What We Can Learn From Charlie Munger: Quotes on Success
Charlie Munger was not only the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, but also one of the most respected investing minds.
Charlie Munger’s accomplishments span across decades of astute business leadership and investment acumen. With Warren Buffet, he transformed Berkshire Hathaway into a behemoth conglomerate.
His major accomplishments include his successful investments in companies such as Coca-Cola and Apple, which yielded incredibly high returns.
Moreover, Munger’s principles of value investing and his emphasis on ethics, patience, and simplicity have significantly shaped the investment sector. His investment strategies have been so successful that they have become the subject of books and are taught in business and finance courses around the world.
Munger is also a noted philanthropist, having donated millions of dollars to educational institutions and other causes.
Charlie Munger and Warren Buffet first crossed paths in 1959 in Omaha, through a mutual acquaintance. Dr. Davis invited them to have dinner together.
“We hit it off immediately,” Buffett said.
Over time, their shared principles, coupled with their distinct approaches to investing, laid the foundation for a relationship that would prove to be one of the most successful partnerships in the history of American business.
“Berkshire Hathaway could not have been built to its present status without Charlie’s inspiration, wisdom and participation.,” Warren Buffett said in a company statement.
When Munger passed on November 28, 2023, Forbes estimated his net worth at $2.6 billion, but some might argue his most valuable assets were these pearls of wisdom that may make us a bit wiser.
In this blog post, we will cover some lessons we can learn from Charlie Munger’s quotes on success.
#1 Giving Back is Key
Munger believed that giving back was a key to success.
According to Forbes, “It was Munger, not Buffett, who initiated the designated contributions plan under which Berkshire shareholders get to donate $13 for each of their shares to their favorite charity.”
Munger fervently believed in using his wealth to empower others, particularly in the realm of education. Over the years, Munger made substantial contributions to universities, including a $110 million gift to the University of Michigan Law School, where he was an alumnus, and a $200 million donation to the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Additionally, Munger’s philanthropic efforts extended beyond educational institutions.
Munger supported a number of charities throughout his life, contributing to a variety of causes including Good Samaritan Hospital, The Giving Pledge, The Huntington Library, and The Institute for Advanced Study.
His philanthropic legacy, much like his investment wisdom, continues to inspire and guide future generations.
He donated not just out of a sense of duty, but from a deeply held belief that success is not just about accumulating wealth, but about helping others to succeed as well.
#2 Advocating For Women’s Rights
“During the 1960s Munger helped California women obtain abortions in Mexico by paying for their trips. Later, he was a driving force in helping persuade the California Supreme Court to make the first decision overturning, on constitutional grounds, a law prohibiting abortions,” Forbes reported.
#3 The Value of Living Modestly
Munger told CNBC he “decided not to live a life where I look like the Duke of Westchester or something.”
Munger said he, “didn’t think it would be good for the children.”
There were indeed eight of them, but still he didn’t feel the need to buy a bigger home.
“Warren and I both live in the same house for decade after decade after decade, and all our friends get rich and build bigger and better houses,” Munger said.
“Naturally, we both considered bigger and better houses, and I had a huge number of children, so it was justifiable even.”
Charlie Munger was a staunch advocate of leading a simple lifestyle, even amidst his immense wealth. This is evident in his decision to live in the same house for several decades, regardless of his increasing net worth and the societal pressure to exhibit wealth.
He believed that maintaining a modest lifestyle would provide a better environment for his children to grow up in.
Despite having ample justification to purchase a larger residence due to his large family, Munger chose to prioritize values over vanity.
His belief in frugality extended beyond his personal life; he applied the same principles to his business decisions, favoring long-term value over short-term gains.
This personification of modest living serves as a reminder that success is not always defined by lavishness, but by the values one upholds.
