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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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

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The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

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Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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