The best of Charlie Munger

“Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The wit and wisdom of Charles T. Munger” by Charlie Munger and Peter D. Kaufman

If this is a music album, this book would be Charlie Munger’s greatest hits. It comprise of his short biography, followed by testimonials from his family and closest circle, then a closer look into his intellectual framework and the mental models that have shaped his way of thinking and investment decisions, and neatly closed with 11 speeches that define his outlook on life and the market.

Here are some examples of the gems from Munger in the book:

  • When you borrow a man’s car, you always return it with a full thank of gas.
  • Concentrate on the task immediately in front of [you] and to control spending.
  • People make mistakes, the right thing to do is to admit your mistakes.
  • Do the job right the first time.
  • Take a simple idea and take it seriously.
  • We don’t claim to have perfect morals, but at least we have a huge area of things that, while legal, are beneath us.
  • Capitalism without failure is like religion without hell.
  • I’d rather make my money playing piano in a whorehouse than account for options as recommended by John Doerr (he really dislike derivatives).
  • You don’t have to be brilliant, only a little bit wiser than the other guys, on average, for a long, long time.
  • All I want to know is where I’m going to die, so I’ll never go there.
  • A lot of success in life and business comes from knowing what you want to avoid: early death, a bad marriage, etc.
  • Envy is a really stupid sin because it’s the only one you could never possibly have any fun at.
  • I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time. None, zero.
  • The importance of being a reliable person.
  • Roughly half of the army of Adolf Hitler was composed of believing Catholics. Given enough clever psychological manipulation, what human being will do is quite interesting.
  • Just in an ecosystem, people who narrowly specialise can get terribly good at occupying some little niche.
  • Anytime anybody offers you anything with a big commission and a 200 page prospectus, don’t buy it.
  • We don’t leap seven-foot fences. Instead, we look for one-foot fences with big rewards on the other side. So we’ve succeeded by making the world easy for ourselves, not by solving hard problems.
  • Why should we want to play a competitive game in a field where we have no advantage – maybe a disadvantage – instead of in a field where we have a clear advantage?
  • Each of you will have to figure out where your talents lie. And you’ll have to use your advantages. But if you try to succeed in what you’re worst at, you’re going to have a very lousy career.
  • I won’t bet $100 against house odds between now and the grave.
  • I try to get rid of people who always confidently answer questions about which they don’t have any real knowledge.
  • It’s kind of fun for it to be a little complicated. If you want it totally easy and totally laid out, maybe you should join some cult that claims to provide all the answers.
  • The best way to avoid envy is to plainly deserve the success we get.
  • I can’t stand his politics, I’m on the other side. But I love this man’s essays.
  • 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.
  • As a securities investor, you can watch all sorts of business propositions in the form of security prices thrown at you all the time. For the most part, you don’t have to do a thing other than be amused. Once in awhile, you will find a ‘fat pitch that is slow, straight, and right in the middle of your sweet spot. Then you swing hard. This way, no matter what natural ability you start with, you will substantially increase your hitting average. One common problem for investors is that they tend to swing too often. This is true for both individuals and for professional investors operating under institutional imperatives, one version of which drove me out of the conventional long/short hedge fund operation. However, the opposite problem is equally harmful to long-term results: You discover a fat pitch’ but are unable to swing with the full weight of your capital.

In this chaotic and rapidly changing world, where lines are sometimes blurry, Charlie Munger stands out as the calm presence whose values and wisdom should be the benchmark for everyone. And as you can see, this book reveals them all.

It’s no wonder that it becomes an instant classic, simply unmissable!