CNBC make it 2024-05-16 02:00:59

Harvard expert: The No. 1 lesson to learn from Warren Buffett’s career—‘you can’t be really successful’ without it

Warren Buffett holds a unique place in the hearts and minds of investors all over the world.

A key trait helped him reach such prestige, according to Harvard University leadership expert Bill George: Buffett, the longtime CEO of holding company Berkshire Hathaway, found the “sweet spot” between doing something he’s good at and doing something he actually enjoys.

Achieving that balance makes leaning on your strengths and staying motivated over time easier, says George, a Harvard Business School executive fellow and ex-CEO of medical device company Medtronic.

“To be truly successful, to do anything great, you have to use your strengths,. You can’t just correct your weaknesses,” George tells CNBC Make It. Motivation is equally important, he adds: If your work “doesn’t excite you, it just becomes a time attack.”

“So I think you need both to be truly successful,” he says. “You can get by on one, but you can’t be really successful unless you have both.”

George studied Buffett’s leadership and Berkshire Hathaway’s shareholder meetings ahead of co-writing his 2022 book, “True North: Emerging Leader Edition.” Figuring out what drives you and what you have to offer the world is the first step to achieving Buffett’s level of self awareness, George and co-author Zach Clayton wrote — but that’s easier said than done. 

Here’s how to tap into the same sweet spot Buffett found, says George.

Find what motivates you

There are two types of motivation, George says: extrinsic motivation, like a comfortable salary, and intrinsic motivation, like enjoying a job where you get to help people every day.

Both play a role in career longevity. “If you’re just motivated by making a lot of money, it will run out on you. You’ll find that things are very hollow and you don’t actually have the joy you thought you had,” George notes.

Buffett likely has his extrinsic motivations covered: At age 93, he’s the seventh-richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of $135.6 billion, according to Forbes.

His intrinsic motivations, however — sharing his knowledge and wealth with others, including detailed explanations of his investment strategies and a promise to pledge 99% of his fortune to charity —  may be what truly drives him, George says.

Buffett didn’t immediately respond to CNBC Make It’s request for comment.

Becoming more successful can start with figuring out your own intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, says George. One potential starting place: Take a few minutes to observe and write down a list of activities and passions you enjoy, and goals you have for yourself, suggests a 2023 blog post from job search platform Indeed.

“Ask yourself what matters to you and why you take the actions that you do,” the blog post advises. “These motivations can be varied, like earning a livelihood or contributing to the progress of a discipline or industry. When you understand why you want to accomplish something, you can use this to motivate yourself.”

Home in on your strengths

Finding a job that fulfills you only gets so far. You also need to figure out a way to apply your biggest strengths to it, so you can excel at it.

Professionals who exercise their strengths every day are six times more likely to be engaged in the workplace, three times more likely to report having an excellent quality of life and 8% more productive, a 2015 Gallup analysis found.

Buffett’s strengths include autonomy, avoiding mistakes and optimism, George and Clayton wrote in their book — plus his keen eye for a good investment, which he started cultivating at age 11. Buffett is also “sloppy” with hands-on management, and doesn’t like letting go of employees or telling others what to do, the billionaire said at Berkshire Hathaway’s 2014 shareholder meeting.

Knowing his weaknesses helped Buffett build a team of executives who can help in those areas, allowing him to focus on what he does best, says George. If you’re not the boss, you can still identify the moments when your weaknesses show up, practice getting better at them and give yourself grace when things get difficult, bestselling author Joseph Grenny wrote for Harvard Business Review in 2017.

Similarly, you can get in tune with your strengths by asking your manager for feedback and paying attention to when you’re most productive — jotting down the task you were doing at that moment. The more you learn, the more you can take on opportunities and projects that better align with your capabilities.

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Apple co-founder shares his parents’ strategy to raising him: I’m ‘the same way with my own kids’

It’s an age-old question for parents: Should you push your children into specific activities and educational pursuits or fully let them follow their own passions?

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, 73, says his parents took the latter approach — and he’s happier and more successful because of it. He used the same strategy when raising his own children, he added.

“My parents let me follow my heart,” he told graduating students at the University of Colorado Boulder last week. “When you really want something, love something and it’s your passion, you should have your parents supporting you going in your direction. Not telling you, ‘No. You should study this. You should go to this school.’”

The California native matriculated to the University of Colorado Boulder in 1968 and majored in computer science. His parents had enough money saved up for only one year of out-of-state tuition, he said — but they still encouraged him to attend the school of his choice and pursue his love for technology, a field they had no idea would become so lucrative.

