One of my father's often-quoted tenets is that a parent, if he has the means to do so, should give his children "enough to do anything, but not enough to do nothing." A head start is fine; a free pass is often a crippling disservice. When I turned 19, I received my inheritance—proceeds from the sale of a farm, which my father converted into Berkshire Hathaway stock. At the time I received them, the shares were worth roughly $90,000. It was understood that I should expect nothing more.
So—what to do with the money? I was a student at Stanford University; there were no strings attached. Fortunately, I'd had the advantage of seeing my older siblings burn through most of their cash; I didn't want to follow down that path. At the other extreme, I might have done absolutely nothing with that stock—just left it in an account and forgotten about it. If I'd picked that option, my shares would now be worth around $72 million. But I didn't make that choice, and I don't regret it for a second. People think I'm either lying or crazy when I say this, but it happens to be true, because I used my nest egg to buy something more valuable than money: I used it to buy time.
My inheritance came to me around the time I was finally committing to the pursuit of a career in music. As a pragmatic Midwesterner with a very limited nest egg, I knew that I would have to find a way to turn my creative impulses into a livelihood. But how did one do that? How would I find an audience, or clients, or a way to sell what I'd written and produced? I didn't have a clue, but it was becoming clear to me that I wasn't going to figure it out by staying in a university.
~ Peter Buffett, from the book Life is What You Make It: Find Your Own Path to Fulfillment