Forty chances

buffettHoward G. Buffett and his son Howard W. Buffett spoke at the Foster School on November 5 about their recently published book, Forty Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World. The talk was moderated by Linda Nageotte, president and CEO of Food Lifeline. The premise of the book and the talk was that farmers typically have 40 crop seasons during their lives. Howard G. Buffett remarked that’s a short, finite period of time and there are no do overs. Therefore you need to focus and have a sense of urgency and be willing to take risks.

Howard G. Buffett is the son of investor and philanthropist, Warren Buffett, and he received $3 billion from his father in 2006 for his foundation, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. The foundation’s goal is to assist the one billion people on earth who lack access to food. The foundation focuses its efforts primarily on food security, water security and conflict mitigation. During the talk, Buffett made the point that food is more powerful than money in many parts in the world. He said, “You can use food to avoid conflict, but hunger causes conflict and conflict causes hunger.”

In addition to being a farmer and philanthropist, Buffett is also a photographer. In addition to Forty Chances, each member of the audience received a book which featured photographs Buffett took while traveling the world. He explained that photography is a way for him to document and prove what he sees. He also mentioned the importance seeing the problems he was trying to solve in person. He emphasized it’s important to show up. He said in order to understand something you have to feel it, smell it, see it and experience it. He said for him, there is no other way to gain that level of understanding.

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