6 lessons in making life choices based on the wisdom of Warren Buffett

He wrote a letter to his shareholders and taught them how he makes decisions.

Warren Buffett isn't just rich. He's known for being ethical, straightforward, and wise. And also generous. Not just with his money but with his ideas.

Buffett straight up spelled out how he makes decisions on how to invest in and acquire businesses in a public letter sent to his shareholders. To be clear: His instincts and insights are what have made him such a rich man. And that's what he's sharing so openly with the world.

These are the six factors Warren Buffett says he considers when he's making big business decisions. Maybe they could help the rest of us think through some tough decisions in our own lives? Let's see.

Maybe you, too, are investing billions of dollars. Or, uh, maybe not. But the day-to-day choices you have to make about life could be just as tough — and important. So let's see how his lessons could apply:


1. It's gotta be a big choice and a big win.

Buffett says he prefers to acquire "large purchases (at least $75 million of pre-tax earnings unless the business will fit into one of our existing units)." Aka, go big, go bold. Not everything has to be huge, but in tough times, sometimes doing the big, scary thing is how you reap the big, amazing reward.

2. The decision has to create value for you consistently and currently.

None of this "it'll pay off in the distant future" or "it just needs some elbow grease" stuff. Whatever you're choosing, make sure it's valuable and has concrete, real-life impact. Or, as Buffett says, the acquisition must have "demonstrated consistent earning power (future projections are of no interest to us, nor are 'turnaround' situations)."

3. The decision will benefit everyone who's invested in it, and it won't leave anyone hanging.

Buffett wants "businesses earning good returns on equity while employing little or no debt," aka no one who's put time/effort/money/love into said life choice (or business move) will come out at the end with less than what they started with. Makes sense, right? Basically, don't screw people over with the choices you make. Have some heart and fairness.

4. Everything necessary for success should already be in place.

Buffett mentions that there must be "management in place" and that his company "can't supply it." Invest time and energy in things that are solid and have demonstrated reliability. That is, "don't build the ship while you sail it." Why? According to Buffett's logic, when making huge decisions, if the part that keeps makes the end result of your decision sustainable is already there, that's a very good sign.

5. The decision may be hard, but the terms should be simple.

Buffett wants simple businesses, saying — in his awesomely straightforward way — "if there's lots of technology, we won't understand it." Life isn't always simple and there's certainly a time for complexity, but the lesson here is a good one: If you're making a huge choice, don't overcomplicate it.

6. The options are clear and available.

Buffett refers to this availability, basically saying that the company has to have a price on it already and that his firm doesn't "want to waste our time or that of the seller by talking, even preliminarily, about a transaction when price is unknown." I take this to mean that the choice is a clear action. No negotiations necessary.

Bingo.

Now I'm not saying that this well-to-do investor has all the answers just because he has all the money, and I know it's a little out there to think of these investment acquisition tips as something you can apply to your own, non-billionaire life. But think about it. Fearlessness? Fairness? Preparation? These are some helpful themes we could all probably take a few lessons from.

So next time you're making a big decision, think about them. In a world where financial literacy isn't exactly the norm, looking at how financial greats make their decisions could be an interesting thing to try. Who knows? It might help you.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

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