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March 27, 2011

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Buffett: What's in a name?

IT can be difficult for children of famous and successful people to get out from under the parental shadow and succeed in their own right. And it can be tiresome to be asked about their parents.

But Peter Buffett, second son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett - the Oracle of Omaha - handles it with aplomb.

He is an Emmy Award-winning singer and songwriter with a distinguished career that spans more than 28 years as a pianist and multi-instrumentalist, music producer, composer, author and philanthropist.

Peter Buffet recently arrived in Shanghai on a tour to promote his book "Life is What You Make It" and stage an event, "Concert and Conversation with Peter Buffett" at a hotel in Pudong New Area.

Buffett played piano, Michael Kott played the cello and Buffet spoke about his life experience with the audience, discussing wealth, education and communication issues between wealthy parents and kids.

His message: it's one's values and what one gives back to society that shape and define an individual.

"Even in the US, it's a very fresh idea to combine book promotion with a concert," said Buffett.

"Life Is What You Make It - Finding Your Own Path to Fulfillment" is about following passions over conventions, transcending circumstances or status, taking up the reins of destiny, and living life to its fullest.

Wise words

Buffett calls the messages in the book "the gift for life" from his father.

"Which will you choose: the path of least resistance or the path of potentially greatest satisfaction?" Buffet writes.

Former US President Bill Clinton wrote: "Peter Buffett has given us a wise and inspiring book that should be required reading for every young person seeking to find his or her place in the world, and for every family hoping to give its daughters and sons the best possible start in life."

"People are curious about my stories - my father, our relationships, my experiences and opinion on life; and the book tells them," said Buffett.

"He is a very good father," Buffett said. "The most precious thing he gives me is his good behaviors and actions."

He said that from his father he learned "the most important things in life - to be humble, hard working, loving life and treating everyone the same way."

Many parents tell their children what to do, what not to do, how to behave properly, he said. "But that's a far cry from given them a good model and letting the kids getting those good manners inside."

The presumed pressure of being the son of Warren Buffett is apparently not an issue.

As a renowned musician, Buffett has released 15 records since 1987, and has been signed to such labels as Narada, Epic and Hollywood Records.

"My mom told me that I could sing before I spoke," said Buffett, laughing. "When I started to consider my career, I found there was nothing as meaningful as music ... and I received 100 percent support from my father."

His was the creative mind behind many of the MTV hits of the 1980s and he wrote the music for the fire dance scene in the 1990 Oscar-wining film "Dances with Wolves."

Buffet has been praised for his Native American-inspired music; he composed the full score for "500 Nations," the eight-hour Emmy-winning TV series produced by Kevin Costner.

He also composed the score for the musical production "Spirit: The Seventh Fire," a Native American-inspired show incorporating authentic dance, song and Imax-scale visuals. It premiered on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

Today, Buffet said there's no limit to his destinations.

"I never thought of being a successful person - there's no definition of success," he said.

Early on he established a charity foundation NoVo, and his wife Jennifer is the president. Anti-poverty, anti-hunger and Native American welfare are among his causes.

"To me, wealth comes from inside, including those very important things - love, good relationships and happiness," he said. "I don't check my bank account every morning to see if I am happy or not."

About the Buffett name "pressure," he said, "If you are strong enough inside, pressure doesn't exist, because I know who I am. That's what my father teaches me."


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