TODAY

TODAY   |  October 22, 2013

Buffett family: You only get 40 chances in life

Warren Buffett, his son Howard G. Buffet and grandson Howard W. Buffett talk about their new book “40 Chances,” which suggests we all have a limited number of opportunities to do good in the world.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> if someone gave you 40 chances to accomplish your goals in life, what would you do? that's the question that son of warren buffet asks in his new book. howard is here along with his dad and his son, hwb as we'll be calling you throughout the interview.

>> good morning.

>> i can't wait to talk about the book. i have to ask you a little politics first. you said about this recent debt ceiling crisis it was like using a political weapon of mass destruction . do you think real damage was done?

>> well not much damage was done but we came close to doing irreparable damage. that's why i call it a political weapon of mass destruction . we're not using poison gas . we don't use the nuclear bomb. even when we don't get our way. it should be taken off the table.

>> as a business man, what do you think of the new health care roll out and the problems with the website?

>> well, i would have hated to have had that job myself. it will get involved.

>> well, let me turn to you howard . you have written this book 40 chances and it's a series of vignettes and the idea is to inspire people. i understand this concept has its roots in farming. you are a farmer.

>> yeah, i learned a long time agatha a farmer gets about 40 seasons, 40 crops. it changed my thinking about farming and life. it's a mind set that you have 40 opportunities. once you get through school and you get a little experience you get about 40 opportunities, 40 years to accomplish your goals and i kid that i wasted at least 10 or 20. so i'm starting behind the curve. but it's a mind set. it's an urgency and believing that we don't have the time in the world to do what we need to do.

>> it sounds like a lot of time and not enough time. you ran out and wrote this book. it's 40 different stories and also very much commeplimented by your phone photographs. is it supposed to be a call to action ?

>> it is a call to action . there's different themes through the book, but one is to urge people to take more risks. be willing to fail and talk about how you fail and why you failed so other people don't have to follow your footsteps and then i think we talked about all the lessons we learned throughout our couple of decades of working globally and there's a lot of things we needed to do differently. if we were doing so well we wouldn't have a billion people going to bed hungry and 3 or 4 billion people without access to clean water .

>> and your son howard , you refer to as hwb so i'm going with it. you write in the book as well and you talk in particular about some aid organizations that intend to do well but sometimes are working at cross purposes .

>> yeah, when you're responding in a disaster situation, sometimes there will be a lack of coordination because of the nature of how you're responding. but for us what we were really able to see is so many examples of people that inspire us and organizations doing wonderful work. our time in afghanistan together, all over the world you see folks dedicated to making a change in the world.

>> warren, people are endlessly fascinated by not only your enormous wealth but your decision to, instead of spending it on fancy stuff, spending it on the world. is this what you had in mind when you decided to give billions to your children so they would do charitable work ?

>> it's been better than i hoped. it's been terrific. the money does me no good at all. it can have enormous utility to people around the world and fortunately i have three children that are willing to spend their lives working at that.

>> do you engage in any luxuries at all?

>> dairy queen . i've got an interest in a plane.

>> okay.

>> that's pretty good.

>> howard , wha has it been like for you to be given this kind of money to spend in this way? i would think it's entirely thrilling and also overwhelming to think of the good you could do.

>> it hasn't been overwhelming. it's a challenge. you have to be responsible about it but the problems are so large. i mean, i travel all the time and speak to thousands of people around the world and i have for a lot of years and you just see how many people have so many challenges. so me, it takes a lot of money -- money is only one part of the equation but it does take money to solve problems. so i will take as much as i can get.

>> howard , thank you so much. and also warren buffet . also a good time to see you. the book is called 40 chances. we have an excerpt on our website today.com. check it out.