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Fortune’s top stories of 2013–and Buffett’s advice

FORTUNE — I’m not sure what it means that the three most popular stories on Fortune.com in 2013 were, in order, “11 top perks from Best Companies,” “Former Amazon star killed in bike accident” and “Warren Buffett is bullish on…women.”

But I like that this lineup of top stories, based on unique visitors, is about lives and careers rather than gadgets or gear or growth strategies.

It’s no surprise that “Top perks” was supremely clickable, since work and personal life intermingle these days. Everybody wants more than a job, and companies face immense pressure to make employees feel good—as they push us to do three jobs instead of one.

It is startling, though, to see at No. 2 my piece about the death of Joy Covey, who was Amazon.com’s CFO in its startup days. Covey was extraordinary in life and in death. She dropped out of high school, used her 173 IQ to get to Harvard Business School, helped CEO Jeff Bezos take Amazon public, climbed Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women list, and soon quit corporate life to be a mom, philanthropist and practitioner of extreme sports. I knew Covey, who was 50, well but never well enough. My story about her fatal bike crash in Silicon Valley this past September traveled far beyond the tech and cycling worlds.

I never imagined that Warren Buffett’s essay on women would turn out to be one of Fortune’s best-read pieces of the year. The Berkshire Hathaway boss phoned me last March, in the wake of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s heavy-duty book promotion for Lean In. “This talk about women won’t stop!” Buffett said. He told me that he had written a piece about women and asked if we might want to publish it. Sure thing. His essay, which reflects the deft touch of my Fortune colleague Carol Loomis as well as deputy managing editor Stephanie Mehta, is more than just wise: its fresh and unique insights expanded the conversation about why women aren’t advancing to the top quickly enough. Thanks to Buffett joining Twitter during a live online chat that I did with him, his essay exploded across the web.

During that chat in Omaha last May, Buffett was asked “How do you define success?” His answer is worth remembering as we move into the new year. “If the people who you want to have love you love you, you’re a success,” said the ever-rational billionaire. “You can have all the money in the world, you can have buildings named after you, and unless you’ve got people who really care about you, you are not a success.”

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