Munger’s Wit and Wisdom

Take a simple idea, take it seriously.

Another thing you have to do is have a lot of assiduity. I like that word because to me it means: “Sit down on your ass until you do it.

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. So to some extent you’re going to have to do as I did. If at all feasible, you want to maneuver yourself into doing something in which you have an intense interest.

You particularly want to avoid working directly under somebody you don’t admire and don’t want to be like.

In life, getting what you want is simple, become deserving of it.

The last idea that I want to give to you, as you go out into a profession that frequently puts a lot of procedure and some mumbo jumbo into what it does, is that complex bureaucratic procedure does not represent the highest reach. One higher form is a seamless, non-bureaucratic web of deserved trust. Not much fancy procedure, just totally reliable people correctly trusting one another. ‘that’s the way an operating room works at the Mayo Clinic.

If your proposed marriage contract has 47 pages, my suggestion is that you not enter.

The quantity of man’s pleasure from a ten dollar gain does not exactly match the quantity of his displeasure from a ten-dollar loss. That is, the loss seems to hurt much more than the gain seems to help.

Charlie’s Book Recommendations

  • Deep Simplicity: Bringing Order to Chaos and Complexity John Gribbin, Random House (2005)
  • F.F.1.A.S.C.O.: The Inside Story of a Wall Street Trader Frank Partnoy, Penguin Books (1999)
  • Ice Age John & Mary Gribbin, Barnes & Noble (2002)
  • How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe’s Poorest Nation Created Our World & Everything in It Arthur Herman, Three Rivers Press (2002)
  • Models of My Life Herbert A. Simon The MIT Press (1996)
  • A Matter of Degrees: What Temperature Reveals About the Past and Future of Our Species, Planet, and Universe Gino Segre, Viking Books (2002)
  • Andrew Carnegie Joseph Frazier Wall, Oxford University Press (1970)
  • Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies Jared M. Diamond, W. W. Norton & Company
  • The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal Jared Nt[. Diamond, Perennial (1992)
  • Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion Robert B. Cialdini, Perennial Currents (1998)
  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin Benjamin franklin, Yale Nota Bene (2003)
  • Living Within Limits: Ecology, Economics, and Population Taboos Garrett Hardin, Oxford University Press (1995)
  • The Selfish Gene Richard Dawkins, Oxford University Press (1990)
  • Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller Sr. Ron Chernow, Vintage (2004)
  • The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor David S. f,andes, W. W Norton & Company (1998)
  • The Warren Buffett Portfolio: Mastering the Power of the Focus Investment
  • Strategist Robert G. Hagstrom, Wiley (2000)
  • Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters Matt Ridley, Harper Collins Publishers (2000)
  • Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giz.ting In Roger Fisher,
  • William, and Bruce Patton, Penguin Books
  • Three Scientists and Their Gods: Looking for Meaning in an Age of Information Robert Wright, Harper Collins Publishers (1989)
  • Only the Paranoid Survive Andy Grove, Currency (1996)”

Source: Poor Charlie’s Almanac

in Life | 568 Words

Deep Focus

“Great men seem to us men of boldness; In reality they are more obedient than others. The sovereign voice speaks to them. It is because they are actuated by an instinct which is a prompting of that sovereign voice that they take, always with courage and sometimes with great humility, the place that posterity will later give them – venturing on acts and risking inventions often out of harmony with their time and place and even incurring much sarcasm from their fellows. They are not afraid because, however isolated they may appear to be, they feel that they are not alone. They have on their side the power that finally settles everything. They have a premonition of their empire to come.”Antonin Sertillanges The Intellectual Life

“Weak work or pretentious work is always bad work”

“All roads but one are bad roads for you, since they diverge from the direction in which your action is expected and required.”

“To get something without paying for it is the universal desire. But it is the desire of the cowardly hearts and weak brains.”

“Constraint will make you concentrate better”

in Life | 188 Words


Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. –Viktor Frankl

Excerpts from “Man’s Search For Meaning” by Viktor Frankl

“If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a
meaning in suffering. “

“To live is to suffer, to survive is to find meaning in the suffering. If there is a purpose in life at all, there must be a purpose in suffer­ing and in dying. But no man can tell another what this purpose is. Each must find out for himself, and must accept the responsibility that his answer prescribes.”

“Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death, human life cannot be complete.

The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity—even under the most difficult circumstances—to add a deeper meaning to his life. It may remain brave, dignified and unselfish. Or in the bitter fight for self preservation he may forget his human dignity and become no more than an animal. Here lies the chance for a man either to make use of or to forgo the opportunities of attaining the moral values that a difficult situation may afford him. And this decides whether he is worthy of his sufferings or not.”

“It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather
what life expected from us.”

“When a man finds that it is his destiny to suffer, he will have to accept his suffering as his task; his single and unique task. He will have to acknowledge the fact that even in suffering he is unique and alone in the universe. No one can relieve him of his suffering or suffer in his place. His unique opportunity lies in the way in which he bears his burden.”

–Viktor Frankl

in Life | 334 Words

Express Yourself

“The free communication of thought and opinion is one of the most precious rights of man; every citizen may therefore speak, write and print freely.” –French National Assembly in 1789

Interesting read of the history of publishing. Could not agree more with the above quote, there is nothing more important to me than the ability to freely express my thought, opinion and even action as long as it doesn’t harm anyone intentionally.

Visual Software

You Can Learn By Teaching

When you cannot teach someone about something, that means you do not understand it. One way to understand something better is to start teaching it to people, learn from it and improve on it.

Someone (Einstein, Richard Feynman or somebody) put it well,

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

Contrary to that idea, to get better at anything we need to repeat it and rinse. So, instead of waiting to fully understand a subject before teaching it, one can start teaching it and the process of teaching someone clarifies things in our own head and improve our understanding of the subject.

I Am A Former Monk, What The Monk?

Once you are a monk you cannot un-monk yourself. If you can, you were never a monk to begin with. If you believe that you are a “former” monk, stop kidding yourself. It seems to be a trend to spend a year or two at a monastery somewhere and come back to teach the rest of the world how enlightened you have become. May be make a buck or two and get your 5 minutes fame. Nothing wrong with that but I don’t agree that one could ever be “former” monk.

Monk is not a job title. It is a state of mind. Being a monk is not like being a president or a store owner. Once you truly acquire that state of mind, how is it possible to go back?

Bad Thoughts Are Bad and Good Thoughts Are Good

Thoughts are the root of everything we experience in our life. So why do we entertain bad thoughts if we know that bad thoughts are bad for us and good thoughts are good for us?

Mind, like a farmland, needs to be plowed, weeded of bad thoughts to get the crop of Ananda (Joy). It takes no effort to let weeds grow in the garden, it takes no effort to let bad thoughts grow in our mind. It takes a lot of deliberate practice and effort to remove the weeds and fertilize the flowers and plants.

We reap what we sow, we cannot sow an orange seed and expect to reap a papaya. We reap good life by sowing good thoughts, so why not go ahead do it? Someone rightly said, everyone wants to be rich but not everyone wants to work for it. We all want joy and happiness and peace but not all of us want to work for it.

I recently found this interesting book by James Allen, mentioned by Les Brown in one of his talks, you can read it for free on Google Books here, enjoy the good thoughts 🙂

“Good thoughts and actions can never produce bad results; Bad thoughts and actions can never produce good results” — James Allen

We Are Living In An Optical Delusion Of Our Consciousness

“A human being,” wrote Einstein in reply, “is a part of the whole, called by us “Universe,’ a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.”

–Albert Einstein

This was published in NY Times in 1972

Actions Are Your Best Friend

The Prophet Mohammed said, “There is no better companion on this way than what you do. Your actions will be your best friend, or if you’re cruel and selfish, your actions will be a poisonous snake that lives in your grave.” –Rumi

Thinking is the opposite of acting, so if you are not acting you are thinking and if you are thinking too much and acting too little, you are going to have a massive cognitive dissonance and that dissonance can only mean one thing, your mind will work hard to match your actions with your thinking or your thinking to your actions. Unfortunately, matching your thinking to your actions is the path of least resistance and so mind will lead your thinking to closer to your actions and that is simply a race to the bottom.

“You don’t rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems”

–James Clear

I’d say you don’t rise to the level of your thinking, you fall to the level of your actions. You can think all the greatest ideas and ideals in this world but they are not going to transform you, what will transform you and make you a better person is when you act on a few of those dreams, ideas, ideals!