How to Have Lunch With Warren Buffett – The Wall Street Journal

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Human beings really want to have lunch with Warren Buffett. In a charity auction, a person already bid more than $4 million to dine midday with the famed investor, with a few hours of bidding left. That’s quite a bit more than anyone would bid to have lunch with me. I am fairly sure a lunch with me would fetch, at most, four dollars. And that’s if I’m paying the bill.

This “Power Lunch with Warren Buffett” benefits Glide, “an organization that offers free meals, health care and other services to homeless and low-income people in San Francisco,” the Journal’s Nicole Friedman reported this week. Glide was a favorite charity of Mr. Buffett’s first wife, the late Susie Buffett, and over the years, Power Lunches with Warren have raised close to $30 million.

This sounds like a genuinely good act, for a good cause.

Still, I have questions. Chiefly: how the heck is a $3.5 million lunch with Warren Buffett supposed to go?


What if Warren talks about the weather in Omaha for 45 minutes?

Do you start with small talk, or is that risky? Say you begin with a polite icebreaker, something harmless. You ask Warren about the weather in Omaha. What if Warren talks about the weather in Omaha for 45 minutes? Omaha had a big hailstorm the other day. What if Mr. Buffett is really excited to talk about the hailstorm—he’s going on about cumulonimbus clouds and unstable air masses—and you look up at the clock, and you’re almost out of time?

Am I supposed to interrupt Warren Buffett? I’m not interrupting Warren Buffett! Are you crazy?

It’s at a steakhouse. Smith & Wollensky, in New York City. Nice place. The winner can bring up to seven friends. I bet you can really go to town for $3.5 million. I bet everyone can get the 26 oz. prime rib, plus the onion rings. I bet you can swing that for three-point-five.

Still, I’m not bringing my idiot friends. I love my friends, but the idea of spending $3.5 million and looking over at my college roommate, Josh, bending Warren Buffett’s ear about the Knicks, while I’m paying for this whole thing? Let’s just say it would bug me.

What if I brought a friend like Journal tech columnist Joanna Stern to the lunch, and Warren spends the entire time trying to get Joanna to fix his iPad? I would be steamed.

So Josh can stay at home. Same with Joanna. Sorry, I adore you both, but you’re not cutting into my Warren Buffett time.

I think I prefer the lunch to be one-on-one. I want Mr. Buffett’s ear. After all, this lunch isn’t just expensive—it can be life-changing. A guy who successfully bid on it twice, Ted Weschler, got offered a job by Mr. Buffett. Ted now works for

Berkshire Hathaway
.

I bet he thinks those lunches were worth every penny, even without the onion rings.

The thing is, I don’t have anything to offer Mr. Buffett. Ted Weschler worked in finance. I write a daffy column in The Wall Street Journal that ends up lining hamster cages around the nation. Do you think the Wizard of Omaha is hiring me? Not a chance. So that scenario is out.

Then what? I guess I could talk to Mr. Buffett about my children. One’s into dinosaurs, the other’s into dragons. Big whoop. I got some new pants the other day. Maybe I could talk to Warren about the pants.

I know what’s going to happen. Warren’s going look me straight in the eye, and say “Check, please.”

Here’s the truth: I need a preliminary lunch with Warren Buffett to figure out what I’m going to talk about at my real lunch with Warren Buffett. That means two lunches. That’s going to run me $3.5 million times two, which I believe is $7 million. See, I can do math. Maybe Mr. Buffett will hire me after all.

Write to Jason Gay at Jason.Gay@wsj.com

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