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15.06.2023 More New Grad Insights and Inspiration from Warren Buffett, in INC. Magazine

15.06.2023 More New Grad Insights and Inspiration from Warren Buffett, in INC. Magazine
Dear Students,
Here’s some more new-grad wisdom shared by 92-year-old Warren Buffett (with a 2023 net worth of nearly $118B, according to Forbes), as Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, to springboard off of yesterday’s article about former President Barack Obama.
In response to a humble teenager’s 2004 request for advice “to a young person aiming for success,” Buffett offered an unexpected answer:
It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.”
Now, as an ambitious international student, what does it really mean to “hang out with people better than you?” And how vague to “drift in the direction” of “associates whose behavior is better than yours?” What’s more, what does “better” mean in this context?
Buffett essentially encourages candidates like you to consciously and intentionally spend time around people who not only live the values, and work in the roles you admire and aspire to, but to do so especially with those who are further along in achieving the global career heights you hope to attain. While the “table stakes” competencies required for such opportunities include communication skills, analytical thinking, initiative, cross-cultural awareness etc., other abilities that new grads like you can hone from time spent with successful global leaders may be more nuanced, and less-easily taught in a formal sense, such as collaborating effectively with challenging co-workers, operating productively within a diverse, multi-generational workforce, identifying ways to support technical and non-technical colleagues in “speaking the same language,” etc.
Our professional coaches have learned that who we spend time with greatly influences who we become, including the ideas we consider, the objectives we pursue, the actions we take, the thoughts we think and how purposefully we work toward challenging, ambitious goals. To grow and achieve your professional aims, we’ve seen that even ambitious international students like you need to “become comfortable being uncomfortable,” for example, by choosing to hang out with successful Westerners rather than your academic circle of Chinese friends.
Such openness to new people, and the related exposure to unfamiliar ideas, behaviors and ways of thinking is necessary to grow and reach new professional (and personal) peaks. As the world’s leading executive coach Marshall Goldsmith proclaimed in the title of his 2013 book, “What got you here won’t get you there.” If young, rising professionals like you want to reach the pinnacle of global professional success you see around you, you will need to take an upward leap – leveling up to commit to spending time with, and learning from, those who embody what you want, as unfamiliar as this may seem.