Friday, January 09, 2015

Buffet, Batman & Scorecards (by David D'Souza)

Guest Post: David D'Souza

David is a freelance professional focussed on learning and talent management/development. We met at the last company I worked for just as my plot of diving into the social media pool was starting to percolate. David shares and exchanges ideas on Twitter (@dds180), his blog '101 half connected things', and has curated two books from the community of bloggers of which he is a part. He bubbles with curiosity and energy to be part of making things happen, listens incredibly well and asks great questions. I asked him if I could share the post he wrote yesterday on LinkedIn with you.


Warren Buffet, Batman and Scorecards
by David D'Souza

A few years ago I had the opportunity to see Alice Schroeder, who wrote the authoritative book on Warren Buffet, speak about the experience. In a strange opening Alice started off by saying 'The one thing everyone asks me when we meet is 'why did Warren choose you?

I have a feeling that is what Alice would like them to say... I'm actually pretty sure they all actually ask 'What's Warren Buffet like?'

Two pieces of wisdom from Warren Buffet stuck with me from that day. The first was that 'in the short term the market is a popularity contest, in the long term it is a weighing mechanism'. Given the focus we have on short term gain it was an interesting reflection, the true test and value is always in the long game.

The second was about scorecards. The quote was along the lines of 'better to be smart and rich and have everyone think you are an idiot, than be poor and stupid and have everyone think you are a genius'. It highlights the importance of an internal scorecard - it is more important to be secure in how you are in the world than focused on how the world sees you.

Now onto Batman...

My two favourite portrayals of Batman are Adam West (Kapow!) and then the Tim Burton films starring Michael Keaton. Keaton did a wonderful job of making Bruce Wayne seem like a secret identity, playing the character as a complex individual who only really had a place in the world when inhabiting the suit. Being a billionaire was far more awkward.

Michael Keaton stars in an upcoming film called Birdman about a down on his luck actor defined by a previous role as a superhero now making a comeback. The press have, obviously, written a number of pieces on how this is a much needed career resurgence for Keaton whose career nosedived after Batman Returns. Except it didn't. Keaton just chosen when and where he wanted to work and lived a happy life.

Keaton wasn't a washed up star. He wasn't a huge star before Batman and he wasn't afterwards - it would be fair to say that Beetlejuice was his box office peak (Batman aside) and that happened to him before donning the cape. What Keaton was in his post-Batman guise was a committed family man who didn't crave the career for himself that others expected. He did enough work to tide himself over and enjoyed his life. That is a less dramatic narrative, one that is less commanding of headlines, but one that is true.

The decision to choose to do other things instead of make money runs counter to the notion of how a successful career is often defined. Simply because success is defined all to narrowly, all too often.

There was a lovely quote from Ed Norton about his experience working with Keaton on Birdman, he said "His life is much bigger than his career".

Contributing articles to fly fishing magazines, going on safari with his son, hanging out in Montana - these are some of the things Keaton lists when having to explain to people how he coped with being failed and washed up. Except that sounds very much like a life well lived. 

A recent quote from Keaton chimes wonderfully with Buffet "Financially I could have done a whole lot better - and by the way I'm doing just fine. But that's the short game."

Choosing carefully what goes in your 'internal scorecard' is a good way of ensuring you define success for yourself, even when everyone else thinks that you are washed up. That's a good lesson for your career, but an invaluable lesson in life.

And a final piece of advice from Buffet - "I don't look for 7ft bars to jump over, I look around for a 1 ft bar I can step over".


In writing a blog about several topics in which I admit to being a complete beginner, I am going to have to rely heavily on the people I am writing for who cumulatively know most of what I am likely to learn already. I would love it if some of you found the time to write a guest post on the subject of happiness or learning. The framework I use for thinking about these things is what I call the '5 + 2 points' which includes proper (1) exercise, (2) breathing, (3) diet, (4) relaxation, (5) positive thinking & meditation, (+1) relationships, (+2) flow. Naturally if you would like to write about something that you think I have missed, I would love to include that too. If you are up to doing something more practical, it would be awesome if you did a 100 hour project and I am happy to do the writing based on our chats if that is how you roll. Email me at 
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