Thank you Charlie MungerDec 03, 2023
A bit of an unusual email today.
Charlie Munger, the long time partner of Warren Buffett, passed away this week.
At 99, he lived an amazing life.
He earned the respect of the people he respected, surrounded himself with friends and family, did everything he could to teach others to be successful, and achieved great wealth.
The book containing a compilation of his public speeches, Poor Charlie's Almanack, has had a profound influence on me.
I've read it at least 15 times.
In the spirit of a "thank you" to Charlie for the knowledge he shared with me (and the rest of the world) through the book, I thought I'd share some of my favorite quotes.
After I got started choosing I found it hard to stop, so feel free to choose one or two, that stick out!
Charlie Munger Quotes
"In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn't read all the time---none, zero. You'd be amazed how much Warren reads---and how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I'm a book with a couple of legs sticking out."
"I am a biography nut myself. And I think when you're trying to teach the great concepts that work, it helps to tie them into the lives and personalities of the people who developed them. I think you learn economics better if you make Adam Smith your friend. That sounds funny, making friends among the 'eminent dead', but if you go through life making friends with the eminent dead who had the right ideas, I think it will work better for you in life and work better in education. It's way better than just giving the basic concepts."
"You must know the big ideas in the big disciplines and use them routinely---all of them, not just a few. Most people are trained in one model---economics, for example---and try to solve all problems in one way. You know the old saying: 'To the man with a hammer, the world looks like a nail.' This is a dumb way of handling problems."
"I think track records are very important. If you start early trying to have a perfect one in some simple thing like honesty, you're well on your way to success in this world."
"It never ceases to amaze me to see how much territory can be grasped if one merely masters and consistently uses all the obvious and easily learned principles."
"Spend each day trying to be a little wiser than you were when you woke up. Discharge your duties faithfully and well. Step by step you get ahead, but not necessarily in fast spurts. But you build discipline by preparing for fast spurts.... Slug it out one inch at a time, day by day. At the end of the day---if you live long enough---most people get what they deserve."
"Invert, always invert. It is in the nature of things, as Jacobi knew, that many hard problems are best solved when they are addressed backwards."
"Let me use a little inversion now. What will really fail in life? What do we want to avoid? Some answers are easy. For example, sloth and unreliability. If you're unreliable it doesn't matter what your virtues are, you're going to crater immediately. So, faithfully doing what you've engaged to do should be an automatic part of your conduct. Of course you want to avoid sloth and unreliability."
"Another thing to avoid is extremely intense ideology because it cabbages up one's mind...And if you're young it's particularly easy to drift into intense political ideology and never get out. When you announce that you're a loyal member of some cult-like group and you start shouting out the orthodox ideology, what you're doing is pounding it in, pounding it in. You're ruining your mind, sometimes with startling speed."
"Just as in an ecosystem, people who narrowly specialize can get terribly good at occupying some little niche. Just as animals flourish in niches, similarly, people who specialize in the business world---and get very good because they specialize---frequently find good economics that they wouldn't get any other way."
"What are the core ideas that helped me? Well, luckily I had the idea at a very early age that the safest way to try to get what you want is to try to deserve what you want. It's such a simple idea. It's the golden rule. You want to deliver to the world what you would buy if you were on the other end. There is no ethos in my opinion that is better for any lawyer or any other person to have."
"Another thing that I have found is that intense interest in any subject is indispensable if you're really going to excel in it. I could force myself to be fairly good in a lot of things, but I couldn't excel in anything in which I didn't have an intense interest."
"Another thing to cope with is that life is very likely to provide terrible blows, unfair blows. Some people recover, and others don't. And there I think the attitude of Epictetus helps guide one to the right reaction. He thought that every mischance in life, however bad, created an opportunity to behave well. He believed every mischance provided an opportunity to learn something useful. And one's duty was not to become immersed in self-pity, but to utilize each terrible blow in constructive fashion."
"Well, there once was a man who became the most famous composer in the world. But he was utterly miserable most of the time. And one of the reasons was that he always overspent his income. That was Mozart. If Mozart couldn't get by with this kind of asinine conduct, I don't think you should try it."
I could keep adding, but I'll stop here.
Charlie's thinking changed my world view more than any other person, and I thought sharing his wisdom with you might help you too.
Have a great weekend!
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