If you peer into this letter, you’ll know definitively that it was written by him. (The dead giveaway is the first-person prose throughout the writing.)
I’m a great admirer of Buffet for this reason: he communicates in a manner that is unassuming, absolutely straight-up, and honest. Whenever you read his letters or listen to him in interviews, you’ll always notice his down-to-earth, direct tone of voice.
Buffet of course is deeply passionate about what he does in running a very large business conglomerate. He’s proud of the successes of the many companies owned or invested by Berkshire Hathaway (such as Geico, Apple, and Coca-Cola).
A key part of Berkshire’s success is Buffet connecting to their shareholders. And when he does, he feels the need to communicate through his own words to convey his assessments, inner feelings, and points of view.
And that’s the very reason why Buffet writes his own letter every year.
Valuing good written communications
I really feel businesses, corporations, executives, and all working professionals can do more to appreciate the ability to communicate through writing.
A lot more, in fact.
Writing is something far too often taken for granted. Everyone says they can easily write something if they wanted to, but they just don’t have the time.
That’s an excuse.
So what’s the quick solution when written communication is needed? Hire someone on Upwork or Fiverr to do the ghostwriting. Or, push the task on a lower-level worker.
Either way, you’re just hoping for the best, but in reality there’s a high likelihood of a disconnect between what is produced and what was expected.
Warren Buffet is a billionaire. He can find the the time to write his own stuff. So can Bill Gates and many other luminaries. (Buffett has said he’ll spend many months throughout the year, writing and refining his drafts in stages.)
Good writing is simple, honest articulation of thoughts and statements. It usually comes from people that really know what they’re talking about and have a deep affinity at the same time.
Farming essential writing out to someone else is very often a cop-out. Unfortunately, I’m seeing this more nowadays with even entry to mid-level marketers who think they’re too overloaded to sit down and write something that speaks to the essential value proposition necessary to promote their products.
Or worse, that writing is something “beneath” their position within the company.
The answer of course is to turn to freelancers. That may adequately do the job in the short term, but it does nothing to build your own personal confidence. Or for that matter, your own value proposition.
At higher levels of a company, using your authentic writing to reach out to your colleagues and customers can be incredibly rewarding. You’ll make them feel valued and connected. And over time, that will feed into a virtuous cycle of positive loyalty and trust.
So what can you do?
We all need to write content from time to time. And when you do, it’s always a great opportunity to be a little more conscientious in how you express yourself through words. Just doing that alone can help hone your instinct in writing to your audience.
You can take advantage of written communication opportunities within your company. For example, if you’re a product manager, you can be proactive in posting to your company’s message boards to explain a specific feature of a new product you’ve just launched. In doing so, your sales team will feel more engaged and better informed.
Another great opportunity is to contribute to your company’s blog. It’s a great way to reach out to your customers in a more direct, informal manner than your standard array of marketing collateral (datasheet, press release, etc.).
As you write more and more over time, you’ll find your confidence and natural instincts evolving.
Beyond your professional life, you can have a personal blog to talk about your interests, and get more writing experience at the same time. Or simply be a little more deliberate in what you’re saying when posting on social media, or writing an email.
That’s a great way to share your interests with others, while also giving yourself a chance to express yourself through words. Each time you do, you’ll gain a little more mastery in your natural ability to communicate, and bring it back to your professional life.