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Hardcover What I Learned Before I Sold to Warren Buffett: An Entrepreneur's Guide to Developing a Highly Successful Company Book

ISBN: 0471271144

ISBN13: 9780471271147

What I Learned Before I Sold to Warren Buffett: An Entrepreneur's Guide to Developing a Highly Successful Company

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

Expert advice for those who want to create a solid company Through hard work and determination Barnett Helzberg built his small family owned business-Helzberg Diamonds-into a successful company that caught the attention of Warren Buffett. Buffett was so impressed with the business that in 1995 he decided to purchase Helzberg Diamonds through his holding company Berkshire Hathaway. Helzberg shares his thirty years of experience in running a successful...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings


In a book that is more almanac than business history, author Barnett C. Helzberg Jr. includes a bit of narrative, but this is not a discourse on what he learned as he developed his Kansas City jewelry store empire, not a case study and not a look at how the sale of his company to Buffett went (which might have been a dandy negotiations yarn). Instead, it is basically a sound collection of sayings, aphorisms and - now and then, it must be said - platitudes about what he knew before Buffett came along. This is not, therefore, a book that We recommend necessarily reading from cover to cover. Instead, keep it handy. Pick it up when you are stuck for ideas or guidance, and peruse it for experience and sense. If all the thoughts are not particularly original, that is part of their appeal. Like a Polonius of the Plains, the author is never at a loss for a nostrum. He reaffirms the sound, traditional principles that guided the steady and sure growth of his business. It worked for Warren; it may well work for you.

Like Sitting at the Feet of a Guru

If you're an entrepreneur-at any stage of the development of your business(es), you're hungry for the secrets of the successful trail blazers who have gone before you. The opportunity to learn from someone who built a strong enough business to sell to the legendary Warren Buffett would be particularly valuable. This book offers that coveted opportunity.The author did not build his business all by himself. His father and grandfather preceded him in building the three-generation family business of 143 retail jewelry stores in 23 states. A well-led executive team made it all work beautifully. Helzberg Diamonds set the standard for customer service, earning the loyalty of thousands of customers who contributed to the success of the enterprise.Helzberg starts his book by telling us that he's a plagiarist. He's collected ideas from many other people, used them to grow his business, and shares them in page after page of philosophy and advice. The book is organized into six sections: Managing, Decision Making, Hiring, Inspiring, Communicating, and Focusing. Each section is a collection of short chapters that deliver this effective CEO's secrets, illustrated with examples from what he and his company accomplished. Each chapter's advice is complemented by a sidebar entitled "Mining for Diamonds"-pithy statements that provide powerful guidance for any business leader. Quotes from a wide range of gurus, mentors, and leaders, offer an additional dose of thought-provoking and inspiring words.The book is easy for busy entrepreneurs to read. The chapters are short enough to absorb during a break-coffee, bathroom, or deep breath-and tightly written enough so you can glean the concepts quickly. A list of recommended readings and an index add value to the volume. The only feature that might have improved this treasure would be a complete listing in one place of all Helzberg's "Mining for Diamonds" advice. Too bad, you'll have to go through the book chapter by chapter to mine those gems for yourself. The experience will be worthwhile...and probably repeated a few times to gain the full impact of this down-to-earth, almost homespun, recipe book for entrepreneurial success.

A mandatory read for every business person!

I read everything written about Warren Buffett and therefore seeing him pictured with Barnett Helzberg on the cover piqued my interest to pick it up. What I found was a cogently written, pithy synopsis of what is really important for the success of any business. The "mining for diamonds" summaries and the integral selected quotations at the end of each chapter are also "gems". The wisdom shared in the pages applies to much more than business. I look forward to the sequel.

WhatIlearnedfrommy brother before he sold to Warren Buffett

Likely one of the reasons Barnett had such success is that he had the strength or character and ego to hire people he thought were smarter or better at the assigned task. When he got home from college I was his little brother and he was my mentor, but he has always had mentors, always wanted to learn from others. He, in turn, mentors others, and this book, straightforward and candid, does the same, and for anyone in management, there will be useful ideas and tools. I must disclose that I did receive a free book from the author, inscribed!Richard Helzberg

A true mentor.

Do you want to become an entrepreneur? Are you already an entrepreneur?This book is a simple, straightforward discussion of the business and personal concepts that have proven successful for Mr. Helzberg over his long and successful business career. If you are contemplating becoming an entrepreneur this book provides you with a frank discussion on what it entails. It also provides you with a mentor that has experienced, and overcame, many different situations. Even if you are already an entrepreneur this book contains many lessons and viewpoints that you could certainly put to good use in your own business operations.One of the best sources of information is someone who has already walked down the path you are embarking on. Mr. Helzberg has traveled far down the path of business success and is now willing to take the time to advise others on the twists and turns that appear on that path. I suggest you take advantage of his generosity.
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