Coverage nothing short of an adventure
Published: Monday, May 10, 2010
Updated: Monday, May 10, 2010 07:05
After sending a letter to Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway's CEO and chairman, a fellow business writer and I were able to attend the company's annual shareholders meeting and learn firsthand about the legendary investor's world-renowned business model and his thoughts on current developments in the economy.
We only expected to watch the conference from across the street at the Qwest Center in Omaha, Nebraska, as was the case for the other 1,200 students who obtained permission to attend the meeting. However, after a number of unexpected events, we were able to get close enough to Buffett to take pictures.
We first flew from New Jersey to Houston, Texas, at 3 p.m., and then took a connecting flight that was supposed to land in Omaha at 11:20 p.m. on Thursday. However, there were thunderstorms headed toward Omaha and the pilot decided it would be safer to land in Kansas City, Missouri.
In Missouri, after waiting for more than an hour inside the plane and then at the desolate terminal, we asked a flight crewmember whether she thought we would be able to get to Omaha before Saturday morning, when the meeting would take place. She said no because the weather was forecasted to worsen on Friday.
We then decided to rent a car and drive over to Omaha. Three other people tagged along with us and we split the cost. One was a lady from Mexico, whose family was waiting in the Omaha Airport after driving for three hours from a nearby town. Another was a graduate student from the University of Tampa, Chris Miller, co-owner of Delta Real Estate Portfolio, whose partner was presenting their business for a chance to win the Global Student Entrepreneur Award on Friday morning. The other, who came from Washington D.C., was going to her sister's wedding on Friday morning.
We, The Ticker staff, had a panel discussion to attend at Creighton University in Omaha in the afternoon that same Friday. We all came together and rented a 12-passenger van and drove from Kansas City, Missouri, through Iowa and into Omaha, arriving at 6 a.m. on Friday.
Once settled, we attended the panel discussion where a myriad of professionals, including lead speaker Professor Bruce Greenwald of Columbia Business School, spoke on value investing. At the end of the panel, we approached the professor to comment on his words and we met a Baruch alumnus, Jamiel Sheikh (Class of '95), who said he did not expect to see Baruch students there. Once he found out we were not going to be able to get into the arena, where the meeting was being held, he offered to obtain some passes for us.
The next morning at 5:20 a.m., we stood in line at the Qwest Center with the other couple thousand people waiting for Sheikh, who eventually came at around 6 a.m. and provided us with passes.
Once inside, we tracked Buffett around the center and although we were close, we missed him more than once. Then, prior to the start of the event, Sheikh suggested that if we wanted a good shot of Buffett, we needed to go to where the commotion appeared to be happening. I saw a lot of cameramen and people walking towards the arena, so I ran to the front, jumped on a chair and started snapping shots of Buffett until the opening video started.
We obtained great shots of Buffett, his daughter and son, as well as Charles Munger, Berkshire's vice chairman. We were also able to meet Andrew Ross Sorkin, author of Too Big to Fail, and Roger Lowenstein, author of When Genius Failed.
The event was a particularly fun experience for The Ticker staff and we want to say thank you to those of you involved here at Baruch, in New York City and over in Omaha. Do we plan to do it next year? As the folks in Omaha say, "You betcha."