How Charlie Munger’s hunger for reading makes him a better Investor

Spending most of his time in the day reading, learning and thinking, Charlie Munger attributes a lot of his success to the time he spends in poring through books.

He also seeks to constantly identify where he might be wrong – and not fall in love with ideas. He once said: “…Warren and I are very good at destroying our own best-loved ideas. Any year that you don’t… is probably a wasted year.”

His own unique worldview, a self-developed ‘Multiple Mental Models, consists of borrowing big ideas from a number of disciplines and collecting information. Being self-taught, he is convinced that his own patient, organized and focused approach has worked.

Success story

Charlie Thomas Munger, born in 1924, is an American investor, businessman, former real estate attorney, and philanthropist.

Vice-chairman of Berkshire Hathaway since 1978 and partner of Warren Buffet, he is also Chairman of Wesco Financial Corporation (1984 to 2011), the Daily Journal Corporation in Los Angeles, California, and Director of Costco Wholesale Corporation.

Wise words

Charlie Munger is clear that reading and self-reflection is the source of his success. Without the book, there is no way forward, he feels.

As he once put it:

When it started

The book-lover has been reading for as long as he can remember. He credits his success and growth to meeting the “towering intellectuals in books, not in the classroom”.

He says that he cannot remember when he first read Ben Franklin, but he does remember that he had Thomas Jefferson with him near his bed at seven or eight years. He is also clear that his family prompted him to move forward through “discipline, knowledge, and self-control”.

Self-reflection is the way forward

Munger once told a friend that he always carries a book or a newspaper with him, in case he gets delayed, so that he feels he is not wasting time.

His friend recalls that he once missed a commercial flight out of the airport, because he had to pass through the security checkpoint many times. Still, he was not upset at having been held up, but just settled down to read his books.

He points out that as most people either don’t grab the right ideas, or don’t know what to do with them, they would also not know how to use self-reflection to build up successful careers.

Disciplined reading of business dailies and magazines has exposed him to so much content at the micro level that he understands macro levels very well.

Recommended books

His reading range is reflected in the various lists of book recommendations that Charlie Munger has put up in various websites, including  ‘Mastering the Market Cycle: Getting the Odds on Your Side’, by Howard Marks.

He lauds it with the following comment: I always say, ‘There’s no better teacher than history in determining the future.’

Howard’s book tells us how to learn from history . . . and thus get a better idea of what the future holds.

Another book that impresses him is ‘Getting to Yes’ by Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton. The book seems to have been majorly impactful, as he says that Robert Cialdini has had a greater impact on my thinking on this topic than any other scientist.

Great challenges

Munger grew up during the Great Depression of the 1930s and had to work hard for a living. Yet he converted every challenge into a positive.

During the Second World War, he began to major in Mathematics, but due to a high demand for military service, enlisted in the Army Air Corps during his second college year. After the war, Munger graduated from Harvard Law School with magna cum laude.

In partnership with Warren Buffet for almost 60 years, Charlie Munger took over a failing textile company, Berkshire Hathaway, converting it into a $490 billion conglomerate, with complete responsibility and efficiency.

Munger’s simple rule was to leverage just any available time he got in order to continue reading.

The way forward

Charlie Munger is an ideas person, which has got triggered by his reading habits. Deep investment for wisdom and success is his mantra. An investor scales success only if he reads. No one else can do it for him, he once said.

In author David Clark’s “The Tao of Charlie Munger,” he summed up his philosophy. If you want wisdom, you’ll get it sitting on your a–. That’s the way it comes.

How you can get started with Self Reflection?

Learning to read and understand during every spare minute of your day would help you to get started with self-reflection.

Looking for an easy way to get started with your self-development practice?

Daylitude can help shift your mindset, increase positivity, and discover a greater connection with yourself.


Interested in other self reflection and gratitude practices?