Julian Agostini: The Warren Buffett Formula

Julian Agostini (pictured below right), managing director of Access All Areas’ publisher Mash Media, discusses the difference between information and intelligence.

There goes a fable: someone asks Warren Buffett, ‘How did you get so smart?’ Buffett lifts up a stack of magazines, reports, papers and says, ‘I read 500 pages like this, every day. That’s how knowledge builds up, like compound intDSC_0018erest.’

As someone who works in the publishing industry, you can imagine just how delighted this makes me. I looked into it a little more and apparently Buffett, one of the world’s most wealthy people, makes a virtue of spending 80 per cent of his working day reading and thinking. I also like the phrase ‘compound interest’, implying that wide reading and the collection of information from multiple sources creates additional value in the form of knowledge.

We’ve been doing some deep thinking at Mash Media recently, trying to get to the heart of what we do, where we add value to the industry, and what this means to our customers and our readers. We often use the analogy that while reading a copy of the Financial Times once is helpful for snippets of information, reading it over the course of six months or longer has vastly greater impact, not just because of the information you acquire, but the knowledge you accumulate. Many leaders advise against confusing information and intelligence.

As event professionals, this train of thought shouldn’t surprise us. We’re in the knowledge gathering business. Every exhibition, every conference, every meeting and every live event that we produce or attend gives us an explosion of intelligence, served up in the form of gossip, casual chat, educational content and inspirational guidance.

Great events render us numb with information. We take in so much in such a short period of time that we feel exhausted as well as satisfied at the end of the experience. A great exhibition is one where we are learning at every point, be it on the stand, in the aisles, in the seminar rooms or in the bar afterwards.

Taking in this level of information and gaining this level of knowledge is hard work. It takes time out of your working day, requires you to attend events and to leave the office. How good are we at attributing a value to these endeavors?

Just like the FT example, we must believe that reading business magazines improves us as professionals over time. It certainly can’t make us worse. We have to believe that attending meetings, exhibitions and events enriches us every time. In another quote from Buffett he talks about e-mail and his dislike of it, saying, ‘I’m a one to one man’.

I believe that people who attend exhibitions and events become better at their jobs – and that people who read widely are the same. We’re not all going to end up like Warren Buffett, but it’s not difficult to understand that better decisions are made when we are more informed.

This is the essence of what we do as event professionals and what Mash Media does as publisher of business magazines for our industry. We gather knowledge, intelligence and inspiration together and serve it up in a way that is digestible and informative. In so doing, we give every professional a chance to become better at what they do, and in turn to grow the industry we serve.