Weekly Thoughts


Lifestyle Habits   

What Matters?

Readers of this newsletter will be familiar with Warren Buffett’s immense financial successes.  One aspect our readers may be less familiar with is the 91-year-old’s lifestyle habits, which are notoriously unfashionable. He has joked he is “one-quarter Cola-Cola” and his diet consists mostly of hamburgers, ice cream, and coke.  He can (and frequently does) crush a package of peanut brittle.  His exercise regime is questionable at best.  From Mashed

“Yes, Buffett eats like a kindergartener whose parents are away. He downs three cans of Coke before leaving for work. For breakfast, he may have a bowl of ice cream, or Utz potato chips. Buffett’s logic? ‘I checked the actuarial tables, and the lowest death rate is among 6-year-olds, so I decided to eat like a 6-year-old. It’s the safest course I can take,’ he reasoned with Fortune.”

These days, to be considered a “high-performer” it is fashionable to practice a variety of lifestyle habits such as 4 AM wake-ups, cold plunging, breathing exercises, intermittent fasting, plant-based-gluten-free-organic-diets, daily affirmations, high-intensity exercise, meditation, 2x speed podcasts…. it can be daunting to keep up.  For instance, as part of the Theranos lawsuit, Elizabeth Holmes’ daily schedule was published.  It went as follows: 

4:00: Rise & thank God 

4:00-4:15:  Wash face, change 

4:15-4:45: Meditate, clear mind

4:45-5:20: Work out 

5:20-6:20: Change, shower, share, perfect

6:20-6:30: Pray 

6:30-6:45: Breakfast (banana, whey) 

6:40: drive to THE  

Lunch: Salad w/tofu, tabbouleh & green drink 

Dinner: Broccoli w quinoa

Well, that very fashionable start to the day didn’t work out so well for Elizabeth (she also may have made better decisions if she’s gotten more sleep and eaten more food…).  On the flip side, Buffett has shown a track record of success over decades despite not following any of the current lifestyle advice.  How is that possible?  Again, from Mashed:  

“Warren Buffett doesn’t need much to keep him happy. He has been going to the same office for over half a century, residing in the same house that he purchased in 1958 (for $31,500). ‘I’m having a vacation every day. If there was someplace else I wanted to go, I’d go there. This is the pleasure palace here — you’re sitting in it now. I have more fun here than I think any 88-year-old is having, virtually, in the world.’ he told Financial Times in 2019. What he eats, therefore, is also solely based on the happiness test.”

Our sense is that many of the current lifestyle trends may (or may not) be helpful…at the margin.  Buffett has performed for decades because he has figured out the big stuff — a lifestyle that reduces his stress and makes him happy.  He spends 80% of his day reading.  He has no computer in his office.  He sleeps eight hours a night and blocks time each week for playing bridge.  Most importantly, he “tap dances to work” where he spends his time engaging with people he actually likes.  If you’re looking for truly long-term performance, it’s good to remember that no amount of cold-plunging, intermittent fasting, or daily affirmations can de-stress a person who is not deeply content in her work or relationships.

Have a great week,

Your Chenmark Team

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