Warren Buffett’s enormous wealth is only matched by his incredibly valuable wisdom. So when the Oracle of Omaha says he has a simple rule to improve your life financially and personally, you should pay attention.
In a lecture to USC Business School students, Warren Buffett’s right-hand man, Charlie Munger, revealed a strategy that Buffett has used time and again to build success.
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Warren Buffet preaches that he could:
“Improve your ultimate financial welfare by giving you a ticket with only 20 slots in it so that you had 20 punches — representing all the investments that you got to make in a lifetime.”
Once you punched through the card, you couldn’t make any more investments at all
Buffett said that, “under those rules, you’d really think carefully about what you did and you’d be forced to load up on what you’d really thought about. So you’d do so much better.”
In a nutshell: We’re tempted to take advantage of every opportunity possible (especially when it comes to money), but our opportunities are actually incredibly finite. As I’ll explain, by narrowing down these opportunities beforehand, you can focus on the successful ones with your limited resources, instead of jumping at every opportunity that presents itself.
This ’20-Slot-Rule’ is a concept that doesn’t just speak to making smart investments, however. It also applies to all areas of life and business that require our decisions to be well informed and incredibly selective.
Without further ado, here are some simple tips for following Buffett’s ’20-Slot Rule’ to improve your life:
Use the rule to find your true motivation
Warren Buffett may be the savviest investor on earth, but even he knows there are certain tasks beyond his realm. In 2013, he told talk show host Piers Morgan that he has sent exactly one email in his entire life, and the Berkshire Hathaway website itself makes Myspace.com look like the internet’s Mona Lisa.
Does the Oracle of Omaha have the intelligence that it would take to learn how to update the web page and turn it into something snazzier? Of course. Is it worth his time? Definitely not.
If you have a finite amount of skills, goals, or business opportunities you can cash in on within your life, that means being incredibly choosy.
So focus on what you do best — your Genius Zone. If you don’t have that yet, spend some time figuring out what you bring to the table better than anyone else. It’s worth the investment to find what you do effortlessly and gravitate towards.
Use the rule to make yourself wealthier
Unlike Buffett, our wealth is relatively limited. But when you start thinking of your wealth in terms of “slots,” you can direct it towards what really matters and stretch it a lot further. For instance, is your excess budget being punched in the “$4 latte” slot every day, or towards a future business or investment account?
The truly wealthy, like Buffett, got that way because they’re able to think about each dollar and investment carefully through a long-term lens. They know that investing in future endeavors is the ultimate luxury in life, and they’re able to see the long-term value of each dollar in their wallet (or purse).
You don’t have to live the frugal life of a monk, but the next time you get a tax return or have some extra money because you just got a raise, carefully consider which “slot” to use.
Use the rule to become incredibly productive
Buffett’s rule refers to much more than our money — for instance, one of the most frequently used phrases in job listings is “multitask.” It’s something most of us (including yours truly) wind up doing during a hectic workday.
But it’s been scientifically proven that doing a million things at once trains our brain to become easily distracted, and it even takes up to four times longer to process new information that way.
Instead, you should treat your task list like a punch card. Realize you can only take on X number of tasks every day, and think carefully about which ones you want to give your full, laser-focused attention to. By prioritizing, you’ll have intense focus on each project rather than sloppily attempting to tackle everything at once.
When you have a clear motivation, how you work and why you work will drastically transform, and — most importantly — you’ll feel happy and passionate about what you do.
Elle Kaplan is the Founder and CEO of LexION Capital, a fiduciary wealth management firm in New York City serving high-net-worth individuals. She is also the Chief Investment Officer and Portfolio Manager at LexION Alpha, her systematic hedge fund that will soon be open to new investments. It is one of the only women-owned and -run hedge funds in the nation.