29 Brilliant Quotes About Life And Investing By Charlie Munger

Charlie Munger dropped out of college, served as a meteorologist in the US Army Air Corps, and attended Harvard Law.

And then at age 31, he met Warren Buffett, who convinced him to go into investing.

Today, Munger is Warren Buffett’s right-hand man at Berkshire Hathaway and has an estimated net worth of $1.3 billion.

We’ve compiled a list of his most insightful quotes about business, investing, and life in general.

So step inside the mind of one of the most brilliant investors alive today.

Those who keep learning, will keep rising in life.

'I constantly see people rise in life who are not the smartest, sometimes not even the most diligent, 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.'

Source: Charlie Munger USC Law Commencement Speech, May 2007

At a certain point, you have to suck it up and cope.

'There's danger in just shoveling out money to people who say, 'My life is a little harder than it used to be. At a certain place you've got to say to the people, 'Suck it in and cope, buddy. Suck it in and cope.''

Source: University of Michigan discussion

Life has terrible and unfair blows. Utilise them in a constructive fashion.

'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. And there I think the attitude of Epictetus is the best. He thought that every missed chance in life was an opportunity to behave well, every missed chance in life was an opportunity to learn something, and that your duty was not to be submerged in self-pity, but to utilise the terrible blow in constructive fashion. That is a very good idea.'

Source: Charlie Munger USC Law Commencement Speech, May 2007

There's a lot of stupidity on the part of major philanthropic groups.

'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.'

Source: University of Michigan discussion

Don't overspend. Even Mozart couldn't get away with doing that.

'Another thing that does one in, of course, is the self-serving bias to which we're all subject. You think the 'True Little Me' is entitled to do what it wants to do. And, for instance, why shouldn't the True Little Me overspend my income. There once was a man who became the most famous composer in the world but was utterly miserable most of the time, and one of the reasons was because he always overspent his income. That was Mozart. If Mozart can't get by with this kind of asinine conduct, I don't think you should try.'

Source: Charlie Munger USC Law Commencement Speech, May 2007

Avoid extremely intense ideology because it ruins your mind.

'Another thing I think should be avoided is extremely intense ideology because it cabbages up one's mind. ... When you're young it's easy to drift into loyalties and when you announce that you're a loyal member and you start shouting the orthodox ideology out, what you're doing is pounding it in, pounding it in, and you're gradually ruining your mind.'

Source: Charlie Munger USC Law Commencement Speech, May 2007

Keep it simple.


'One of the greatest ways to avoid trouble is to keep it simple. When you make it vastly complicated -- and only a few high priests in each department can pretend to understand it -- what you're going to find all too often is that those high priests don't really understand it at all…. The system often goes out of control.'

Source: Wesco Financial annual meeting, 2008 (quoted in Stanford Business School paper)

Optimistic accounting leads to 99% of problems.

'Ninety-nice per cent of the troubles that threaten our civilisation come from too optimistic accounting. And yet these damn accountants with their desire for mathematical purity want to devote exactly as much attention to accounting that is too pessimistic as they do to accounting that is too optimistic -- which is crazy. Ninety-nie per cent of the problems come from being too optimistic. Therefore, we should have a system where the accounting is way more conservative.'

Source: University of Michigan discussion

People who rise high enough in business have a moral duty to be underpaid.

'People should take way less than they're worth when they are favoured by life... I would argue that when you rise high enough in American business, you've got a moral duty to be underpaid -- not to get all that you can, but to actually be underpaid.'

Source: Wesco Financial annual meeting, 2008 (quoted in Stanford Business School paper)

Only those who are willing to leave at any point should hold high level corporate jobs.

''No man is fit to hold office who isn't perfectly willing to leave it at any time,'... I think that ought to be more the test in corporate directorships. Is a man really fit to make tough calls who isn't willing to leave the office at any time? My answer is no.'

Source: Berkshire Hathaway 1995 Annual Meeting (quoted in Stanford Business School paper)

'One solution fits all' doesn't work.

''One solution fits all' is not the way to go. All these cultures are different. The right culture for the Mayo Clinic is different from the right culture at a Hollywood movie studio. You can't run all these places with a cookie-cutter solution.'

Source: Stanford University Director's College, June 26, 2006. (quoted in Stanford Business School paper)

Many successful organisations have fewer (rather than more) controls.

'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 result in the world. Well, Berkshire has had practically no process. We had hardly any internal auditing until they forced it on us. We just try to operate in a seamless web of deserved trust and be careful whom we trust.'

Source: Wesco Financial annual meeting, 2007 (quoted in Stanford Business School paper)

Deserved trust is the most important thing.

