I’m Thinking about Having an Auction: “Breakfast with Jim Borden”

For the past 18 years, Warren Buffett has held a charity auction, and the winner, along with up to seven of his or her friends, gets to have lunch with Mr. Buffett at the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse in New York.

The winning bid from this year’s auction, which ended this past Friday, was $2,679,001, which was lower than the record $3,456,789 bid in similar auctions in 2012 and 2016.

Over the past 18 years, the auction has raised over $25 million for the charity Glide, which offers free meals, health care and other services to homeless and low-income people in San Francisco.

I can’t imagine having that kind of disposable income, spending over $2 million for lunch. I like to keep my lunch bill under $2.00.

But sometimes, there might be a payback from such an investment.

Ted Weschler won the auction twice when he was a hedge-fund manager, paying more than $2 million each time. Mr. Weschler was later hired by Mr. Buffett to help run Berkshire’s investments. He and Berkshire’s other portfolio manager, Todd Combs, are expected to take over all of Berkshire’s stock investments after Mr. Buffett steps down.

So it got me thinking; maybe I should start an auction of my own, with the winner getting to spend four hours one morning with me. Of course this would not be a charity auction, unless you think of the Borden family as a charity.

The day would start with a personalized workout, and would feature a combination of cardio, strength training, stretching, and foam rolling.

After the workout, it would be time for breakfast, and my breakfast – a green smoothie – would be a lot healthier than lunch at a steakhouse.

The smoothie would consist of bananas, lettuce, kale, spinach, blueberries, strawberries, protein powder, and chia seeds. It’s the perfect recovery drink from the invigorating workout, and would provide an energy boost for the next several hours.

During breakfast, we could talk about any topic the winner would like; sports, politics, business, the weather, the meaning of life, etc. I would need to know in advance some of the topics the winner would like to discuss so that I can prep accordingly, and if necessary, bring on some subject matter experts.

After breakfast, I would offer a comprehensive financial planning session. The basic gist of the plan will be to put all of your retirement savings into a low cost index fund, like Vanguard’s S&P 500 fund, but I’ll try and make it sound more complicated than that.

The four-hour session will close with a hands-on tutorial on how to juggle and how to make balloon animals. The tutorial will come with a guarantee that you will be able to juggle three balls and make a balloon poodle by the end of the session, or I will offer the tutorial again, at no cost, as often as necessary until you do master such skills.

(Note that if the auction raises over $1 million, I will also include a lunch of oatmeal with almond milk, cinnamon, and blueberries).

So there you have it. I think if you compare what Buffett is offering the winner of his auction versus what I am offering, I think you will clearly see that there is no comparison.

And while Buffett’s auction has an opening bid of $25,000, I would start mine at $25 (to cover the cost of the smoothie and the balloons). If you are a fan of Buffett’s, you know that he is a value investor, and if you do any type of analysis, you will discover that my auction is offering a better value.

So be on the lookout for my auction; perhaps April 1 might be the perfect day to run it…


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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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