“I just decided that I’d made a mistake.”

Those are the words of Warren Buffett, one of the world’s most famous and successful investors.

Buffett offered the apology at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting which was held virtually this year, to the disappointment of tens of thousands of shareholders who normally attend what is referred to as the Woodstock of Capitalism.

In 2016, Berkshire revealed a surprise bet on the airline sector that Buffett had previously avoided.

By the end of 2019, the conglomerate had held sizeable positions in the airlines, including an 11% stake in Delta Air Lines, 10% of American Airlines Co, 10% of Southwest Airlines Co and 9% of United Airlines at the end of 2019, according to its annual report and company filings.

I wrote a post a few years ago about how hard it is for some people to admit when they are wrong. That post included a scene I’ve always remembered from Happy Days:

While I have always been impressed with Buffett’s investing ability, I have new respect for the 89-year old Oracle of Omaha after he openly admitted his mistake regarding his investment in airline stocks. He could have placed the blame on others or on covid-19. But he took responsibility for the decision and admitted it was a bad one.

I’ve always admired people who admit when they are wrong, and little respect for those who don’t. We’ve all been wrong about something at some point in our lives, so why not simply admit to it.

I mean if The Fonz can do it, then what’s your excuse?

sources:

Marketwatch

CNBC

The Star Phoenix

*image from Financial Times

48 thoughts on ““I just decided that I’d made a mistake.”

  1. Buffett may have been impressed with the way Delta, American, United and Southwest turned the airline industry into an oligopoly and began using their market power to extract sizeable profits from customers.

    Buffett forgot Richard Branson’s joke about becoming a millionaire: Start with a billion dollars and buy an airline.

    I totally agree that being able to admit mistakes is a mark of a strong leader. Never taking responsibility for failure and always blaming others are traits of a weak one. No need to name names here.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. the airlines had been doing quite well, as you point out. obviously, nobody expected a global pandemic…

      love the Richard Branson joke, had not heard it before!

      and yes, no need to name names…

      Like

  2. Great post! Yes, when you are wrong, say you are wrong! We as a society have learned the blame game so well!! Like yous said, if the Fonz can admit he was wrong, than come on, for there is no one who is cooler than the Fonz! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Ummm… wait, that answer gives the impression that you will actually contemplate the idea! I seem to remember you saying you would be afraid of the reactions before when I had suggested a poll. So I felt safe saying that, but now … LOL!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh sure, now you tell me that you wouldn’t mind writing a post about it! Well, I guess we will see. 🙂 Perhaps if you really are brave enough…and I dare to watch it a 2nd time I will keep notes about each scene that drives me crazy! Ha Ha!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m in full agreement, Jim. People become more likable when they can admit they’ve made mistakes and screwed up since we all have faults. I will add the caveat that if they’ve lied for a long time, and then confessed, I have a lot less compassion for them.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. i have always been impressed by his straight-forward, no frills, and smart approach to life and investing. an apology is powerful and says so much about a person. the ability to say ‘i was wrong’ or ‘i made a mistake’ is human and honest.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Great post, Jim! I agree with your views on honesty. We should be as ready and willing to own our mistakes as we are our successes. I have made a ton of mistakes in my life, so I have had a lot of practice at owning them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks, Brad. I’m with you – I’ve made lots of mistakes over the years, but I think as long as you take responsibility and learn from those mistakes, people are willing to forgive you.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I agree. That’s one reason why I get so annoyed at people who point and bray when politicians change policies. I respect those who can keep an open mind and change it when new information becomes available. Anyyone can get it wrong – especially if you’ve been listening to the wrong people.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Did Mr. Buffet truly make a mistake? At what price did he buy stock of these airlines and at what price did he sell? When did he sell? Above or below his investment? He knows – in time – the value of these stocks will increase. He’s cucumber cool.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. good point; he bought many of these stocks back in 2016, and for the next three years after that, the airline industry did quite well. So even though he sold these at a loss, I do not think it was a significant one…

      Liked by 1 person

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