Berskhire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett is the most admired investor in America. His folksy style and plainspoken candor have been big factors in his success--Buffett not only levels with those he's talking to, he levels with himself. It's not soul-searching, but simple fact-checking. On CNBC Thursday Buffett noted that some of the current facts on his balance sheet aren't as he'd like them to be. "I made a mistake on Tesco," the Sage of Omaha admitted. "That was a huge mistake by me."
That's a master class in owning up and leaving the equivocating to lesser men. There's no ambiguity. Who was the mistake by? "By me." Who made a mistake on Tesco? "I made a mistake on Tesco." PR people tell leaders to do this all the time--but few can stomach it. Another person says let's wait and see if it'll turn around, or some such. Not Buffett. He may have lost as much as $700 million on the big British supermarket chain, which allegedly overstated earnings by almost half a billion dollars, but Buffett comes straight out and tells you Tesco shouldn't have been on his shopping list in the first place. Sometimes even a sage doesn't see the future. But only a fool ignores the facts on the ground--or at the supermarket.
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