As I have pretty much settled into this internship, I felt that there isn’t much left that I haven’t covered either in previous blogs or blogs from last year. So for this one, I have decided to reflect on lessons I picked up from business leaders that I have read about on the job. I am a pretty big reader, so during this internship I thought it would be a good idea to couple my experience on the job along with literature about successful businessmen. So far, two biographies stood out — Ron Chernow’s Titan about the life of John D. Rockefeller, and Roger Lowenstein’s Buffett.
Both biographies about Rockefeller and Buffett reminded me of something business author Seth Godin once said, that there are two types of businessmen: managers and leaders. Rockefeller and Buffett definitely fell into the first category, in that both these men are shown to be exceptional managers. Obviously Rockefeller was a phenomenal manager, since his company, Standard Oil, once controlled 90 percent of the oil in the United States. He also bought other oil companies into Standard Oil, and Rockefeller’s ability in dealing with their presidents and his confidence in delegating responsibilities into his lieutenants added to his reputation for organizational genius. Similarity, Buffett is, of course, an organizational genius himself; his company, Berkshire Hathaway, is currently number three on the Fortune 500 list, and Buffett credited it to his company’s efficient, low-cost organization.
Looking at my real-estate internship, I can see that this is a manager-oriented job as well: You only have about 50 units of properties, and it’s your job to make the most out of them. Looking back on the life of Rockefeller, Buffett, and even advice from my mentor, I decided that there is only one important trait for this type of business: frugality. Rockefeller had it, Buffett has it, and my mentor has it too. The key lesson is to save when you can, invest when its cheap, and — as Rockefeller would remind us — to give all you can.