NEW YORK (Reuters) - The son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett has an old-world spiritual message for today’s money-rich parents: teach your children values and do not give them everything they want.
Musician and now author Peter Buffett preaches the message in his new book “Life is What You Make it: Finding Your Own Path to Fulfillment”. Recently released in the United States, it describes how he wound up a “normal, happy” person instead of a spoiled child to one of the world’s richest people.
Buffett, 52, teaches the rewards of self-respect and pursuing one’s own passions and accomplishments rather than buying into society’s concepts of material wealth.
“I am my own person and I know what I have accomplished in my life,” he said. “This isn’t about wealth or fame or money or any of that stuff, it is actually about values and what you enjoy and finding something you love doing.”
People who are born with a silver spoon in their mouth can fall victim to what Buffett said his father has called a “silver dagger in your back,” which leads to a sense of entitlement and a lack of personal achievement.
“Entitlement is the worst thing ever and I see entitlement coming in many guises,” he said. “Anybody who acts like they deserve something ‘just because,’, is a disaster.”
But Buffett wasn’t always this wise. His own family gave him $90,000 in stock when he was 19, a small sum from such immense financial wealth. After studying at Stanford University, he moved to San Francisco and lived in a studio apartment with just enough room for his musical instruments.
“I was really searching,” he said, adding that he began his musical career by working for free writing music for a local television station.
“I was kind of lost, but trying to find myself. It was definitely this strange period where I didn’t really know where I was going,” he said.
As well his musical passions, the values taught to him growing up and a sense of a bigger picture in life stayed with him during those trying times, he said.
“I was not only not handed everything as a kid, I was shown that there are lots of other people out there with very different circumstances,” he said.
Although many people he encounters assume that his father wanted him to go into finance, he said his father accepted his choice to become a musician beginning with commercials then his own albums and composing for television shows and films.
“It was encouraged for a moment when I was open to the idea,” he said about pursuing finance. But he added that as he grew older, it became clear the financial world “was not speaking to my heart.”
Along with the book, Buffett has embarked on a “Concert & Conversation” tour in which he plays the piano, talks about his life and warns against consumerist culture and damaging the environment.
He said he eventually inherited more money after his mother died in 2004, but by then he had learned his lessons. Now he works on giving back to the world — another of his life philosophies — which includes through working for his father’s NoVo charitable foundation.
“Economic prosperity may come and go; that’s just how it is,” he writes in the book. “But values are the steady currency that earn us the all-important rewards.”
editing by Bob Tourtellotte