"He pretty much does anything you ask him to," Antonio Espinosa, an MBA candidate at Notre Dame told the Wall Street Journal today of Warren Buffett. Espinosa was specifically referring to the time-honored photoshoots Buffett stars in several times a year after having lunch (chicken parmesan and root beer floats) with business students and driving them around in his Cadillac. Where the willingness to do "anything" comes into play is after taking a "serious shot," suitable for featuring in the family newsletter, when Buffett does a "funny pose" with each participant, who is granted free reign on direction. Among the most recent group, there was a junior at Northern Arizona University who requested WB act like he was proposing to her ("Please take me. Please have me," he begged); a Northwestern finance major who asked a classmate to "help her tug on Mr. Buffett, one woman on each side, so it would look like they were fighting over him for a date"; another Wildcat who "asked Mr. Buffett to mimic the famous pose from 'Home Alone,' by putting hands to his head and making a silent scream"; and a second year at University of Toronto's b-school, who told him "I'm going to whisper something in your ear-- pretend I'm saying something very exciting!" ("he started making these noises, like "Oooh!"'). Unfortunately, not everything always goes according to plan.
While waiting for his turn, Pat Ryan was disappointed to see a handful of other students ahead of him in line doing the same thing he planned: swapping eyeglasses with Mr. Buffett. Mr. Ryan, a 29-year-old M.B.A. student at Notre Dame, had to think fast. At the last minute, he ditched his original plan and instead asked Mr. Buffett to grab the young man's tie and pretend to choke him. Mr. Buffett didn't hesitate, laughing as he followed Mr. Ryan's instructions. "He went right for it, and you could tell he really enjoyed it," says Mr. Ryan.
Though Ryan was able to think fast, not everyone can improvise. What's more, now that it's been reported that Buffett enjoys choking people out on camera, lots of kids are going to request the pose, hoping to impress him. What would be more impressive, however, would be bringing a little originality and lot out of outside the box to the scene. For students that need some help, perhaps we could do them a solid and throw some ideas out? According to Buffett, "I'd do anything they want, though I draw the line at proposing to a man," so, with that one exception, sky's pretty much the limit. As jumping off points we've got getting him to pose wearing a tee-shirt that says I Heart Lubrozol, miming blowing him, or you wearing a Lloyd mask while handing him a Publisher's Clearinghouse-sized check for $5,649,000,000.