After decades of investing successes, self-promotion, and high-profile charitable giveaways, it's no wonder that Warren Buffett is still a financial household name. His firm, Berkshire Hathaway, is worth hundreds of billions of dollars, and you can still buy his books in airport bookstores all over. His secret to success is simple, in the long run — at least, so says Buffett.
It's not just that the Oracle of Omaha makes his home in the Midwest. Financial services company the Motley Fool looked at three characteristics Buffett has talked up over the years. Surprisingly (and for most of us, a relief), none of them are about intelligence, quantitative skills, or education. None of them are about being a shark either — in fact, research has shown that aggression and ruthlessness are both tickets to smaller earnings or even losses. Instead, Buffett focuses on personality.
Despite the economic and financial rollercoaster of the past decade, Buffett advises cultivating optimism. Specifically, he means "realistic optimism," which means the difference between believing you'll succeed and believing you'll succeed easily. Next, the Motley Fool suggests examining your temperament. The stock market can be quite the ride even on the best days, so make sure you have ways of managing stress, whether it's excitement or anxiety.
Finally, practice patience. That is more likely to come with experience, but knowing the game can help you play with a steadier hand. Sometimes this means reframing how you experience investing — for instance, trading apps can gamify your stress, making you more prone to impetuous decisions. Patience also means looking at even bad news about the market as an opportunity to come.
Of course, maybe you're a skeptic at heart, which is fair enough. One other thing about Warren Buffett may surprise you: He loves playing ukulele. And if investing ever gets you down too much, there's always fun in music.