#3 Make Lemonade Out of Lemons
“Another thing, of course, is life will have terrible blows, horrible blows, unfair blows. 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 mischance in life was an opportunity to behave well. Every mischance in life was an opportunity to learn something and your duty was not to be submerged in self-pity, but to utilize the terrible blow in a constructive fashion. That is a very good idea.” — 2007 USC Law School Commencement Address
#4 The Importance of Curiosity and Continuous Learning
“In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time — none, zero. You’d be amazed at how much Warren reads — and at how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I’m a book with a couple of legs sticking out.” — Poor Charlie’s Almanack
“Develop into a lifelong self-learner through voracious reading, cultivate curiosity, and strive to become a little wiser every day.”
“Spend each day trying to be a little wiser than you were when you woke up. Day by day, and at the end of the day if you live long enough, most people get what they deserve.”
Whether it is reading personal finance books, attending conferences, or simply staying curious, continuous learning is essential for both personal and professional growth.
#5 We Can Draw Inspiration From Costco
Costco is not just for a good deal on bulk paper towels. Munger believed the way the company is run is a prime example of efficiency.
“I wish everything else in America was working as well as Costco does. Think what a blessing that would be for us all.” — 2022 Daily Journal Annual Meeting
Charlie Munger’s admiration for Costco stems from its superior business model and the company’s commitment to both its customers and employees. In a world where many corporations prioritize profit above all else, Costco stands out with its conscious choice to cap its markups and pass on the savings to its customers.
This customer-first approach is largely why Costco has a consistently high customer satisfaction rating and a loyal membership base.
Moreover, Costco’s employee-centric policies, offering competitive wages and benefits, contribute to low staff turnover and high morale, which in turn translates into superior customer service.
Munger saw in Costco a model of how businesses should operate – with integrity, efficiency, and a focus on creating value for both customers and employees. This ideal blend of efficiency and ethos made Costco not just an inspiring business model for Munger, but a beacon for what successful, responsible capitalism can look like.
#6 Invest in Above-Average Stocks
“I think that the modern investor, to get ahead, almost has to get in a few stocks that are way above average. They try and have a few Apples and Googles or so on, just to keep up, because they know that a significant percentage of all the gains that come to all the common stockholders combined is going to come from a few of these supercompetitors.” — 2023 Wall Street Journal interview
#7 Invest in Great Companies
Munger was a huge proponent of investing in great companies rather than chasing after the latest trends.
One of his most famous quotes is, “It’s far better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.”
This quote is a reminder that quality should always come before price. Ladies, when investing your hard-earned money, remember that it’s not about finding the cheapest stock, but rather investing in a solid company with long-term growth potential.
#8 Trust Your Instinct & Recognize Great Opportunities
“You’ve got to learn how to recognize rare opportunities when they come.” Munger said.
#9 Success Will Come if You Are “A Little Less Crazy” Than Most People
“Well, we got a little less crazy than most people and a little less stupid than most people,” Munger said when asked how he and Buffett achieved success.
#10 Merit & Hard Work Are Keys To Success
“To get what you want, you have to deserve what you want. The world is not yet a crazy enough place to reward a whole bunch of undeserving people.”
#11 Smart People Know What They Know, and More Importantly, What They Don’t Know
“Knowing what you don’t know is more useful than being brilliant.”
In this quote, Munger underscores the value of recognizing one’s limitations and ignorance, which can be more beneficial than mere intelligence.
“I believe in the discipline of mastering the best that other people have ever figured out. I don’t believe in just sitting down and trying to dream it all up yourself. Nobody’s that smart.”
Munger highlights the importance of learning from others and the collective knowledge of mankind.
Charlie Munger was a true master of investing, and his wit and common sense wisdom will continue to inspire others.
If you didn’t know who he was before, don’t feel bad about that.
Now you know him and have some wise gems to take with you on your way.
Whether it’s on investing, learning, life, mistakes, or success, Munger had a quote for every situation.
As women, we can draw inspiration from his words and apply them to our own lives.