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Buffett’s Succession Plan – 11.02.2010Last week Warren Buffett announced that Todd Combs, a little known 39-year-old fund manager from Darian, CT is the leading contender to take over Berkshire Hathaway’s portfolio when Buffet dies or retires. In order to fill the position, Buffett posted a help wanted ad (yes you read it right) that was responded to by hundreds of people, among them Comb’s, who was among the long list of undistinguished applicants that didn’t hear back. Undaunted, Todd wrote a letter directly to Berkshire’s vice chairman Charles Munger, and this time he struck a chord, and got a meeting. He carried the day and was ultimately selected, not because he is a brilliant investor, but because he would fit-in to Berkshire’s no-fuss culture. There are two lessons here. The first is the virtue of tenacity and figuring out how to standout in the crowd especially in today’s dynamic environment when competition is fierce. The other is to not underestimate the power of culture. In some companies it is just more important who you are, rather than what you can do.

Tony LoPinto is a senior client partner and head of Korn//Ferry International’s Real Estate Practice and founder of SelectLeaders. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.

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