Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Alice Schroeder

From a Q&A with Alice Schroeder, author of The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life:

When did you first meet Warren Buffett, and what was your first impression?

His company, Berkshire Hathaway, bought a company whose stock I followed while working as a Wall Street analyst. I sent him a letter asking to bring some clients to Omaha to meet with him. He called me back in person. I was immensely flattered and impressed that someone like him would call me. He came across as down-to-earth and grandfatherly.

Because you were essentially handpicked by Buffett to write his biography, was it ever difficult to remain objective throughout the process?

By the time I started the book I’d known him for five years. My initial awe gave way to curiosity as I began to understand him as a human being. He became a fascinating puzzle that I wanted to solve. Gradually, I realized that writing the book meant putting my relationship with him on the line. Whether your subject will do future interviews with you, how he will react to what you’ve written, whether he or his powerful friends will approve of you afterward — until you accept the worst outcomes to these questions, the relationship is steering the writing. As somebody once put it, you have to write as though both you and your subject are dead. That’s a tall order, but I tried.

What does the title–The Snowball–signify? [read on]
--Marshal Zeringue