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99 Life Lessons from Charlie Munger

“In ‘Life Lessons from Charlie Munger,’ we encounter a wealth of straightforward, impactful advice that cuts through the noise of our everyday lives. Munger’s approach to life, distilled into these lessons, emphasizes the importance of clear thinking, patience, and learning from the inevitable mistakes we all make.
99 Life Lessons From Charlie Munger

“In ‘Life Lessons from Charlie Munger,’ we encounter a wealth of straightforward, impactful advice that cuts through the noise of our everyday lives. Munger’s approach to life, distilled into these lessons, emphasizes the importance of clear thinking, patience, and learning from our inevitable mistakes. One key lesson is the value of continuous self-improvement, a principle Munger lives by. He famously said, ‘Spend each day trying to be a little wiser than you were when you woke up.’ This simple yet profound philosophy underscores much of Munger’s approach to life and investing. By adopting a mindset focused on personal growth and understanding, we position ourselves for business success and a more fulfilling and insightful life.”

1. The big money is not in buying or selling, but in the waiting.

2. Investing is where you find a few great companies and then sit on your ass.

3. Like Warren, I had a considerable passion to get rich, not because I wanted Ferrari’s – I wanted independence. I desperately wanted it.

4. We have a passion for keeping things simple.

5. Assume life will be really tough, and then ask if you can handle it. If the answer is yes, you’ve won.

6. Think of the basic intellectual dishonesty that comes when you start talking about adjusted EBITDA. You’re almost announcing you’re a flake.

7. If investing wasn’t hard, everyone would be rich.

8. You don’t have to be brilliant, only a little bit wiser than the other guys, on average, for a long, long time.

9. The desire to get rich fast is pretty dangerous.

10. Those who keep learning will keep rising in life.

11. There is no way you can live an adequate life without making mistakes.

12. Acknowledging what you don’t know is the dawning of wisdom.·

13. No wise pilot, no matter how great his talent and experience, fails to use a checklist.

14. There is no better teacher than history in determining the future. There are answers worth billions of dollars in 30$ history books.

15. A lot of people with high IQs are terrible investors because they’ve got terrible temperaments.

16. It’s waiting that helps you as an investor and a lot of people just can’t stand to wait.

17. A lot of success in life and business comes from knowing what you want to avoid: early death, a bad marriage, …

18. One of the greatest ways to avoid trouble is to keep it simple… the system often goes out of control.

19. Knowing what you don’t know is more useful than being brilliant.

20. If a business earns 18% on capital over 20 or 30 years, even if you pay an expensive looking price, you’ll end up with a fine result.

21. Forgetting your mistakes is a terrible error if you’re trying to improve your cognition. Reality doesn’t remind you. Why not celebrate stupidities in both categories?

22. You need patience, discipline, and agility to take losses and adversity without going crazy.

23. Everywhere there is a large commission, there is a high probability of a rip-off.

24. It takes character to sit with all that cash and to do nothing. I didn’t get to the top where I am by going after mediocre opportunities.

25. We both (Warren Buffett) insist on a lot of time being available almost every day to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. We read and think.

26. Another thing, of course, is that life will have terrible blows in it, horrible blows, unfair blows. It doesn’t matter. And some people recover and others don’t.

27. Live within your income and save so you can invest. Learn what you need to learn.

28. Develop into a lifelong self-learner through voracious reading; cultivate curiosity and strive to become a little wiser every day.

29. I would argue that passion is more important than brainpower.

30. A great business at a fair price is superior to a fair business at a great price.

31. Our game is to recognize a big idea when it comes along when one doesn’t come along very often.

32. Simplicity has a way of improving performance by enabling us to better understand what we are doing.

33. In my whole life, I have known no wise people who didn’t read all the time – none, zero. You’d be amazed at how much Warren reads -at how much I read. They think I’m a book with a couple of legs sticking out.

34. Remember that reputation and integrity are your most valuable assets and can be lost in a heartbeat.

35. We recognized early on that smart people do very dumb things, and we wanted to know why and who, so that we could avoid them.

36. I met the towering intellectuals in books, not in classroom, which is natural. My family was into all that stuff, getting ahead through discipline, knowledge, and self-control.

37. Some people are extraordinarily good at knowing the limits of their knowledge because they have to be.

38. Opportunity comes to the prepared mind.

39. To this day, I have never taken a course anywhere, in chemistry, economics, psychology, or business.

40. If something is too hard, we move on to something else. What could be more simpler than that?

41. The best thing a human can do is to help another human being know more.

42. Most people are too fretful, they worry too much. Success means being very patient, but aggressive when it’s time.

43. The first rule of compounding: Never interrupt it unnecessarily.

44. I think that one should recognize the reality even when one doesn’t like it; indeed, especially when one doesn’t like it.

45. One person told me,”I have a list of 300 potentially attractive stocks & I constantly track them, waiting for just one of them to get cheap enough to buy.” Well, that’s a reasonable thing to do. But how many people have that kind of discipline? Not one in 100.

46. People calculate too much and think too little. Thinking is a surprisingly underrated activity in investing. People who cannot be alone with their own thoughts for a long time are terrible candidates to become successful investors.

