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Poor Charlie's Almanack

The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger

By Peter D. Kaufman
18-minute read
Audio available
Poor Charlie's Almanack by Peter D. Kaufman

Poor Charlie’s Almanack (2005) delves into the life and investment philosophies of one of the world’s most reclusive billionaires: Charles Munger. As vice-chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, Munger has been instrumental in investment decisions that have yielded profits in the billions of dollars. But Munger isn’t only interested in money. In these blinks, you’ll learn about his inspiring ethical investment philosophy, how he espouses the importance of paying taxes, and how he is a devoted philanthropist, donating money to educational institutions and causes like Planned Parenthood.

  • Investors wanting some tips about how to pick the most lucrative stock 
  • Economic historians interested in the career of one of the most successful capitalists of our time
  • Psychology buffs curious about the mental processes behind investment decisions

Charles Munger studied at Harvard Law School before going on to establish his own successful practice. A chance meeting with Warren Buffet led him to the world of investing, and today, he is the billionaire vice-chairman of Berkshire Hathaway. Poor Charlie’s Almanack is the first compilation of Munger’s investment advice, garnered from the minutes of Berkshire Hathaway board meetings and Munger’s own speeches.

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Poor Charlie's Almanack

The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger

By Peter D. Kaufman
  • Read in 18 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 11 key ideas
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Poor Charlie's Almanack by Peter D. Kaufman
Synopsis

Poor Charlie’s Almanack (2005) delves into the life and investment philosophies of one of the world’s most reclusive billionaires: Charles Munger. As vice-chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, Munger has been instrumental in investment decisions that have yielded profits in the billions of dollars. But Munger isn’t only interested in money. In these blinks, you’ll learn about his inspiring ethical investment philosophy, how he espouses the importance of paying taxes, and how he is a devoted philanthropist, donating money to educational institutions and causes like Planned Parenthood.

Key idea 1 of 11

Charlie Munger’s youth instilled in him a strong work ethic and philanthropic spirit. 

As a teenager, Charlie Munger went to work for the grocery store run by Warren Buffet’s grandfather, Ernest. This was no idle summer job. Munger was put to work doing 12-hour shifts without a break, for which he earned the princely sum of two dollars. That experience was grueling, but it instilled in him a work ethic that would see him through the rest of his career, from lowly grocery stacker to billionaire.

Munger’s children remember their father working extremely long hours, leaving at dawn and coming back in time for dinner. After eating, he would continue working. Even when he was physically present, chances were that Munger’s mind was actually on work. He’s known for his single-minded focus and has the uncanny ability to tune out all distractions – a very important skill when you have eight children clamoring for attention!

Munger also made a concerted effort to instill his work ethic in his children. One of his sons, William Borthwick, remembers how Munger taught him to get jobs done right the first time – or suffer the consequences. One of Borthwick’s chores was to drive into town to collect their housekeeper and buy a newspaper. This entailed taking a boat across a river and then making a short drive by car. On one particularly stormy day, Borthwick made the journey in howling gales. The violence of the storm made him completely forget to get the newspaper. When Munger heard that, he immediately ordered Borthwick to return – storm or no storm!

This sounds like a very harsh lesson, but it was effective. Borthwick credits the experience with making him a much more effective worker. Although Munger was a strict father, his children remember their childhoods very fondly. He was also completely committed to them, supporting their careers and education.

Munger isn’t just generous to his immediate family – he’s also a well-known philanthropist. Growing up during the Great Depression, Munger saw firsthand the terrible deprivations of poverty. This has led him to always try to make a public contribution. Together with his wife, Nancy, he has made substantial endowments to universities and hospitals. He has also loyally supported causes that are close to his heart, like Planned Parenthood. For Munger, it’s as important to give back as it is to work hard.

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