This fall, your children can watch Warren Buffett, America's greatest investor, imparting his wisdom online from AOL. But the Oracle of Omaha might look a little different that you remember him -- he'll be appearing as a cartoon.
The online animated series, called "Secret Millionaire's Club," will feature Buffett mentoring a group of children as they try to turn the Omaha Candy Company into a successful business. In an interview with CNNMoney.com's Poppy Harlow, Buffett talked about how everyone's financial habits are learned early, and how he wanted to teach kids good habits early. "It's just as easy to pick up good habits as bad habits, but you have to be exposed to them," said Buffett. "And what better way than to tell them through stories that entertain them at the same time?" [cnnmoney-video vid=/video/news/2009/07/24/n_buffett_cartoon.cnnmoney/]
He has enough nuggets from his letters and speeches to fill at least ten episodes: "Derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction." "Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful." "Our favorite holding period is forever." "When investing, pessimism is your friend, euphoria the enemy.
You can watch a sneak peek of the AOL program online. (AOL is majority-owned by Money's parent, Time Warner.)
While Buffett definitely is sending the right message, the title of the series, unfortunately, sends the wrong one. "Secret Millionaire's Club" sounds as greed-driven as a sequel to "Liar's Poker." Selling success as a exclusive club conjures up memories of bankers speaking in an arcane language of credit-default swaps and mortgage-backed securities that the rest of us didn't understand. Why does Buffett's approach to good money habits have to be presented as a secret? Although Buffett is a master at investing, he's the antithesis of the Wall Street Master of the Universe with a secret formula -- you know, the kind that blows up the economy in the end.
Buffett's always been noted as a champion of philanthropy, and I'm curious to see how much that aspect of his life will be present in the show. (His $37 billion donation to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is still thought to be the largest charitable contribution ever.) For those who do make it to the top, he has this advice: "If you're in the luckiest 1 per cent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 per cent."
Wouldn't it be more fitting with Mr. Buffett's philosophy and the current needs of this country if the show were named "The Not-Secret Long-Term, Patient, Slow-But-Steady-Growing, Don't-Buy-It-Unless-You-Can-Afford-It, Common-Sense Club?"
Doesn't really have the same ring to it, does it?