He later remarked that there was an alternate path that he could take by graduating from college to find a steady job while leaving his stock inheritance untouched to grow in value. “But I didn’t make that choice and I don’t regret it for a second,” he said
In 1977, Peter Buffet turned 19 and he received his inheritance. It was the proceeds from the sale of his grandfather's farm which Peter's father Warren Buffet converted into $90,000 worth of Berkshire Hathaway stock.
The $90,000 was the only inheritance the Emmy winning musician received for personal use although he and his siblings were given an enormous sum from their father to do charitable work.
So, what did the then-teenager Peter do with all that money? Well, as he would later reminisce in his 2010 memoir, "So I had the advantage of seeing my [two] older siblings burn through most of their cash rather quickly and I didn't want to follow that path."
Finding his 'sound'
Peter at that time decided to pursue his dreams of being a musician. And soon afterwards, he received that money. So, instead of flying first class across the world, Peter decided to sell his shares.
As he later recalled in his book 'Life is what you make it,' he used the money to "buy the time it would take to figure out if I could make a go of it in music."
He dropped out of Stanford University. Although he lacked the idea as to how to be a professional musician, he knew that it wasn't going to happen by "taking all those 101s and –ologies."
So, he worked out a budget and moved to San Francisco where he lived in a small studio apartment. His only extravagance was in "updating and expanding my recording equipment," he later recalled.
He took on unpaid work and decided to focus on perfecting his craft, both as a pianist and a music producer. Writing tunes, he experimented with sounds and recording technique.
But his break was not easy to come. One day when he was washing his car, a neighbour he often saw but never really knew stopped and asked what Peter did for a living.
Peter said he was a struggling composer and the neighbour then introduced him to his son-in-law, an animator who needed ad tunes for a new cable channel. That channel turned out to be MTV, a defining cultural phenomenon of the 1980s.
Years later at the age of 62, Peter ended up with over a dozen released studio albums, mostly in the category of a new age and ambient music.
He also worked on the score of 'Dances with Wolves,' the critically acclaimed Western film.
Time – the greatest investment of all
Peter Buffet said there was an alternate path that he could take. He could graduate from college to find a steady, high-paying job while leaving his stock inheritance untouched to grow in value.
(According to CNBC calculations, $90,000 of Berkshire Hathaway stock in 1977 would be worth more than $200 million as of May 6, 2020, for a total return of over 250,000%.)
"But I didn't make that choice and I don't regret it for a second," Peter wrote.
"I used my nest egg to buy something infinitely more valuable than money: I used it to buy time," he added.
And, that time allowed him to find success in doing the work he loved.
Peter learned a very important lesson about work ethics quite early in his childhood. His father taught him that the point of work wasn't to make as much money as possible because that is 'wealth ethics.'
Rather, his father told him, one must do something they love, something that makes them delighted to get out of bed every morning.
That distinction is easy to miss in Warren's case because the work he loves most — investing — is all about money. And in investing, if you do it well and with passion, then you are ought to be very rich.
But Warren never did it for the money. He advises young people today to "take the job you would take if you were independently wealthy."
But, let's be real. Most of us don't get a chance to do what Peter did.
And, he acknowledged later in life in his book, "I am well aware that [my inheritance] was more than most young people receive to help them get a start in life and having that money was a privilege, a gift I had not earned."
He continued, "There are many people who are privileged, either in terms of money, emotional support or some sort of unique talent or opportunity but they fail to understand the value of time and instead try to rush into their destiny" — and, as a result, end up "working jobs that may or may not be right for them, that may or may not be fulfilling."
"Without those hundreds of unpaid hours spent fiddling with my recording gear, I would not have found my sound or approach. Doing so," he wrote, "required patience and time."
"I learned more in those difficult times about myself and my resiliency than I ever would have if I had a pile of money and glided through life," Peter said in the NPR interview.
"I honestly feel that my father's refusal [to let me take the easy way out] was an act of love — as if to say, 'I believe in you, and you don't need my help.'"