Warren and Jimmy

Here's what happens when major news breaks at 1 a.m. and I don't hear until the next morning. But also, a quiz. Plus 7 other things that are worth your time. And finally, the answers to the quiz.

BREAKING: News broke overnight that President Trump and the First Lady both tested positive for Covid-19, and have begun a two-week quarantine. (Associated Press)

There’s no end to the potential ramifications of this, from the fact that the president presumably wouldn’t be able to leave the White House to campaign for 14 days, to the question of whether the next debate will go forward, to others in government wondering if they’ve been exposed.

The president announced the positive tests in a tweet at about 1 a.m. Eastern.


I now return you to the completely, 100% unrelated newsletter I wrote yesterday…

It’s Friday. I don’t know about you but I could use something light and fun. How about a quiz?

It comes to mind as a result of the news (WSJ, $) that the last “Cheeseburger in Paradise” restaurant closed. It was in Secaucus, N.J., which ironically is actually just about the opposite of paradise (although, not all that far from where I live).

Obviously, I feel for all the people who will lose jobs as a result, and I hope they’ll all land their feet. But to be honest, a chain restaurant named for a Jimmy Buffett song wasn’t likely to be among my first forays back into dining out, post-Covid (whenever that is).

It did get me thinking about Jimmy Buffett, however — and something I worked on a while back.

This was after I realized that Jimmy and Warren Buffett are long-time friends, and that Warren has been a financial adviser and mentor to Jimmy, and that they even they call each other “Uncle Warren” and “Cousin Jimmy,” although they ultimately took a DNA test to prove they’re not related.

  • Warren: net worth of $80.5 billion. Fourth-richest person on the planet.

  • Jimmy: net worth of $550 million, as of a few years ago. Much less than Warren, I grant you, but still a lot of money—enough to make him one of the wealthiest musicians in history. (He sold his interest in the restaurant chain eight years ago, by the way.)

Apropos of nothing, here’s Jimmy Buffett playing and singing in Omaha while a group of business students visited Warren Buffett. You’d have to fast-forward to the 3-minute mark to see them both together.

Both Buffetts are also highly quotable, and as my wife once pointed out, they're more similar than you might think. In fact, there are times when I'll bet you can't tell which Buffett offered which words of wisdom.

So that’s the quiz. Here are 17 quotes from the Oracle of Omaha and the Prince of the Parrotheads. Can you guess which Buffett said what without looking?

(As a structural note I went back and forth on how to format this. The answer I came up with isn’t perfect, but I have the quotes below, and the answers are all at the very bottom of the email. Let me know how that works.)

  1. “Be a good reader, because then you don't have to be a conversationalist to be knowledgeable.”

  2. “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who's been swimming naked.”

  3. “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

  4. “I always knew I was going to be rich. I don't think I ever doubted it for a minute.”

  5. “I remember the excruciating school task of writing a three-page term paper. But, oh, that feeling when I was done! I think I drive myself for that feeling of accomplishment.”

  6. “I hate to mention age, but I come from an era when we weren't consumed by technology and television. My mother insisted that her children read. To describe my scarce leisure time in today's terms, I always default to reading.”

  7. “Any attempts at autobiography before the age of eighty seem pretty self-involved to me. There are a lot of smart middle aged people but not many wise ones.”

  8. “What we learn from history is that people don't learn from history.”

  9. “I tell college students, when you get to be my age you will be successful if the people who you hope to have love you, do love you.”

  10. “If you don't find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die.”

  11. “You only have to do a very few things right in your life so long as you don't do too many things wrong.”

  12. “The big question about how people behave is whether they've got an Inner Scorecard or an Outer Scorecard. It helps if you can be satisfied with an Inner Scorecard.”

  13. “Humor has bailed me out of more tight situations than I can think of. If you go with your instincts and keep your humor, creativity follows. With luck, success comes, too.”

  14. “If life gives you limes, make margaritas.”

  15. “People who think too much before they act don't act too much.”

  16. “Quitting doesn't enter my mind.”

  17. “Management in place. Find a good business that makes sense, and make sure there are good people running it.”

Scroll all the way down to see the answers…

7 other things worth your time

  • Monica Lewinsky wrote an article for Vanity Fair calling for something I think makes a ton of sense in light of our current challenges: a national mental health czar. Actually, it turns out there is one: the assistant secretary of health and human services for mental health and substance use. But she doesn’t exactly get a lot of press, as-is. (Vanity Fair)

  • A survey of 1,500 U.S. consumers says Americans want a “more meaningful” Christmas and holiday season this year, given the drama we’ve all been through. (CNBC)

  • The Army thinks they have a new plan and advice for soldiers: strategic napping. “Way ahead of you, sir/ma’am,” said every soldier in history. (NYT, $)

  • Google said it will pay publishers around $1 billion for news over the next three years. By the way, Google, I’m at bill@understandably.com. (CNBC)

  • Striking: Duty-related exposure to Covid-19 has killed more law enforcement officers during 2020 than all other causes of death combined. (The Washington Post)

  • The Philippines is experiencing an “epidemic” of unintended pregnancies as a result of the lockdown, with the total number of women expected to give birth up 42 percent over a year ago. (Vice)

  • Still have an iPod Nano? It’s officially obsolete as of yesterday. (Confession: I still have one.) (MacRumors)

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Photo/drawing credit: Creative commons license. Wild that they used to include “no cameras” on tickets, right? As mentioned, I used some of this on Inc.com a while back. If you liked this post, and you’re not yet a subscriber, please sign up for the daily Understandably.com email newsletter, with thousands and thousands of 5-star ratings from happy readers. You can also just send an email to signup@understandably.com. And now, you can also get it by text at (718) 866-1753.

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And the Buffett quote quiz answers…

  1. Jimmy. This was his answer when asked, “What’s the one skill every man should have?” in a 2013 interview.

  2. Warren. Famous quote, so famous in fact that I can’t find the first time he said it.

  3. Warren, even though it sounds more like Confucius. One thing that became clear in compiling these is how many quotes are just on there on the Internet, attributed to people, but with no context for when they supposedly said them.

  4. Warren. But again, good luck finding the original context.

  5. Jimmy. From a 1998 interview accompanying the release of his book, A Pirate at 50. (Fun fact, he’ll turn 74 on Christmas Day this year.)

  6. Jimmy. I think this originated in the same book.

  7. Jimmy. From a NYT op-ed he wrote. Also originated with his book.

  8. Warren. He’s said versions of this many times.

  9. Warren. From the 2003 Berkshire annual meeting.

  10. Warren. Is it fair for me to use something he’s said versions of so many times that he probably mumbles it in his sleep (while making money, of course)?

  11. Warren. Ditto.

  12. Warren. Of all the ones on this list that are attributed to Warren, I think this is the one I might have been most likely to get wrong and attribute to Jimmy.

  13. Jimmy. I’m quite sure of it, but it’s Jimmy’s turn to have a quote where I can’t find the original citation, just 1,000 lists of quotes and the like saying he said it.

  14. Warren. No, I'm kidding. It's Jimmy.

  15. Jimmy. Is this a song lyric though? Maybe someone smarter (or more into Jimmy Buffett) than I am can find the original.

  16. Jimmy. Amazingly, this goes right back to that same 1998 book interview. I didn’t know that when I started compiling the list.

  17. Warren. But this last one is a bit of a trick, because he's being quoted by Jimmy here—describing the advice that Warren gave him when he was "growing the Margaritaville empire."