Wozniak was expelled in 1969 after hacking into the university’s computer systems and sending prank messages. He re-enrolled in college — first at De Anza College, and then at the University of California, Berkeley — and was introduced to Steve Jobs by a mutual friend before dropping out of Berkeley in 1971.

Five years later, Jobs and Wozniak co-founded Apple. Both men became millionaires when the company went public in 1980. Today, Apple has a $2.8 trillion market capitalization and is the second-largest company in the world.

Now, Wozniak provides his kids the same kind of support his parents gave him, he said.

“I’ve treated that the same way with my own kids,” he said. “My parents didn’t force their values on me … They let me choose for myself so I was careful to be that way with my own children.”

The tactic is effective, according to parenting expert Margot Machol Bisnow, who interviewed the parents of 70 highly successful adults for her 2022 book, “Raising an Entrepreneur: How to Help Your Children Achieve Their Dreams.”

When you don’t encourage your kids’ passions — especially if you fear they won’t make enough money as adults — you show that you don’t trust them, Bisnow told CNBC Make It last year. High levels of trust and support children build the confidence they need to eventually excel at whatever they do, she added.

Want to make extra money outside of your day job? Sign up for CNBC’s new online course How to Earn Passive Income Online to learn about common passive income streams, tips to get started and real-life success stories. CNBC Make It readers can use special discount code CNBC40 to get 40% off through 8/15/24.

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Self-made millionaire: 7 frugal habits I will never give up, no matter how much money I have

As a first-generation Filipina-American, saving money wherever and however possible was ingrained in me early on, as I watched my immigrant parents try to live the American dream.

But in 2016, between mortgages, student loans and everyday bills, I found myself in $300,000 of debt that left me feeling anxious and hopeless about my ability to pursue that American dream for myself. I started developing a passion for personal finance because I wanted to learn everything I could to help me change my situation. 

I made a plan, paid off my debt in three years and ultimately became a millionaire in my thirties. Today, I run a coaching business called Crush Your Money Goals, where I teach others how to make their money work for them. 

Regardless of how much wealth I continue to build, these are seven frugal habits that I don’t intend to quit— no matter how much money I have.

DON’T MISS: The ultimate guide to earning passive income online

1. I buy the least expensive cuts of meat 

Yes, I’m the woman who’s blocking the chicken section, looking for the cheapest pack of chicken thighs to save an extra 23 cents.

For example, I absolutely love eating Korean barbecue. Beef short-ribs can be expensive. At my local international grocery store in Charlotte, North Carolina, the traditional cut is $11.99 per pound, but I buy the end-cuts that are only $7.99 per pound.

They aren’t as pretty, but since they have fewer bones, I find them to be easier to prepare. They are delicious and ultimately better for my budget in the long run. 

2. I save my hotel room vanity kits 

As part of my work with Crush Your Money Goals, I often travel for paid speaking engagements — and I’m always excited when the hotel provides a complimentary vanity kit. The items in these kits can come handy in unexpected situations, especially if you’re on the go. 

My favorites have been from my trips to Asia, where they often include toothbrushes, toothpastes and higher-than-expected quality combs and hair elastics. I use the shower caps and hair elastics to organize my various electronics like spare chargers and converters.

I’ve even repurposed those extra toothbrushes and toothpastes to clean my shoes when they’ve gotten dirty from long walking tours.

3. I repurpose my takeout food containers

Did your parents also keep leftovers in old margarine and cool whip containers? The takeout containers I get from restaurants nowadays are so much fancier than those Country Crock tubs my mom used. 

Now, instead of discarding the containers, I reuse them for my own storage purposes. They often come in various sizes and are sturdier than traditional plastic tubs, making them perfect for storing leftovers or organizing small items around the house. It’s also more environmentally friendly than tossing them after a single use. 

4. I use every drop of my favorite beauty products 

I’m not embarrassed to say that I will be squeezing that toothpaste tube until I get that very last dot. I recently saw a friend throw theirs out too soon and I nearly passed out. I feel the same ways about personal hygiene and beauty products, especially when it comes to skin-care. 

It may sound too frugal to some, but a lot of it stems from having grown up with eczema, a skin condition that has required me to spend tens of thousands of dollars on medications and specialized lotions. 

These products helped me avoid getting bullied as a kid, and now stop me from feeling self-conscious as an adult — especially as someone who speaks in front of large audiences. You can bet I will absolutely get my money’s worth out of that $30 bottle of lotion!