'The highest form that civilisation can reach is a seamless web of deserved trust -- not much procedure, just totally reliable people correctly trusting one another. ... In your own life what you want is a seamless web of deserved trust. And if your proposed marriage contract has forty-seven pages, I suggest you not enter.'

Source: Wesco Financial annual meeting, 2008 (quoted in Stanford Business School paper)

Great investing requires a lot of delayed gratification.

'It's waiting that helps you as an investor, and a lot of people just can't stand to wait. If you didn't get the deferred-gratification gene, you've got to work very hard to overcome that.'

Source: The Wall Street Journal

He wanted to be rich in order to be independent.

'Like Warren, I had a considerable passion to get rich, not because I wanted Ferrari's -- I wanted the independence. I desperately wanted it.'

Source: Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist

School is not a prerequisite.

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

Source: Forbes

He learned by reading, not schooling.

'I met the towering intellectuals in books, not in the classroom, which is natural. I can't remember when I first read Ben Franklin. I had Thomas Jefferson over my bed at seven or eight. My family was into all that stuff, getting ahead through discipline, knowledge, and self-control.'

Source: Damn Right!: Behind the Scenes with Berkshire Hathaway Billionaire Charlie Munger

CEOs should be 'empowered' to make decisions without extensive review by the board of directors.

'When you have a really complicated place and a good CEO, you want him to have power to speak for the place in dealing with outsiders.... Berkshire Hathaway of course is raised that way. Can you imagine Warren Buffett saying to somebody, 'Well I'm sorry I have to go back and check with my directors?' I mean, of course he has to go back to check with his directors, but he knows what they're going to say, and everybody knows that what he says is going to govern.'

Source: Stanford University Director's College. (quoted in Stanford Business School paper)

Even Ben Graham had a lot to learn as an investor.

Benjamin Graham

'I don't love Ben Graham and his ideas the way Warren does. You have to understand, to Warren -- who discovered him at such a young age and then went to work for him -- Ben Graham's insights changed his whole life, and he spent much of his early years worshiping the master at close range. But I have to say, Ben Graham had a lot to learn as an investor. His ideas of how to value companies were all shaped by how the Great Crash and the Depression almost destroyed him, and he was always a little afraid of what the market can do. It left him with an aftermath of fear for the rest of his life, and all his methods were designed to keep that at bay.'

Source: The Wall Street Journal

The bailouts should have been ever bigger.

Ben Bernanke

'Hit the economy with enough misery and enough disruption, destroy the currency, and God knows what happens. So I think when you have troubles like that you shouldn't be bitching about a little bailout. You should have been thinking it should have been bigger.'

Source: University of Michigan discussion

The fortunate should give back.

'Those of us who have been very 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.'

Source: Poor Charlie's Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charlie T. Munger

Regarding quick trading of derivatives and stocks.

It's like the slaughter of the innocents. It makes the people who run Las Vegas seem like good people.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

On Wall Street.

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

Source: Forbes

And his closing advice is...

'In the end I'm like an Old Valiant for Truth in The Pilgrim's Progress: 'My sword I leave to him who can wear it.''

Source: Charlie Munger USC Law Commencement Speech, May 2007

BONUS: Some additional Munger zingers.

On global warming: 'So what we are really talking about with global warming is dislocation. Dislocations could cause agony though. The sea level rising would be resolved with enough time and enough capital. I don't think it's an utter calamity for mankind though. You'd have to be a pot-smoking journalism to think that.'

Regarding Buffett's cancer diagnosis: 'I regarded it as a total non-event. I would bet a lot of money that I have more than he does, I don't event allow them to check for it. … So when my doctor puts down PSA test I just cross it out.'

On Donald Trump (according to Andrew Ross Sorkin): 'Obviously I think he's a jerk.'

On buying gold: 'I think gold is a great thing to sew in to your garments if you're a Jewish family in Vienna in 1939 but I think civilized people don't buy gold.'

On Bitcoin: 'I think it's rat poison.'

On bankers: 'I do not think you can trust bankers to control themselves. They are like heroin addicts.'

And on investment banking in general: 'There's more honour in investment management than in investment banking.'

And how he will be remembered: I may be remembered as a wise arse.

BONUS: Warren Buffett wants to be remembered as a teacher, not a businessman.

'And I like to ask Warren what he wants to be remembered as, and he says a teacher. Who else in America who is a CEO says he wants to be remembered as a teacher? I like it.'

Source: CNBC interview

And now... check out the other Berkshire Hathaway's other major titan.

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