“You’ve got to be able to communicate in life. It’s enormously important.
If you can’t communicate and talk to other people and get across your ideas, you’re giving up your potential.”
That was Warren Buffett's answer to the question "what habits did you cultivate in your 20s and 30s that you see as the foundation of success?”
But to understand his answer, you have to realise when Buffett was a younger man, he absolutely terrified of public speaking. During university he would only select subjects that didn't require a presentation.
However, like many aspiring businessmen, he he realised during his first job that he needed to conquer this fear if he was going to get anywhere. So, he enrolled in a Dale Carnegie public speaking course. Needless to say, he got over this fear.
Nowadays, people flock to see the "Oracle of Omaha" every year to witness him deliver his annual address to his shareholders. Some people buy shares in his company just so they can attend this presentation!
But it wasn't just a case of joining a class. Buffett admitted that in high school and college he held a deep-seated fear of public speaking. Even the thought of taking a public speaking class unnerved him, and he backed out at the last second the first time he signed up. But he realized that you just have to do it, and he did.
“If you can’t communicate and talk to other people… you’re giving up your potential,”
If you’re an introvert, Buffett said, you have to get out there and “you have to do it. And the sooner you do it, the better. It’s so much easier to learn the right habits when you’re young. If you have a fear of associating with people, you have to go out there and do it, and it’s painful… When I was young and completed the [public speaking] course, I was worried I would lapse back… so I started teaching a class at night and, you know, you’ve got to force yourself to do some things sometimes.”
Part of great communication is making sure you read a lot. Buffett says he reads five to six hours a day.
The bottom line, said Buffett, is to “just get yourself out there and force yourself to get into situations with people. Most of them don’t bite!”