Transcript of a Speech by Jorge Paulo Lemann
Businessweek has called him “the world’s most interesting billionaire” and Warren Buffett once said he was an “extraordinary manager.” However, despite purchasing three of the most iconic brands in America–Heinz, Burger King, and Budweiser–and building a tremendous track record as an investor and operator, Jorge Paulo Lemann remains virtually unknown. This is in no small part a function of his reluctance to comment to the press or speak publicly.
However, a few years ago, Lemann gave a speech to prospective Harvard students which was then uploaded to YouTube. The speech, which was delivered entirely in Portuguese, was entitled “What I Learned at Harvard.” In it, Lemann recounts his experience nearly getting thrown out of school at the end of his freshman year, his return the next year determined to succeed, and many of the lessons he learned as an undergraduate that he believes formed the framework for his later business success. Besides a few brief comments in various periodicals over time, as far as I can tell, this has been his only public speaking appearance in recent years. And for the first time it is accessible in English as I’ve had it translated and transcribed. It truly is a great speech from a fascinating investor.
A few of my favorite quotes from Jorge Paulo Lemann’s “What I Learned at Harvard” speech:
“I always say that to have a big dream is the same amount of work as having a little dream”
“I discovered at Harvard that simple is always better than complicated”
“I think in life you have to take risks and I think the only way you learn to take risks is practicing, practicing.”