Twelve lessons from Charle Munger

by Jan Klein Poelhuis

It was February 15, 2023, when Charlie Munger (99 years of age) took the stage at the Daily Journal Corporation Annual Meeting. Viewers were in for a real treat and witnessed Munger in form. Traditionally, Munger joins the CEO of the Daily Journal Corp. to answer questions about the business. However, the majority of questions are about Berkshire Hathaway, investing, and how to live a good life. 

What followed was a Q&A session between CNBC’s Beckie Quick and Charlie Munger that lasted for two and a half hours. At FortyTwo Capital, we listen very carefully when this wise man speaks. Most often, Munger talks in brief, powerful statements. This time however, he was clearly in a good mood and way more talkative than he usually is. 

We decided to distillate some of the important and timeless Mungerian lessons from this occasion, so we keep them top of mind. Having done so, we might as well share these key points on our website. Mind you, the statements are not literal translations, but our interpretations of the Munger statements.

  1. If you are just not crazy and act rational: you have a big advantage over 95% of the people. 
  2. There is a lot of crazy hype around Artificial Intelligence, in the end it might be a mixed blessing.
  3. If the truth is unpleasant enough, the mind plays tricks in denial of what is really happening.
  4. All cost considered, maybe 5% of the fund managers can beat the averages over an extended period.
  5. The semiconductor industry is a peculiar industry, in which all money previously made needs to be reinvested for each new generation of chips released. 
  6. The way the United States handled the period after World War II, in which both Germany and Japan became trustworthy allies, is a credit to our species. Civilization needs more honor, not less.
  7. Capitalism is tough, even if you’re a genius, there will always be someone who will do things better.
  8. Life will be better with good judgement, which follows from getting experience from bad judgment.
  9. There is no easier way for people to hate you, then to fail on their reasonable expectations.
  10. Take Benjamin Franklin as an example and develop yourself as widely & diversely as possible.
  11. Only insure for things you can’t afford to pay for yourself (with the exception of medical insurance).
  12. The business world is very much just like the physical world in which all the animals eventually die.

And one more: Eat Peanut Brittle (See’s Candie) if you want to live to ninety nine, it’s the key the longevity. 

Vice-Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Corporation Charlie Munger speaks to Reuters during an interview in Omaha, Nebraska May 3, 2013. REUTERS/Lane Hickenbottom