So, many of you are wondering what the hell I was doing in Omaha, NE a few weekends ago. And a few of you I told exactly what I was doing and you’re still wondering what the hell I did in Omaha. Well, despite it being on the same weekend as Derby, an event I’ve only missed one other time in eleven years (and that year I couldn’t justify making the weekend trip back from China), I mustered up all the love I had in my heart for Frank, and decided to accompany him on his pilgrimage to see the Oracle of Omaha, at the Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder meeting.
So, off we went, to the land of…… well, I’m still not sure what Omaha is the land of…. corn maybe?I guess it’s safe to say it’s the land of Warren Buffett. So off we went, to the land of Warren Buffett.
I missed this ↓ for corn and Warren.
First stop, the Deco hotel, in downtown Omaha. Frank and I convinced my brother, Patt to forgo the festivities in Kentucky for an equally as exciting weekend of investment Q and A. He was a little easier to convince than I was, but both being Berkshire shareholders, we were proud to be part of this cult-like weekend (the first of two in a row as it turns out – more on that later). I wore my “credentials” with pride.
Next stop lunch, then Borsheims, a jewelry store owned by Berkshire. Riding 6 deep in a regular sized taxi, driven by a man who’d been driving for less than a week, and who’d switched careers to become a taxi driver after his car got stolen and his buddy told him the cab companies let you keep the car 24/7, we got a quick tour of Omaha’s rush hour. Although I’m not currently in the market for fine jewelry, Borsheims was definitely a spectacle. The store was huge, packed with fine jewels, watches, and Berkshire shareholders hungry for that “shareholder discount.” The “Crazy Warren Prices” didn’t start til Sunday, so sadly we missed out on that….. But I did try on a $1,000,000 diamond ring. Yep, that’s 6 zeros. It was super huge and sparkly, but loud and flashy jewelry ain’t my style, so I decided not to buy it.
After a drink, we headed to Piccalo Pete’s steakhouse, Warren’s favorite restaurant in town. A mirrorball was the main decorative attraction in the dining room. ’nuff said. I’d heard all about this place from Jeff, Frank’s co-worker, and Jeff’s wife, and my expectations were low. But I’d also taken their reviews with a grain of salt considering they’re the fine-dining type, not the big greasy steak-type. I’d been told I had to order Warren’s favorite: steak and a root beer float, which I did. And besides the deep fried app plater which consisted of fried mozzarella, fried mushrooms, fried pickles, fried jalapeños and fried ravioli (all clearly from a freezer bag), the steak and hash browns were quite tasty. Frank used a whole bottle of A1. No kiddin.
There were 20 in our party, and I swear it felt like I was sitting at a table full of young, up and coming (or some that are already there) investment all-stars. Have I mentioned how incredibly smart my boyfriend is? If you don’t believe me, ask him… ha. Just kiddin. But the highlight of the night was talking to Doris Buffet, who sat beside me for the later part of the meal. She’s a fun, lively old woman in her eighties, with all kinds of energy and a vibrant laugh. We talked about teaching and places we’ve lived. I kept thinking how nice and refreshing it is to sit and talk to a “grandma” who is warm and loving. It reminded me of when my warm and loving grandma was still around, Anyway, I really liked Doris, and liked her even more when Alex, Frank’s boss and Doris’ grandson, told me later that she asked “Who is that girl with Frank? She’s gorgeous.”
Did ya hear that Frank!? : )
Next day, the boys rose at 5:30 to meet Alex at the Hilton (where all the really important people were staying) at 6am. Apparently it’s a mad-dash into the arena when they open the doors at 7am. They showed the video of the rush later and it looked mad to me! But thanks to the guys for running and snagging enough spots for our whole party.
The meeting started with a movie. All kinds of cameos. After an hour of cartoon parody, Coca-Cola and Geico commercials, and old Berkshire meeting footage from the 70’s an 80’s, the Master’s came out and the meeting began. I was amazed. A huge arena full of eager eyes, all focused on the two men on stage: Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger. I have to say, the chemistry between the two, who’ve been working together for decades, is not only humorous but adorable. Both men in their eighties (Munger in his late-eighties), are as sharp as they come. I immediately fell in love with Munger, with his huge glasses that make him look like a bug and his quick, seemingly unfinished responses: “I think that’s idiotic,” or his famed “I have nothing to add”, to name a few. How could you not just sit there, waiting for his next strike of wit? Apparently he’s known for his often off-putting and to-the-point responses. Don’t waste his time!
From 7:30 til 4:00 we sat and listened, with a short break to the conference room where Berkshire products from Ginsu knives to Justin boot to See’s candy to modular homes were available at discounted prices for shareholders. I’d read about the “limited edition” Brooks running shoes so I made a beeline for those. Besides the sneakers, which Frank and I both bought, we got two boxes of peanut brittle. I ate so much that day I made myself sick. I never want peanut brittle again.
When the meeting was over, back to the Hilton for a drink, just in time to catch the Derby race! It felt funny not being there, almost like it wasn’t happening because I wasn’t there… But despite how I felt, the world doesn’t revolve around me, and the race went on…. My pick, Daddy Long Legs couldn’t quite pull it off : /
Japanese was planned for dinner, and was better than my expectation of Omaha sushi, although I only got a veggie roll and a spider roll, so that doesn’t really count as sushi…. We celebrated Derby with a round of Mint Juleps, and ended the night a few hours later with a couple a buckets of beer at a dueling piano bar.
Nothing eventful on Sunday except a looong day of traveling back home to Boston. Overall, a fun and successful weekend. Will I go back next year when the meeting, once again, conflicts with Derby? I’m not sure. But I’m really glad I experienced the madness.
Thanks Frank for opening up this world to me.
Sorry bout the lack of photos. Remember, Frank’s a scrooge when it comes to taking pictures.