5. I look at the menu prices before I choose my order 

I’m proud to say that I’ve reached a new comfort level in my finances: I order the extra guacamole. But no matter how much I earn, when I’m dining out, I don’t think I’ll ever kick the habit of reading what the dish costs first before I make my decision about my meal. 

I’ve noticed that many restaurants strategically place higher-price items at the beginning of the menu to catch your attention. So what I do is start at the end. By reading in reverse, I’ll usually spot the more affordable options first. You can still enjoy a premium meal without the attendant price tag. 

6. I preserve high-quality shopping bags 

Growing up, my mom saved every single bag, even if it was just the flimsy plastic ones, to use for trash, or food scraps, as she peeled vegetables. So I admit, I do have my own collection of bags hidden underneath my kitchen sink. But give me a well-made, stylish and sturdy shopping bag, and I will make sure I get my money’s worth out of it!

Those can serve as carriers for snacks, lunches or small items when I’m on the go. I also don’t feel as bad if I lose them, or have to toss them for convenience. I always keep a disposable bag or two in my luggage when I travel.

7. I wear free T-shirts to the gym

Thanks to the rise of the athleisure industry, sometimes going to the gym feels more like a fashion show than a fitness routine. Since I go to several conferences and events a year that offer swag, I will gladly wear those free T-shirts to my yoga dance classes instead of spending money on designer workout clothes.

I’ve also lost way too many water bottles to feel good about buying an expensive one, so the free water bottles I get in those gift bags suit me just fine, too. 

Why these frugal habits will always mean so much to me 

These seemingly silly saving habits make me feel way less guilty spending money in areas where others might feel the pinch. For example, I will happily shell out more for experiences that matter to me, like seeing K-Pop concerts and live comedy events, and buying from local and women-owned businesses, even if it is a bit more expensive.

Maintaining these frugal habits also remind me of the choices my parents made in order to give me so many options now. Learning to see the value in little everyday activities is what has helped me become a better budgeter, a more confident investor and, ultimately, become a millionaire. 

Bernadette Joy is the CEO of Crush Your Money Goals, a personal finance training company serving up education with a side of pizzazz. As the eighth child in her father’s brood of nine and a first-gen Filipina-American, Bernadette understands those who feel like they missed the money memo and wants to help others find their financial peace. Bernadette paid off  $300,000 of debt in three years, and became a millionaire in her 30s. As a money coach, she has helped thousands ditch debt, master their savings, and start investing. Bernadette loves K-pop, yoga, karaoke and spoiling her nieces and nephews. You can find her on Instagram and YouTube.

Want to make extra money outside of your day job? Sign up for CNBC’s new online course How to Earn Passive Income Online to learn about common passive income streams, tips to get started and real-life success stories.

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The top 10 most affordable colleges on the ‘New Ivies’ list from Forbes—2 are private schools

Going to an Ivy League school for college may help you earn a competitive salary down the line. But it may cost you a hefty sum upfront.

The average tuition price across the Ivy League colleges is $64,829 — and that’s before factoring in housing, food, books and other fees, according to the schools’ latest available listed prices.

While several of the elite institutions including Princeton University and Harvard College boast no-loan policies that allow students with demonstrated need to attend for free, federal financial aid recipients still pay an average $22,968 a year for their Ivy League education, according to the Department of Education’s College Scorecard data.

Other colleges may offer just as good an education at a much affordable price. Forbes recently named 20 colleges — 10 private and 10 public schools — the “new Ivies.” These schools have comparable reputations among hiring managers for producing adept workers and have similarly competitive admissions rates.

What’s more, many of these schools are far more affordable. 

The average tuition for your first year at the 10 most-affordable new Ivies is $42,233, according to a CNBC Make It analysis of the latest tuition data available. That number reflects out-of-state tuition prices for the public schools included. Federal financial aid recipients at these schools pay an average $15,436 a year, according to the College Scorecard.

Public schools tend to have lower sticker prices than private schools. Often, as is the case with Ivy League schools, private colleges can offer better financial aid packages through institutional grants and scholarships. 

