This Was The Class That 'Had The Biggest Impact' In Terms Of Warren Buffett's Success — Admits He Was 'Physically Ill' At Public Speaking

Warren Buffett is a successful American business owner who owns the wildly successful Berkshire Hathaway holding company. Looking at him now, it's unbelievable that he was once "physically ill" at public speaking. Buffett credits one class for his success in overcoming this fear. 

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Many people will be surprised to hear that Buffett hasn’t always been a natural public speaker, even though hundreds of people gather outside the CHI Health Center Arena in Omaha, Nebraska, to hear him at the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting. CNBC reported that Buffett once revealed that public speaking made him "physically ill," and despite being a billionaire, this is something he has in common with many people. In fact, being afraid of public speaking is a common fear among famous individuals who eventually overcame it. For example, world-famous minister Joel Osteen, worth $180 Million, used to be "scared to death" before preaching his sermons. Other well-known figures who were initially afraid of public speaking included Mahatma Gandhi and even former President Abraham Lincoln.      

Being the founder of a multinational conglomerate holding company meant that, at some point, Buffett had to address a crowd. During an interview with Levo League, Buffett revealed, "You’ve got to be able to communicate in life, and it's enormously important," and added, "If you can't communicate and talk to other people and get across your ideas, you're giving up your potential." 

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Buffett attributes overcoming this fear to attending the Dale Carnegie Course. These classes, founded by American writer and lecturer Dale Carnegie, teach professionals public speaking and interpersonal skills. In his HBO documentary, Becoming Warren Buffett, the investor revealed, "In my office, you will not see the degree that I got from the University of Nebraska. You will not see the master’s degree I got from Columbia University," he added, "But you will see the award certificate I got from the Dale Carnegie Course." 

However, Buffett's fear was not overcome instantly, and the Dale Carnegie Course was not the first public speaking class he signed up for. Buffett admitted that he signed up for another class and dropped out before it started. He persevered and completed the Dale Carnegie course and, immediately after completion, taught an investment class at a college to practice what he learned.   

During an interview with author Gillian Zoe Segal in 2015, Buffett explained, "[The class] certainly had the biggest impact in terms of my subsequent success," and elaborated, "A relatively modest improvement [in your communication skills] can make a major difference in your future earning power, as well as in many other aspects of your life." 

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To this day, Buffett still benefits from what he learned during his classes and shares what it takes to become a good communicator. One of the things that Buffett learned was to talk about something that you know, and being an active learner can help with that. Carnegie also emphasized talking from your experiences: "Carry a sheet of paper with you for a few weeks and write down, as you think of them, all the subjects that you are prepared to talk about through experience." Buffett does this quite often during his talks. 

Another tip Buffett learned from the classes was to get excited about the topic, as positive energy can create confidence. Carnegie advised, "Even people with only mediocre speaking ability may make superb talks if they will speak about something that has deeply stirred them."

Buffett's enthusiasm for investing and finance shines through in his speeches, and combined with the Dale Carnegie Course, he became a successful investor who is now worth $133 billion.   

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