Who would you buy 10 percent of?

I’ve watched this fantastic Warren Buffet speech about 10 times, but have never tried this till now. He says:

Think for a moment I granted you the right to buy 10% of one of your classmates for the rest of his lifetime (and you can’t just pick someone with a rich father).  You’ve got to pick someone who’s going to do it on their own merit.

…and I gave you an hour to think about it.

…which one are you gonna pick?

He goes on to say you wouldn’t necessarily pick someone with the highest IQ or the highest grades etc. etc…. (watch the video if you want to hear what he has to say next).

This is a fantastic way to judge who amongst your friends or acquaintances you think will be the most successful.

I also have had a highly-favored saying (I have no idea where I first heard this) that goes:

“You are the sum total of the top 5 people you hang out with.”

So by my math, if you’re trying to become successful (in whatever field), it would make sense to hang out most with the top five people you would pick to own 10% of.

Try it right now in your head or on the sheet I’ve provided below…it’s kind of interesting :-)

To get you started, I’ve filled out your first choice already:

Enjoy :-)

Blog posted on: March 4, 2011

9 comments on “Who would you buy 10 percent of?

  1. Rachel


    Loving the blog as usual. I have a question for YOU — who in your social circle would you buy 10% of their lifetime earnings, and most importantly, why?

    Keep up the great work!

  2. Neville

    Hmmm….I think I already thought about this. I’d say:
    S, N, J, M, T (not gonna say real names) :-)

    Fortunately for me those are already people I hang out with a lot.

    The reason WHY is simple! …look at it like a stock:

    There are some stocks that are extremely stable and pay off dividends. These are people like doctors or high-level professionals (lawyers etc) that will no doubt make WONDERFUL livings during their lives.

    Those are pretty good and stable investments for their working lives.

    However if you’re looking for STELLAR GROWTH, you’d invest in what Peter Lynch called “10-Baggers”. He meant stocks that would at least multiply their value by 10 (or more). He would find these gems by visiting the companies, meeting their management, obsessing over their numbers, assessing the level of excitement from the employees etc.

    As for the ones I already listed, I personally know that all five will be people who in a few years people will say, “WHOA….you know those guys?!?”

  3. Paul

    whoa this was a really thought provoking question. I would have to say… B, J, N, E, W, D I hedged my bets by picking 2 friends in very stable but successful careers, and 3 others that shared a lot of similar entrepreneurial interests.

    Coming up with this list was actually pretty difficult, and unfortunately it made me realize that maybe I’m not hanging out with the right crowd. :/ Not sure how I feel about this yet. Thanks for ruining my friday Neville

  4. Ka

    Much like creating a diversified stock portfolio, maybe there’s also a place for the ones with stable convential careers. I’ve found that these individuals usually have their work processes streamlined to maximize their efficiency because they have to hit certain deadlines.

    People that are just starting out working for themselves(the ones destined for AMAZING things) are less likely to have their work structured efficiently because they don’t have anyone to report to.

    But, any uber-successfull entreprenuer will tell you that structured work is so important to acheiving their goals.

    As always, great work Nev. Always keeping us thinking.

    1. Neville Post author

      Most definitely. Most professionals (doctors, lawyers etc) are like stable stocks that put out dividends.

      Definitely place for them no doubt!

  5. Alex Barak


    It is somewhat a cold way to measure up your friends …. but nonetheless, this might change significantly over time … for example – had a friend who earned minimum wage, and now moved to be independent and founded a company for IT services and now making a decent amount of money …. so the main message here is do not be fixated – things are dynamic…

    1. Neville Post author

      Very true. A lot of my entrepreneur friends didn’t start out running like they are now.

      It would’ve been a hard call a few years ago to say they would’ve been uber-successful

  6. Manas Mudbari

    Its really true. Warren Buffet knows what he is talking about. I read few comments which says its a cold way to measure up the friends but in reality its true. Hangout with all the friends you’ve got but only work with select few to go on a business.


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