The Man Who Mentored Warren Buffett

And the lessons that were learned

Aaron Schnoor


Photo by Patrick Weissenberger on Unsplash

In the spring of 1951, a young student by the name of Warren Buffett entered a classroom at Columbia Business School. An avid reader, Buffett had spent many high school nights studying stocks, analyzing investments, and reading his favorite book — “The Intelligent Investor.”

Buffett must have been excited as he entered the classroom; Benjamin Graham, the author of “The Intelligent Investor,” was the one teaching the class at Columbia Business School.

In Buffett’s mind, Benjamin Graham was the greatest investor to ever live. As his roommate at the time later told biographer Alice Schroeder, “it was almost like he found a god.”

But why did Buffett admire Graham so much? What was it about Benjamin Graham that drew the young investor’s praise? And what did Graham teach Buffett that mattered so much?

To fully observe how Benjamin Graham mentored Warren Buffett, we must first understand Graham’s investment style.

The Founder of Value Investing

Today, Benjamin Graham is recognized as a pioneer of value investing — the process of buying stocks that appear to be undervalued in the market. In any exchange, Graham believed, the market would fail to capture the intrinsic worth of certain stocks. By using methods of fundamental analysis, a sharp investor could determine which stocks were undervalued and then exploit the discrepancy between price and value.

According to Graham, every stock goes on sale once or twice a year. Just as a consumer will wait to purchase a TV until it is on sale, a savvy investor should wait until stock is on “sale” to purchase it.

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? It doesn’t take a shrewd investor to remember that the purpose of investing is to buy low and sell high. But in the early twentieth century, Graham’s idea was revolutionary.

As Warren Buffett later remarked, “If I hadn’t read that book in 1949, I’d have had a different future.”

Buffett, like many other investors, has been shaped by Graham’s legacy. Although the billionaire can trace many lessons from Graham’s teaching, there are two lessons that Buffett has employed…