Thoughts on Business and Technology

Ideas from Charlie Munger – Speech at USC Graduation 2007


Idea #1 The safest way to get something in life is to deserve it

You want to deliver to the world what you would buy if you were on the other end.

Idea #2 There is no love that’s so right as admiration-based love and such love should include the instructive dead

This is the kind of love one should avoid. The best example of such love can be found in Maugham’s book “Of Human Bondage”

Idea #3 Wisdom acquisition is a moral duty

This is an idea from Confucius, Wisdom is not something you would acquire just to advance in life. The corollary to this idea is “Lifetime learning” … You don’t have to be the smartest or the most diligent, you should be a learning machine to advance in life

Idea #4 You can progress only when you learn the method of learning

Just as civilization can progress only when it invents the method of invention,

Idea #5 Multi Disciplinary thinking

Few big ideas across multiple disciplines carry 95% of the freight and it’s not difficult use these ideas in one’s mental routine. But you have to practice it regularly. If you do, you might know more than experts in their field.

A man who doesn’t know what happened before him goes through his life like a child – Cicero

Idea #6 All I want to know is where I’m going to die so I’ll never go there

The way complex adaptive system,s work, and the many mental constructs work , problems frequently get easier to solve through “inversion”. If you turn problems around into reverse, you often think better.

Inversion in Algebra and in Life.

How can you fail in life –

  • Sloth and unreliability
  • Extreme ideology – When you shout it out… you are pounding it in. The cure of this is to have a iron rule that you are qualified to speak when you can argue equally well about the other side
  • Self Serving Bias – The feeling of entitlement and tendency of serving oneself. You should also allow for self serving bias of others. don’t expect people to be saints ( to persuade appeal to interest not to reason )
  • Envy, Resentment, Self Petty – When you avoid them you will get a great advantage over everybody else
Idea #7 Avoid perverse incentives and association

Avoid working directly under somebody, who you don’t admire and don’t want to be like.

Idea #8 Objectivity maintenance

Pay close attention to discomforting evidence. Avoid looking for evidence that suits your wishes or beliefs.

Checklist routines help in keeping your thoughts straight

Idea #9 Maximizing Non-egality  will often work wonders

The game of life is about getting a lot of practice to the players who have the most aptitude to learn and have a tendency to be a learning machine. You don’t what airplanes designed in too egalitarian a fashion.

– If you are not the best … partner with those who are the best and give them the power.

Idea #10 There is Plank knowledge and Chauffeur knowledge

It’s important to understand the difference between real knowledge and superficial knowledge.

Idea #11 Intense interest in any subject is indispensable if you’r really going to excel in it

If at all feasible, you want to drift into doing something you have a natural interest in

Idea #12 Assiduity

“Sit on your ass until you do it”

Idea #13 Seamless web of deserved trust

You will attract great partners and friends if you deserve them.

Idea #14 Every mischance in life, created an opportunity to behave well – Epictetus

Treat every missed opportunity in life presents an opportunity to behave well and learn

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