Upon hearing that Peter Buffett — son of American investor Warren Buffett — wrote a motivational book entitled Life is What You Make It, your first question might be: What hard life experiences did the son of a billionaire go through that would inspire him to write a self-help book? The answer, in short, is none.
After growing up modestly in Omaha, Neb., Buffett attended Stanford — thanks to a recommendation letter from the publisher of The Washington Post — before dropping out to pursue a career in music.
Now a composer with numerous television scores — two of which earned him Emmys — and a solo album under his belt, Buffett decied to share his experience.
It must first be noted that this book is wrongly being touted as appropriate for teenagers and college-age adults.
Because most of Life Is What You Make It is a handbook for affluent parents who do not want to raise spoiled kids, the book instead speaks to members of the upper middle class who have or are considering having children.
When Buffett is not giving unsupported child-rearing advice, he is abundantly extolling the wonderful upbringing he received from his parents.
This seems dishonest, however, since he fails to mention the fact that in 1977 his parents stopped living together — though remained married until his mother’s death in 2004 — and in 2006, his father re-married to the woman with whom he had been living since the 1977 separation.
Furthermore, there is no mention of Warren’s having disowned Peter’s adopted daughter, artist Nicole Buffett (the child of his first wife), after she appeared in the documentary The One Percent, which was about the country’s gap between rich and poor.
Nevertheless, Buffett’s book talks a great deal about his inspirational upbringing, which he thinks other parents should emulate.
For instance, as a child, his family often hosted exchange students from multiple countries. His mother was an active member of his education, often sitting in on his classes just so she could be involved. She even took him to what he considered to be the “bad” and “poor” parts of Omaha so that he could see that these people had “the same blood running through their veins and love in their hearts.”
Buffett does not seem to understand how lucky he was that his family could afford to have extra visitors staying in the house for fun. Nor does he realize that most parents want to be involved in their children’s lives but simply can’t because they work one or more jobs.
Again and again Buffett repeats his tenet that we should do what makes us happy in life and not be concerned about the paycheck.
Clearly this is because he never had to be concerned about the paycheck. Even if he never received a large trust fund, he certainly never had to be concerned about having food or shelter.
Thankfully, Peter does admit he is not perfect.
One of the biggest mistakes he says he ever made in life was buying a house that was too big. Not that he ended up on the streets because of it — it was just another experience he had to learn from.
Like most of his mistakes, experiences and lessons, the general population can only hope in another lifetime to experience them.
If your last name is Gates, or you come from similar wealth and plan on raising children, then this book is for you. You will learn how to teach your children the value of a dollar and how to let them follow their dreams.
For Buffett, it seems one of the worst things a parent can do is force his or her child to be a lawyer or doctor. The child probably wants to be an artist and you should let him or her do that, unless of course your name is Nicole Buffett and then you will be disowned.
But if you fall under the heading of middle class, your time is best spent reading elsewhere.
Despite his parent’s best efforts, Peter Buffett is just another spoiled rich kid with a publishing deal.