Warren Buffett is the fascination of millions of people all over the world, mostly because he is perceived as humble and approachable. A big teddy bear who, like Winnie the Pooh, is rolling in the honey.
Excuse me, money.
Just read a cool article by Lucy Jolin in Virgin.com’s Entrepreneur department, featuring one of Mr. Buffett’s beliefs that boring businesses are better than exciting ones.
What Is Boring?
Dull, monotonous, repetitive, unrelieved, unvaried, unimaginative, uneventful, characterless, featureless, colorless, lifeless, insipid, uninteresting, unexciting, uninspiring, unstimulating, uninvolving, unreadable, unwatchable, jejune, flat, bland, dry, stale, banal, lackluster, stodgy, vapid, monochrome, dreary, humdrum, mundane, mind-numbing, wearisome, tiring, tiresome, irksome, trying, and let’s not forget frustrating.
That’s just to start. My thesaurus ran outta gas at frustrating and limped back to my flat for a tequila.
Thrilling, exhilarating, action-packed, stirring, rousing, stimulating, intoxicating, electrifying, invigorating, gripping, compelling, powerful, and dramatic.
Even if we throw in a few more syns for exciting, boring still takes the checkered flag: Arousing, sexually arousing, sexually stimulating, titillating, erotic, sexual, sexxxxxy, raunchy, steamy, temptacious.
Funny irony: there’re more synonyms for boring than exciting, and it’s rooted in our “boring, old, white dude at the helm” culture.
Old, White Dudes Have Designed a Culture of Boring
It’s not their fault, even though I know it is possible to change behaviors when you want to.
Mom and dad were probably just as boring. The further back you descend on the DNA ladder, it gets more pronounced. Those dudes didn’t have a nanosecond of “exciting” in their lives except when mom gave birth to a boring, old, white dude, so how can possibly blame them?
History proves my point, offensive as it is to some (probably boring, old, white dudes).
Warren Buffett’s Powerhouse PR Machine
Mr. Buffett’s PR machine is forever generating provocative ideas for those who will never have access to his resources, a seductive proposition that can never be fulfilled. A lifetime of chasing a carrot on a very long stick. You need bino’s just to spy the carrot, which must be infused with preservatives to endure many lifetimes.
Warren Buffett is in a league all to himself and he knows it.
The Harsh Reality of Success and Failure
Businesses today succeed or fail not because they’re boring or exciting. They succeed in the short term by luck, networking, and good business practices. In the long run, by employing good business tactics and strategies, good management, having capable and loyal employees, and more good luck.
They fail more often than not by sheer ignorance and laziness. And bad luck.
Buffett Is About Buying Buying Buying
The Virgin.com article says, “And it’s not just the famous boring brands that are pulling in the profits, either. You’ve probably never heard of Victoria plc. This UK company designs, manufactures and distributes flooring products. It’s not exactly sexy. But this ‘boring’ company has seen its shares rise by 635 percent over the last five years, using a tried-and-tested acquisitions business model of buying small companies, then ploughing profits back into buying more.”
Buying small companies and ploughing profits back into buying more IS boring. Nothing exciting there, unless you like counting all that money.
In the Buffett Model of Boring, where’s the creativity? Inspiration? How does that contribute to the well-being of employees, of the worldwide public?
Mr. Buffett is a very financially wealthy man, but his life model is built around acquiring the creativity and inspiration of those who truly have exciting lives and businesses. Boring people must surround themselves with exciting people to survive. And make a whole lotta money.
Truth? Segway Was Nothing But Fun to Design and Develop!
The article states further: “Remember Segway, which was going to render the car obsolete? Or Netscape, which lost the ‘browser wars’? Both seemed like sure things at the time—but both lasted less than a decade.”
My response: Dean Kamen is an otherworldly genius. I met him in New Hampshire a few years ago with my Dad on an exciting Dad-Daughter journey. Mr. Kamen’s Segway did not fail because he was exciting. He did not succeed because he wasn’t boring. I’ll not analyze how and why Segway failed, but will share this, based on our chat: his idea simply didn’t catch on because of price, transportability, accessibility, government regulation and interference, etc.
Mr. Kamen had the time of this life developing Segway and sharing it as he did. Exciting, never boring.
About Netscape: did you like it? I hated the look and feel. Couldn’t wait for my MacBook Pro and Safari to be born.
Life Is Exciting!
Putting one business in the boring box and calling it a model for success, and putting an exciting business in another box and calling it a model of failure is just divisive. And wholly inaccurate as advice and practice in the exciting world of business.
But, then again, Mr. Buffett and his PR machine can get away with being outrageous—no, make that a really really boring iteration of outrageous.
Our brains and bodies thrive on exciting. They whither and die on a daily regimen of boring.
My new metonym for boring: Warren Buffett.
MEET YOUR AUTHOR
Tripsy South is the author of the novel WTF, Dorkus! Schoolin’ My Shrink On Teen Suicide. Trained in physics at a cool surfer university, she lives and plays in Los Angeles where she’s a freelance writer and editor.