These are the 10 new Ivies with the lowest average net price, according to Department of Education data:

1. University of Florida

  • Out-of-state tuition: $28,658
  • Average net price: $6,275

2. University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill

  • Out-of-state tuition: $39,228
  • Average net price: $12,414

3. Georgia Institute of Technology

  • Out-of-state tuition: $32,940
  • Average net price: $14,588

4. Rice University

  • Out-of-state tuition: $62,874
  • Average net price: $15,091

5. University of Illinois Urbana—Champaign

  • Out-of-state tuition: $36,760 – $44,664 (varies based on major)
  • Average net price: $16,109

6. University of Maryland—College Park

  • Out-of-state tuition: $39,464
  • Average net price: $16,590

7. University of Michigan—Ann Arbor

  • Out-of-state tuition: $27,864 (figure reflects 2023-24 tuition price, 2024-25 price not available)
  • Average net price: $16,792

8. University of Wisconsin—Madison

  • Out-of-state tuition: $42,104
  • Average net price: $16,834

9. University of Texas—Austin

  • Out-of-state tuition: $40,582 – $48,712 (varies based on major)
  • Average net price: $18,850

10. Johns Hopkins University

  • Out-of-state tuition: $64,730
  • Average net price: $20,820

Want to make extra money outside of your day job? Sign up for CNBC’s new online course How to Earn Passive Income Online to learn about common passive income streams, tips to get started and real-life success stories. CNBC Make It readers can use special discount code CNBC40 to get 40% off through 8/15/24.

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Richard Branson says money isn’t a good way to measure success: Focus on this 1 word instead

Richard Branson doesn’t want to be defined by his money.

Specifically, he finds it “quite insulting” when he is introduced as “the billionaire Richard Branson,” rather than as the co-founder of Virgin Group, he tells CNBC Make It. The reason: Nobody should view their net worth as an ultimate measure of success, and it’s “very sad” when making money is the sole focus of a person’s life, he says.

“Maybe in America, ‘billionaire’ is a sign of success, but that rankles me,” says Branson. “I think that your reputation is what you create.”

In Branson’s case, his reputation is often defined by Virgin Group, a venture capital and holding company that owns businesses in a wide variety of industries, from airlines and telecommunications to spaceflight.

The company is largely responsible for his estimated net worth of $2.5 billion, according to Forbes — but he chafes at the idea he created it to make money.

“Your reputation is [whether] your team of people who work with you are proud of what they’ve created,” Branson says. “Paying the bills at the end of the year is important, but what entrepreneurs are doing all over the world today — and the only reason they’re succeeding — is that they’re making a difference in other people’s lives. And that’s all that really matters.”

Whenever Branson launches a new venture — citing Virgin Atlantic in 1984 and Virgin Mobile in 1999 — he asks himself two questions, he says:

  • If I create this, can it be better than what everybody else is doing?
  • Can it make a real difference in the world?

Financial success has often followed, but Branson is adamant that money has never been his chief motivating force.

His first successful business venture, a youth culture magazine called “Student,” was primarily meant to challenge “stale” traditional publications, Branson has noted. It tackled cultural issues like popular music and campaigning against the Vietnam War.

“I wanted it to survive. And yes, I wanted to have enough advertising to pay the printers and the paper manufacturers,” he says. “But money was certainly not the motivation for running a magazine.”

Branson’s top advice for becoming successful

Branson’s advice: Seek out opportunities you find interesting and exciting. It’s a recipe for greater happiness, and you’re more likely to end up successful than if you’re only thinking about the bottom line, he says.

“We only have one life,” says Branson. “We spend a lot of time at work and it’d be sad if we’re only doing it for our paychecks.”

Of course, success is never guaranteed. If you do follow your passions, you’ll still need factors like talent and perseverance on your side to avoid falling flat, experts say.

But Branson isn’t the only billionaire who advises that personal fulfillment doesn’t always have to come from amassing great wealth.

“Success isn’t necessarily how much money you have,” serial entrepreneur and investor Mark Cuban told LinkedIn’s “The Path” podcast last year. “Success is just setting a goal and being able to wake up every morning feeling really good about what you’ve accomplished.”

Cuban, who grew up in a blue-collar family near Pittsburgh, has long held that his career path was dictated more by a desire to control his own time than any financial aspirations.

“Time is the one asset you can never get back. You can never truly own [it],” he said at SXSW in March. “I wanted to be … in a position where I get to call my own shots [and] spend time the way I wanted to spend time. That was always my motivating factor.”

Want to make extra money outside of your day job? Sign up for CNBC’s new online course How to Earn Passive Income Online to learn about common passive income streams, tips to get started and real-life success stories.

Plus, sign up for CNBC Make It’s newsletter to get tips and tricks for success at work, with money and in life.

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