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The Snowball Warren Buffett and the Business of Life Alice Schroeder BANTAM BOOKS To David I t is the winter of Warrens ninth year. Outside in the yard, he and his little sister, Bertie, are playing in the snow. Warren is catching snowflakes. One at a time at first. Then he is scooping them up by handfuls. He starts to pack them into a ball. As the snowball grows bigger, he places it on the ground. Slowly it begins to roll. He gives it a push, and it picks up more snow. He pushes the snowball across the lawn, piling snow on snow. Soon he reaches the edge of the yard. After a moment of hesitation, he heads off, rolling the snowball through the neighborhood. And from there, Warren continues onward, casting his eye on a whole world full of snow. PART ONE The Bubble 1 The Less Flattering Version Omaha June 2003 W arren Buffett rocks back in his chair, long legs crossed at the knee behind his father Howards plain wooden desk. His expensive Zegna suit jacket bunches around his shoulders like an untailored version bought off the rack. The jacket stays on all day, every day, no matter how casually the other fifteen employees at Berkshire Hathaway headquarters are dressed. His predictable white shirt sits low on the neck, its undersize collar bulging away from his tie, looking left over from his days as a young businessman, as if he had forgotten to check his neck size for the last forty years. His hands lace behind his head through strands of whitening hair. One particularly large and messy finger- combed chunk takes off over his skull like a ski jump, lofting upward at the knoll of his right ear. His shaggy right eyebrow wanders toward it above the tortoiseshell glasses. At various times this eyebrow gives him a skeptical, knowing, or beguiling look. Right now he wears a subtle smile, which lends the wayward eyebrow a captivating air. Nonetheless, his pale-blue eyes are focused and intent.... View Full Document
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