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Life is What You Make It

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


Life is What You Make It by Peter Buffett
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The Bottom Line

Life is What You Make It is a powerful and thought-provoking book focused on teens and young adults to help them see the wisdom in making their own way in life and the reasons to take life seriously and deliberately while following their passion.
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  • Part autobiography and part personal motivation
  • Chock full of lessons that Peter Buffett learned from his famous father about responsibility
  • Thoughtful encouragement for teens and young adults to pursue their dreams


  • Hardcover edition is a bit pricey
  • Not all youth will relate to Peter Buffett's story


  • Life is What You Make It is an autobiographical account of growing up as billionaire Warren Buffett's son
  • Peter Buffett shares lessons in making wise choices personally, emotionally and financially
  • Teaches young people that character and personal strength are more important to success in life than money

Guide Review - Life is What You Make It

The Peter Buffett story is so different from the spoiled children of privilege stories that we read about in the media. Life is What You Make It is the antithesis of the Paris Hilton and Brittany Spears and Lindsay Lohan sagas of tabloid fame, and it is refreshing to read an uplifting and inspiring account of one child of America's wealthiest man and the son's rise to success on his own.

Instead of giving Peter and the other Buffett children a ridiculously large inheritance to squander on fame, the Buffett family offers their children a modest inheritance (about $90,000 for Peter) on their nineteenth birthday, with the expectation that they will work to make their own way in life. In reading Life is What You Make It, one can see that this is perhaps the most valuable gift than an affluent parent can give to a child.

Peter's passion was music and he used his modest share of his parents' fortune to pursue a career in the music industry. Successful in his own right, without major financial support from his parents, Peter learned important lessons early as a starving young artist in San Francisco, far away from his family in Omaha.

Much of the book focuses on what I call "life lessons"--the experiences in life that build our personal character. In his chapter on the mystery of vocation, Peter talks about how he has learned to embrace his passion for music and his unwavering personal commitment to make it his life's work. That kind of commitment and passion is an example for every teenager and young adult.

Peter also talks about more abstract concepts such as bliss ("We don't just find our bliss; we must figure out how to do our bliss") and success. About this topic, Peter writes:

"True success comes from within. It is a function of who we are and what we do. It emerges from the mysterious chemistry of our abilities and passion and hard work and commitment. True success is something we earn privately and whose value we determine for ourselves."

Life is What You Make It is an exceptional book to read with your teens and young adults and can stimulate important discussions about developing personal responsibility for one's own life. It is a great vehicle for talking with your children about values, success, handling prosperity responsibly and giving back to community and society.

One of a father's most important roles is teaching fundamental values to his children. Life is What You Make It is one of the best tools I have seen for having that conversation and creating those important teaching moments in the lives of our families.

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