Decision makingFocusProductivity

Fake: Warren Buffet’s 25/5 rule – and all the buzz

By June 14, 2021 June 26th, 2021 No Comments

Warren Buffet based his life success on the 25/5 rule. Or actually – the rule never existed, but here’s how you can make it work anyway.

Warren Buffet appalled 37 thousand people when he debunked his own 25/5 rule. The poor journalist that was doing the interview had to hold on to his chair for dear life after he heard this world-class billionaire make that statement.

“Well, I’m more curious about how you came up with it,” said Buffet, with an ironic smile on his face, almost as if he was expecting the journalist to answer him.

“I can’t recall making any type of list in my life.” That’s when Warren Buffet gave his final blow and knocked out years and years of young and old entrepreneurs believing in a story that was made up.

Now, remember, just because the story was fake, doesn’t mean this rule can’t work in real life. People have mentioned this rule in self-improvement books, yet today we will break it down for you in one article so you can easily digest it with your morning coffee.

Don’t buy that croissant today.

The famous – but fake – 25/5 rule story

Enter: Mike Flint, Buffet’s pilot, for 10 years. One day, Warren Buffet was curious how this man worked in the same job as a pilot for 10 years straight. So, he decided to ask Mike: “Why haven’t you done anything better with your life?”

After having a word with his pilot, Warren Buffet went on to give him a piece of advice that would change his life. He asked Mike to write down a list of 25 things that he wanted to accomplish in life. Then, he advised him to focus only on the top 5, most important things on the list, and cross out the rest. This way, he would focus only on what truly mattered to him and not waste his time with other, non-significant activities.

So, Mike took this advice a little bit too seriously, and he went on to become the greatest pilot that everyone had ever seen. He learned how to fly a spaceship and when he got very good at the 25/5 rule, he hopped on his spaceship and transcended into another, fairytale dimension, full of candy houses and magic elves. Except that… fairytales don’t exist, and this story is about as real as magic elves.

The only real version of the 25/5 rule

The story was made up by Scott Dinsmore, the CEO of the career development platform, Live Your Legend. He published a blog where he mentioned that he met a guy who was close to this pilot and then went on to speak about the 25/5 rule.

How do we know this? Enter: Alex Banayan, the author of The Third Door. It’s 2013 and Alex starts a quest to interview the world’s most successful people, how they launched their careers. He took a flight to Omaha, Nebraska, where Berkshire Hathaway’s shareholders were having a meeting. Somehow, Alex managed to sit down with Warren Buffet for a Q&A session.

When the time was right, Alex took the spotlight, and finally found the guts to ask Warren Buffet about his famous 25/5 rule. He was baffled by what he was about to hear next.

“To be honest, I’m more curious to know how you came up with this rule.”

The audience exploded in laughter as Alex was trying to stuff his guts back into his mouth. Buffet continues to explain how, along with his business partner, Charlie Munger, they lacked the discipline to even sit down and make a list, let alone cross things out.

Fairy-tales aside, the rule works

Okay, so Warren Buffet never had such a life rule. Maybe he never even had a personal pilot. So what? Does that mean that you should drop your suitcase from a bridge and then jump off yourself after you have loosened up your tie? Does all of this make the rule invalid?


Mate, listen, you got me in my British vibes here okay. The validity of the rule relies solely on the person who decides to use it. It takes a huge load of discipline and personal will to be able to list 25 things that you want to accomplish in life and then cross out the 20 things that aren’t that important.

Bungee Jumping from a helicopter at the Grand Canyon, just like Will Smith? Ughhh… sorry, I have to cross you out. I got that trip to Egypt that sounds more fun.

But for real though, the 25/5 rule will help you clarify your life and career goals. Eventually, you are going to focus your attention on the things that matter the most. A lot of successful people do apply this rule to their lives and it has proven to work.

Remember, the one thing that makes the difference between those who succeed and those who don’t isn’t the 25/5 rule. It’s the one thing that Warren Buffett said in his own words: “The ability to say No to almost everything.”


Are you currently saying yes to most things coming your way? We tend to have a hard time saying no to people when they present an “opportunity” to us. That’s why we get stuck with billions of things to do that task our minds 24/7. The 25/5 rule is like an exercise, to learn how to say no to most things in your life and increase your productivity only for the things that matter the most.

Next time, ask yourself: “What are the 20 things that I can skip for this month that won’t affect my life that much?” Then ask yourself again: “What are the 5 things that I must do for this whole month that will make my life a lot better?” Try this out for yourself. You will start seeing an increase in productivity and only spend your time on things that will have a positive impact on your life.

Which of these techniques are you going to use?

Kim Hvidkjaer

Kim Hvidkjaer

I’m a father, author, speaker as well as multi-disciplinary serial entrepreneur and investor. I started my first company at age 19, and have built and invested in companies in innumerable industries.

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap