The business journalist who ate the Warren Buffett diet
Editor’s note: Business Insider policy reporter Bob Bryan decided to try out billionaire Warren Buffett’s diet, and his story was an immediate sensation in business journalism circles, with more than 1 million reads this week. We asked him to write about his experience.
Sometimes reporters become part of a story, but for my latest story I decided to make myself the focus of the story.
I decided that for one work week — Sept. 25 to Sept. 29 — I as going to eat like Warren Buffett.
That may not sound too bad, but Buffett has a legendary diet consisting of Cherry Coca-Cola and mounds of junk food. The week was a mess. At various points during the week I was sugar high to the point of tingling, sweating from unusual places such as my eyelids or knee caps, and consuming nearly twice the daily recommended amount of calories.
Now this may sound like it was a long, well-thought out idea given the length of time and the toll it took on me. I must inform you that it was the opposite of well-thought out.
The idea came during a casual workplace discussion about eating and diets. I mentioned that Buffett eats like garbage and when my colleague, retail reporter Kate Taylor, caught my eye, we immediately said the same thing.
“Someone should eat like him.”
We’ve done celebrity diets for posts at Business Insider before, most recently Tom Brady’s bonkers TB12 plan, so the idea was greeted with enthusiasm from the higher-ups (all of whom conveniently sit within 30 feet of me). I think Editor-In-Chief Alyson Shontell went so far as to call it “genius” (honestly I don’t remember if she said that exactly, but she was enthused). And so a plan was hatched and the rest is history.
Since the article came out, I’ve gotten a huge response from readers, coworkers, and friends. Most people also have a lot of questions about the post and process, including the proprietor of this blog, so here are the answers to some of the more frequent questions I’ve received.
Why’d you do it?
Traffic and vanity….
Not really, it was because I could mostly. I’m fascinated by Buffett, it was an excuse to eat like a child for a week, and because every once in awhile I try to do something fresh and creative. Sometimes it’s nice taking a break from straight news and letting my voice come through and this was a chance to do that.
How did you do your normal work?
This was actually pretty tough. As I mentioned.
For one thing, I have supportive editors who were clued in that I was doing it including markets editor Jon Garber and pretty much every desk editor Brett LoGiurato. For stuff like this having good editors who are willing to work with you on your more… let’s say… foolish ideas is key.
For another, it was an exciting week — I covered both the collapse of the Graham-Cassidy health care bill and the unified framework for tax reform — which helped. If it had been a slow news week, I probably would have keeled over at my desk.
What did people say about the story?
I got a variety of responses on social media, email, and text.
A lot of readers were skeptical of the diet itself, suggesting that Buffett just says he eats terribly to appear more down to Earth.
Others asked if I was alright and if my health was still suffering.
Others called me a liar or said I was a wuss or weak for being so rundown by the diet. One college friend said that a two liter of Cherry Coke a day wasn’t even that hard because “it’s just a couple medium soda refills at McDonald’s.”
I got one email taking me to task for the historical accuracy of calling the steak at my final meal a “primitive tomahawk of a caveman” because cavemen didn’t use tomahawks. Because clearly I was going for historical accuracy above all else.
One email claiming Buffett doesn’t eat like he says but instead “simply promotes it to the simpletons so they die faster.”
I even went on a radio show in Montreal to talk about it.
Did you really eat all of that?
There’s no way it was as bad as you describe, right?
There’s also the corollary to this question, see the “you’re such a wimp” responses.
I did focus primarily on the low points in the post, but to be honest it was that bad. I think that’s primarily because I tried to get through the Cherry Coke (a whole two liter) during the work day and I’m not a soda person.
It was kinda fun to eat all of that, right?
I had ice cream at three straight meals, what do you think?
Were your meals all paid for?
To be determined (cough).
Any other celebrity diets you want to try?
Sure, why not? If you got an idea for one let me know, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Has Buffett or anyone at Berkshire Hathaway contacted you since the story came out?
No, but I am very available if Mr. Buffett wants to chat.
Would you do it again?
Dear lord, no.