I have seen many famous investors come and go, including ones who were supposed to be geniuses. It is widely known that Warren Buffett breaks the mold, and has proven – even over the long term – to be a winner. What is less known is that he has a partner in his thinking, Charlie Munger. He has been called the brains behind Warren Buffett, but clearly these two men maintain a balanced partnership that has led to their success. (Such great duets are not unusual in business success – study Walt Disney and his lesser known brother Roy, without whom we might never have heard of Walt, and definitely would not have visited Disney World.)
Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger, forward by Warren E. Buffet and Edited by Peter D. Kaufman (Expanded Third Edition, 2008, Donning Company) may be one of the most important business books you will ever read. And, unfortunately, not a book likely to be found in your local bookstore. It is priced at the high end of the business book arena at $54 (though Munger gives away the profits) and it is not well distributed, although you can obtain it via Amazon. My thanks to Danny Mulligan for telling me about this compilation of Munger’s musings and speeches. (You will be a friend for life if you find me another book this important.)
Munger at first appears to be a cross between Andy Rooney and your grandpa. Ornery, not afraid to say what he thinks, his picture next to “curmudgeon” in the dictionary. But his brains are exponentially more diverse and harder working than Andy’s. And probably grandpa’s. His rantings are focused on investments and business strategies and decisions, although he is clearly a renaissance man in many ways. You cannot help but admire his broad-ranging curiosity, reflected on page after page. The result is a “business book” – I use the term loosely – that is unlike any other you might read. This is no Harvard Business School case study. This is one very smart guy telling us what he thinks is important.
Like that psychology is the most important thing to study, but that you are probably wasting your time taking any psychology class in a university. I would go on, but then you might not send in your $54 and get the full value of his wisdom.
For many, the best part of this book will be Charlie’s famous wit. You can see why, despite his orneriness, he has a lot of longstanding friends, and why people like sitting in board meetings with him.
But I urge you to read this book very slowly, savor it. Read a chapter a day and let it sink in. Because this is very serious, important stuff.
I should also tell you the book is big, beautiful, and well-illustrated. It’s full of real world and real life stories, talking about many companies that you are already familiar with.
This may be the best $54 you will ever spend on your business education – or education in life, for that matter. I cannot recommend this book more highly. You can buy it by clicking on the link to the right (your use of these links supports my website and continued efforts to tell you about my favorite books).