“To me, Ben Graham was far more than an author or a teacher”, writes Warren Buffett in the preface to the 1973 edition of The Intelligent Investor, “More than any other man except my father, he influenced my life.”
In a remembrance of Graham (1894-1976) published in the Financial Analysts Journal, Buffett wrote, “A remarkable aspect of Ben’s dominance of his professional field was that he achieved it without that narrowness of mental activity that concentrates all effort on a single end.”
I received my copy of The Intelligent Investor as a Christmas gift back in 1997 from Dick and Debbie Young. At the time I was working at Fidelity Investments in Boston. On the weekends when I would visit Becky, rarely did investments dominate a conversation I would have with Dick.
Dick was always interested in hearing about the Rolling Stones concert I had gone to or telling me about a cool lobster pound in Trenton, ME they visited over the summer on their Harley’s. It wasn’t all investments all the time.
Dick’s interest in so many fields, or what he refers to as inference reading, helped form his investment ideas. His investment success is, much like Graham’s as described by Buffett, “[T]he incidental byproduct of an intellect whose breadth almost exceeded definition. Certainly I have never met anyone with a mind of similar scope.”
“But his third imperative—generosity—was where he succeeded beyond all others”, wrote Buffett of Graham. “I knew Ben as my teacher, my employer, and my friend. In each relationship—just as with all his students, employees and friends—there was an absolutely open-ended, no-scores-kept generosity of ideas, time, and spirit. If clarity of thinking was required, there was no better place to go.”
As I reread The Intelligent Investor over the weekend I was reminded of how lucky I am to be working with Dick Young. My investment approach is based on inference reading and taking from my life experiences—not from watching CNBC or a stock ticker 24/7. It’s about learning from everyone and everything around you. It’s what Dick Young continues to do. And a son-in-law couldn’t ask for a better teacher and friend.