Augustine had started waitressing in 1999 while finishing up an associates degree in business and then a bachelors degree in secondary education, but she continued to serve Buffett’s lunches and dinners even after she became an economics teacher at Omaha South High School. Since then, she has shared Buffett’s wisdom and wit with hundreds of sophomores she teaches, she says.
In Augustine’s class, students get a whole course on Buffett’s philosophies.
“I love to talk about Warren and his story,” she says. Every year after Berkshire’s annual shareholder meeting in Omaha, her students complete a research paper on Buffett and investing, and Augustine shares research she’s done from reading about Buffett’s strategies for investment.
“Saving and investing, that’s huge,” she explains. “I teach at a high school that is 85 percent poverty [level] so some of my kids don’t even know who Warren Buffett is, which is kind of shocking.
“We talk about how Mr. Buffett was a paper boy and he saved his money so he could invest it,” she continues. “I teach sophomore economics, so they’re just right about the age they start working, 15 years old, 16 years old, so the saving and investing is key. They get their first paycheck and go spend it on one pair of tennis shoes. What are those tennis shoes going to do for you for the rest of your life?”
Augustine uses her decade worth of anecdotes overheard from Buffett to illustrate his ideas about frugality and long term thinking. She says a favorite is a story Buffett shared at a Piccolo’s dinner party about his trip to the White House to visit President Barack Obama in 2010. At some point during the meeting, Obama noticed Buffett’s tie was frayed, so the president went upstairs and returned with a gift-wrapped tie for Buffett to wear instead.
“The kids really get into that, and it helps when I can tell them stories that I’ve heard him tell,” she says. And, she also encourages students to think about buying stocks as buying a small piece of a company you believe in — a long held tenant of Buffett’s philosophy.
“I think one of the most important things that I’ve learned from Mr. Buffett from reading [about him] and talking with him is making sure that whatever you’re investing in aligns with your values,” she says. “You don’t want to invest in a business that’s doing things you don’t believe in.”
Augustine, a mother of four, says her 11-year-old son has already started investing. “Of course, I share my stories with my son,” she says with a laugh. “He’s kind of a nerd.”
Although Piccolo’s has closed, Augustine is waitressing part time at Gorat’s, which Buffett still occasionally frequents. Augustine now shares her stories with patrons there. Outside of his investing tips, Augustine tries to pass along Buffett’s practice of authenticity.