Vicariously Attend Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Stockholder Conference: A Comprehensive Guide
9:00 am, April 30th | by Hillary Reinsberg
The day. has. come.
Styleite might have had Kate, Wills and the Wedding of the Century — but we have Warren Buffett and the Woodstock of Capitalism: the annual Berkshire Hathaway Stockholder Conference.
Why do we care?
Because the company’s army of investors have flocked to Omaha, Nebraska where they’ll hear Warren Buffett make jokes, get some answers on the recent David Sokol controversy, and also attend picnics and steak dinners and get shopping discounts. We know you want to be there, but in the unfortunate event you didn’t make it, here’s your highly-detailed guide to attending the Berkshire Hathaway Stockholder Conference vicariously.
Berkshire Hathaway’s hilariously 90s-era website (you really must take a look) has a brochure available for PDF download, which provides the ins and outs of your glamorous Omaha getaway. Print this baby out, we’re taking a virtual trip to Nebraska! On the last page, there’s the above picture of Buffett in an ad for a knitting store that his daughter apparently co-owns. Because, sure.
…On to the good stuff! So basically, this inaugural portion of the conference is kind of like a megachurch meets a college reunion. Things kicked off last night with a three-hour cocktail reception at Borsheim’s, which is a massive jewelry store in Omaha. The cocktail party likely looked something like this. Provided last year’s returns were good enough, you can blow some money on jewels there throughout the weekend, as well. (Psst — there are shareholder discounts!) Presumably, everyone will be gossiping about the company’s Sokol scandal, and gawking at Buffett and his crew.
Saturday: Movie, Q&A and Formal Meeting
Okay, onto today! Doors at the Qwest Center opened at 7 a.m., and the conference starts at 8:30 a.m., when an hour-long company movie begins. At 9:30, the meeting officially begins with a Q&A session led by Buffett. Three journalists (from Fortune, CNBC and The New York Times) will ask the questions, all of which were submitted to the journalists by shareholders. The journalists get to choose a dozen or so of the best questions, none of which Buffett or his vice chairman Charlie Munger get to see in advance. But shareholders get to ask questions directly too. There’s a raffle among shareholders for the thirteen microphones, for those shareholders who want to ask their own question. The raffle takes place right before the meeting, at 8:15, so you have to be ready to roll, should you enter the drawing. The journalists and winning shareholders alternate the questions asked. Sadly, for Buffett, a number of the questions likely will focus on the company’s David Sokol scandal. When you ask a question, do: state your name and hometown and “speak loud & clear”! Don’t: “bundle” a number of questions into one or ask what Berkshire is buying and selling. Warren will catch you! Apparently he’s smart or something.
Getting hungry? At noon, there’s a lunch break! Tickets for lunch are $13, which seems reasonable enough. Unload your opinion on Sokol at lunch, for sure.
Okay, then it’s time shuffle back into the Qwest Center, for more Q&A at 1 p.m., until 3:30 p.m., at which point there’s a fifteen minute break, before the oddly timed, fifteeen minute “formal business meeting — which sounds wonderfully short for a “formal business meeting.” After this, you can check out the exhibit booths for a little, which include demos from Berkshire-owned businesses. Looking for a new private plane? NetJets will have a booth! You can probably check out the booths during lunch too.
Saturday Night: The Picnic
Finally, you can go back to the hotel and take a nap! Just kidding, you can’t. It’s time for the stockholder picnic, which runs from 5:30 to 8 p.m. This conveniently takes place at the Nebraska Furniture Mart, which is the largest home furnishing store in North America and (fun fact) was founded by a lady who couldn’t read or write. At 77 acres, this place is seriously huge. It’s $5 to get in, and you get a burger, chips, cookie and a drink. And there’s live local music, Nebraskan style. Fun stuff. No frills.
Sunday: Buy Things and Eat Steak
On Sunday, Buffett wants you to eat more meat! You get to spend the day shopping at the jewelry store, or doing whatever you want, we guess. In the afternoon and evening, Buffett suggests you visit one of his favorite steakhouses, Gorat’s. In the event that Gorat’s is booked, you can settle for Piccolo’s, where you should order Buffett’s fave (according to the Berkshire info pamphlet), a root beer float! Duly noted.
We know, we know. So much to remember! To keep up to date on the weekend’s events, try following one of the journalists who will be asking questions: Andrew Ross Sorkin (@andrewrsorkin) of The New York Times/Dealbook or Becky Quick (@beckyquickcnbc). The third journalist, Carol Loomis , doesn’t tweet (she’s 81-years-old!), but she’s super close with Buffett.
Bonus points: see if you can spot Buffett’s earnest security guard, who got the profile treatment this week.