday, November 21, 2008

Focus (Part 2)

As a follow up to my previous post "Focus", this post is derived from a book I have recently been reading called The Snowball - Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder.

While having dinner with some very successful people, the story tells how Warren Buffett (Biography) met Bill Gates and described what is meant by "focus", their key to success.

Excerpt from The Snowball:
"Then at dinner, Bill Gates Sr. posed the question to the table: What factor did people feel was the most important in getting to where they'd gotten in life? And I (Warren) said 'Focus'. And Bill (Gates) said the same thing."

It is unclear how many people at the table (Katherine Graham, Tom Foley, Jerry Grinstein) understood "focus" as Buffett lived that word. This kind of innate focus couldn't be emulated. It meant the intensity that is the price of excellence. It meant the discipline and passionate perfectionism that made Thomas Edison the quintessential American investor, Walt Disney the king of family entertainment, and James Brown the Godfather of Soul. It meant the depth of commitment and mental independence that led Jeannette Rankin to stand alone as the only representative in Congress to vote against U.S. entry into both World Wars in the face of widespread ridicule. It meant single-minded obsession with an ideal. "Focus" meant the kind of person who could earn billions by allocation capital (referring to Buffett), yet to be baffled by a sign that said "No TP."
"TP" refers to a note on the door of a bathroom which Buffett had not understood what it meant when he saw it.

It is clear what they mean. Focus is putting all of your efforts mainly into one thing. Something that you are extremely good at, something that you have unlimited motivation for, something that you are or could be the best at in the world. Gates is undoubtedly one of the best businessmen in the world, Buffett is the best capital allocator and they both achieved these heights because of one word - Focus.

Intense focus on something will likely achieve you insurmountable results, and the above two heroes are proof of that.

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