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Life Is What You Make It (UPDATED)

December 5, 2011

Today’s guest post comes from Peter Buffett, Emmy award-winning composer, NY Times best-selling author, philanthropist and son of investor, Warren Buffett.

I’m thrilled to be featured as a guest blogger on the AmeriCorps Alum blog! I have so much respect for those of you who have chosen to spend time in your career focusing on content and meaning, not just the reward. This mindset, I believe, is the foundation that leads to a fulfilling (and rewarding) life.

My mother and father taught me this lesson. For my father- and now for me- the essence of a successful career starts with meeting a challenge of self-discovery, finding something you love to do, so that work- even when it is very difficult and arduous- becomes joyful, maybe even sacred. When I was very young, my father spent long hours in his office studying massive and mysterious books (later I learned these books were Value Line and Moody’s). When doing so, he went into a sort of trance. He would emerge from his office and there would be an almost saintly calm about him. Observing him at these times, I learned a simple but profound lesson: work should be demanding and intense, and it should make us happy.

My mother showed me facets of the outside world that I could have otherwise seen through a very narrow lens. Through her interactions with others I saw that everyone had something to teach – through listening we learn. Points of view- political, religious and more – are all based on culture, environment and experience. No one is “right” and no one is “wrong”.

I caution people just beginning their professional lives to beware of “fashionable careers.” Back in the 1980s, the hot career was management consulting; so many people chased that particular Grail that, not surprisingly, there soon came to be a glut of management consultants. Fashion swung to lawyering… until there were too many lawyers. More recently, the tide turned toward investment banking, and we’ve see where that particular fixation got us. The point is that, even if we follow a rainbow whose color is money green, there’s just no guarantee that there’ll be a pot of gold at the end.

Our values guide our choices; our choices define who we are, what sort of people we will choose to be. I encourage everyone to listen to their inner voice and choose the path of least resistance, to open themselves up and to aim for the goal of earning a life and not just a paycheck.

AmeriCorps Alums have already made this important step. You all think more about what you can accomplish in the world than about how the world does or doesn’t reward you. Your years of service give you tremendous potential in the next phase of your careers. As an alumnus of the program, you are in a unique position to place your values at the forefront of your lives and create a more just and equitable world in which success is measured by what we create for each other. What a fine position to be in!

I invite you to join me on Thursday, December 15th at 3:30pm EST, for a webinar and discussion on finding personal value in our work and re-defining success. I look forward to conversing with you about how to translate your AmeriCorps experience to the larger community.

UPDATE: You can now register for the webinar here. One lucky attendee will have the chance to win a free signed copy of Peter Buffett’s book, Life Is What You Make It.

Peter Buffett’s work with numerous non-profit organizations – including the NoVo Foundation, of which he is the co-chair – has helped him become a well-known activist for social concerns. Previous human rights-driven music collaborations by Buffett include “Blood Into Gold,” featuring Grammy-nominated recording artist Akon and “A Song for Everyone” featuring Angelique Kidjo. Buffett is currently performing his “Life Is What You Make It: A Concert & Conversation with Peter Buffett” series around the world to support his NY Times Best Selling book, Life Is What You Make It (Random House/Harmony Books).

Buffett has launched his own social network community,, to release new material to his exclusive network of fans on a monthly basis.
More information is available at

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Del Bharath permalink
    December 5, 2011 11:19 am

    Great article. Do you have more information on the webinar?

  2. Kathy Hess permalink
    December 5, 2011 11:20 am

    Wise words, indeed!

  3. December 5, 2011 11:23 am

    We’re waiting on the link and more info, but when it becomes available, you’ll all be the first to know!

    – Ken


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