10 Life Lessons from Investing Legend Charlie Munger

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The investment world lost an icon this week. Charlie Munger, Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, passed away at the age of 99. Having worked alongside Warren Buffet for decades, Munger imparted a great deal of investing wisdom but perhaps even more importantly, he encouraged others to live a happy and fulfilling life. He chalked up his success to an insatiable curiosity and strong effort to make rational choices — two qualities we deeply admire and try to emulate at Smith & Berg Partners. Here are 10 key lessons we’ve learned from Charlie Munger:

Featured photo source: Sloww

1. Learn widely out of curiosity. 

Munger read extensively. He felt ideas from psychology, economics and science could make you a better thinker and decision-maker. Note to self: staying curious opens your mind.

2. Focus on core principles, not temporary facts.

Munger cared more about timeless fundamentals of human nature and value than fleeting details. By and large, basing choices on lasting truths works better over decades.

3. Think logically, avoid emotions.

When making decisions, Munger used an analytical approach focused purely on facts and motivations at play. Cool rationality brings clarity when stakes run high. Exercise it daily.

4. Welcome wisdom from unexpected experts.

True to his curiosity, Munger learned from architects, physicians and many others beyond his investing niche. New frameworks spark creative solutions. It’s important to seek broad knowledge.

5. Surround yourself with bright, ethical challengers.

Munger filled his network with thoughtful pros who made him defend his ideas. Regular debates sharpen thinking over a lifetime.

6. Build trust through honesty and principles.

Buffett said Munger “sees the best in everyone” because he saw the best in himself first. Stand by a moral code, even when hard. Earn respect.

7. Blend stubbornness and openness.

On his expertise, Munger held convictions firmly yet adapted opinions with new evidence, calling it “strong opinions, weakly held.” Stay flexible.

“Life lesson #7 is one of my pillars. Being strong in my convictions yet open to constructive and positive alternatives has guided my business and my life.” — F. Ron Smith

8. Filter knowledge throughput.

With so much info, Munger focused on what really matters based on rational, ethical standards. Become wisely selective.

9. Roll with ups & downs calmly.

Munger took both wealth and hardship in stride, grounded in reality. Equanimity aids sound judgments regardless of external storms.

10. Keep simple roots.

Despite prestige, Munger lived modestly, valuing family and friends most. He saw past temporary highs, favoring substance over flashy facades.

“We should all be as lucky as Warren Buffett was, to have such a great friend and colleague for so many years.” — David Berg

Photo source: Wallpapers.com

With curiosity, rationality and wisdom, Munger left a legacy of level-headed principles to apply towards living an examined life. What have you learned from Munger? We’d love to know — shoot us an email at [email protected] or DM us on Instagram @smithandberg and let’s chat.

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