47. We don’t care about quarterly earnings and are unwilling to manipulate in any way to make some quarter look better.

48. To get what you want, you have to deserve what you want. The world is not yet a crazy enough place to reward a whole bunch of undeserving people.

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

50. All I want to know is where I’m going to die so I’ll never go there.

51. Spend each day trying to be a little wiser than you were when you woke up. Day by day, and at the end of the day-if you live long enough-like most people, you will get out of life what you deserve.

52. The best armor of old age is a well-spent life perfecting it.

53. How to find a good spouse? The best single way is to deserve a good spouse.

54. Two thirds of acquisitions don’t work. Ours work because we don’t try to do acquisitions — we wait for no-brainers.

55. We all are learning, modifying, or destroying ideas all the time. Rapid destruction of your ideas when the time is right is one of the most valuable qualities you can acquire. You must force yourself to consider arguments on the other side.

56. I constantly see people rise in life who are not the smartest, but they are learning machines. They go to bed every night a little wiser than they were when they got up and boy does that help, particularly when you have a long run ahead of you.

57. Envy is a really stupid sin because it’s the only one you could never possibly have fun at. There’s a lot of pain and no fun. Why would you want that?

58. I think that, every time you see the word EBITDA, you should substitute EBITDA with ‘bullshit earnings’.

59. Warren talks about these discounted cash flows. I’ve never seen him do one.

60. Own your work and compound credibility.

61. Being something and doing something that no one had done before are two different things.

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

63. Those of us who have been fortunate have a duty to give back. Whether one gives a lot as one goes along as I do, or a little and then a lot (when one dies) as Warren does, is a matter of personal preference.

64. We have three baskets for investing: yes, no, and too tough to understand.

65. All intelligent investing is value investing, acquiring more than you are paying for.

66. When you borrow a man’s car, always return it with a tank of gas.

67. Wall Street has too much wealth and political power.

68. … the most famous composer in the world but was utterly miserable most of the time, and of the reasons was because he always overspent his income. This was Mozart. If Mozart couldn’t get by with this kind of asinine conduct, I don’t think you should try.

69. People should take away less than they’re worth when they are favored by life… I would argue that when you rise high enough in American Business you’ve got a moral duty to be underpaid

70. Invert, always invert: Turn a situation or problem upside down. Look at it backward.

71. Part of what you must learn is how to handle mistakes and new facts that change the odds. Life, in part, is like a poker game wherein you have to learn to quit sometimes when holding a much-loved hand.

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

73. You must force yourself to consider opposing arguments. Especially when they challenge your best-loved ideas.

74. You don’t have to have the ability that quantum mechanics requires. You just have to know a few simple things and really know them.

75. I think that one should recognize the reality even when one doesn’t like it; indeed, especially when one doesn’t like it.

76. You should avoid sloth and unreliability.

77. 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 intelligent.

78. The habit of committing far more time to learning and thinking than to doing is no accident.

79. I believe in the discipline of mastering the best that other people have ever figured out. I don’t believe in just sitting down and trying to dream it all up yourself.

80. A majority of life’s errors are caused by forgetting what one is really trying to do. Just the discipline of having to put your thoughts in order with somebody else is very useful.

81. Generally speaking, envy, resentment, and self-pity are disastrous modes of thoughts.

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

83. Self-pity gets fairly close to paranoia, and paranoia is one of the very hardest things to reverse.

84. We say that having a certain kind of temperament is more important than brains. You need to keep raw irrational emotion under control.

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

86. It’s the work on your desk. Do well with what you already have and more will come in.

87. The great algorithm to remember in dealing with this tendency is simple: an idea or a fact is not worth more merely because it’s easily available to you.

88. The liabilities are always 100 percent good. It’s the assets you have to worry about.

89. Ninety-nine percent of the troubles that threaten our civilization come from being too optimistic, therefore we should have a system where the accounting is a way more conservative.

90. I think we have some special talents. That being said, I think it’s dangerous to rely on special talents — it’s better to own lots of monopolistic businesses with unregulated prices.

91. I’ve seen so much folly and stupidity on the part of our major philanthropic groups, including the world bank. I really have more confidence in building up the more capitalistic ventures like Costco.

92. What is the secret of success? I’m rational. That’s the answer. I’m rational. It’s not possible for investors to consistently outperform the market. Therefore you’re best served investing in a diversified portfolio of low-cost index funds [or exchange-traded funds].

93. A lot of people think if you just had more process and more compliance- checks and double-checks and so forth-you could create a better world. We just try to operate in a seamless web of deserved trust and be careful of whom we trust.

94. Mimicking the herd invites regression to the mean.

95. Is there such a thing as a cheerful pessimist? That’s what I am.

96. If you don’t get this elementary, but mildly unnatural, mathematics of elementary probability into your repertoire, then you go through a long life like a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest.

97. There is more money to be made from law, but less time to enjoy it.

98. Don’t drift into self-pity because it doesn’t solve any problems.

99. Always take the high road, it’s far less crowded.

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