Posted on Farnam Street

Who is Charlie Munger? Wit and Wisdom From The World’s Most Irreverent Billionaire

Charlie Munger is one of the great minds of the 20th century. Below is an attempt to capture that wisdom in one shareable place.

Charlie Munger

"Spend each day trying to be a little wiser than you were when you woke up. Discharge your duties faithfully and well. Systematically you get ahead, but not necessarily in fast spurts. Nevertheless, 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."

Charles “Charlie” Munger, a longtime resident of Pasadena, California, is perhaps best known as the Vice Chairman of the world's greatest compound interest machine: Berkshire Hathaway, Inc.

In the time of his and Warren Buffett's reign as the leaders of Berkshire, the company has returned roughly 2,000,000% on its initial value, or 20,000 to 1. This was accomplished in the adult lifetime of two men, simply by investing the capital of the company in an increasing number of prosperous enterprises and without dangerous amounts of borrowing. It is a story for the ages.

Charlie is known as a “sidekick” only to people who don't know him very well. To those who do know him, Charlie is a fiercely independent intellectual who, in the words of his partner Buffett, “Marches to the beat of his own music, and it's music like virtually no one else is listening to.”

Besides his work co-headlining the Berkshire affair and a variety of other business and philanthropic ventures, Charlie is known for his fluent, multidisciplinary mind. Trained as a meteorologist during World War II and as a lawyer at Harvard before devoting himself to business, Munger has drawn heavily from the study of psychology, economics, physics, biology, and history, among other disciplines, in developing his system of “multiple mental models” to cut through difficult problems in complex social systems. It is a system like no other.

As a result, his insights on business and life are unique, rare, and correct with unusual consistency. Speeches and writings made long ago stand up in their logic and validity today as much as when they were written, given their basis in the deeply fundamental wisdom of the world.

Adopting the “Munger” approach to thinking is difficult, as is imitating any genius, but utilizing its core tenets will very quickly begin to remove the cobwebs from your mind. When asked his secret to success, Munger once answered simply “I'm rational.”

Charlie Munger Quotes

If you skillfully follow the multidisciplinary path, you will never wish to come back. It would be like cutting off your hands.”

“Spend each day trying to be a little wiser than you were when you woke up. Discharge your duties faithfully and well. Systematically you get ahead, but not necessarily in fast spurts. Nevertheless, 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.”

It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent.”

Just because you like it does not mean that the world will necessarily give it to you.”

I try to get rid of people who always confidently answer questions about which they don't have any real knowledge.”

I always say I want to know where I would die so I can never go there.”

The iron rule of nature is: You get what you reward for. If you want ants to come, you put sugar on the floor.

We're just not interested in taking a substantial chance of taking a lot of very decent people back to “Go” so we can have one more zero on our net worth.”

I think Warren and I know the edge of our competency better than other people do.”

I paid no attention to the territorial boundaries of academic disciplines and I just grabbed all the big ideas that I could.”

Take a simple idea, and take it seriously.”