- When the partnership I ran took control of Berkshire in 1965, I could never have dreamed that a year in which we had a gain of $24.1 billion would be subpar, in terms of the comparison we present on the facing page

from Warren Buffett – Letter To Shareholders 2012 on Rap Genius

Meaning

This is the Oracle of Omaha at his lyrical best. He is leading into the fact that Berkshire underperformed the S&P 500 for the fourth year in a row. For most writers, this would be a tough fact to present. Some might even attempt to pretend it didn’t happen and make some absolute rather than relative statement. Not Warren. He is way too good for that. He is going to come clean and do it in amazing style.

First, he reminds us that he’s been at this at Berkshire since 1965. This establishes that he is way more qualified to analyze his results than any analyst who hasn’t been covering him for the past 48 years. Next he points out the sheer magnitude of how much money he made this year: $24.1B. That’s some serious cheddar. At this point, most of us are like: “You go Warren!” So much so, that when he drops the bomb “subpar,” we’re all like: “don’t be so hard on yourself dude!”

This is one of the reasons why he is the great Warren Buffett and are all just hoping to be crude approximations.

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