Episode 37: The Business & Life Secrets of Warren Buffett’s Partner – Charlie Munger Part 2
Episode 37: The Business & Life Secrets of Warren Buffett’s Partner – Charlie Munger Part 2
9 “Secrets and Rules For More Success and A Better Richer Life” Charlie Munger Part 1: If you want to get your own copy of Poor Charlie’s Almanack: Expended Third Edition here’s the link. 1) Understand “Cognitive Bias” and What Default Human Practices/Tendencies to Avoid Three Tendencies To Avoid While Making Life and Business Decisions: 1) Bias from envy and jealousy, related from Buffett – “It’s not greed that drives the world…it’s envy.” 2) Avoid accepting delusional beliefs (sounds simple but…), and 3) Making closed minded judgments about people…remain open to learning from people who you at first dislike. Here’s a link to a brief video reminder: https://youtu.be/sJgHvuTeryM 2) Practice Frugality and Simplicity "One of the great defenses — if you're worried about inflation — is not to have a lot of silly needs in your life." According to CNBC: “Despite their success, Munger and Buffett are .” Buffett goes to breakfast every day but often spends less that $4.00. Both Charlie and Warren have lived in modest homes and driven older-model cars most of their lives. It was a habit they built to ensure that they had money to invest. 3) Read Daily and Choose Your Reading Wisely "In my whole life, I have known no wise people who didn't read all the time — none, zero." The richest man in the world, Bill Gates, , or Buffett, who . Munger's been an avid reader since he was a kid and he notes that "By age eight both Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin had permanent places on the bookshelf above his bed." Dave Frees’ Tool To Do This Better Developing the ability to read with discipline and more effectively – set aside time to do it…everyday. Set aside time to think strategically about what you want to read. Reading rules: Read the cover, intro, table of contents. Then, and as you read, do a note card(s) with the essential ideas, copy and quotes you might later use and also a separate note card with action items/resources. Once you’re done the book do a mind map on a card. Keep both in the front of the book but take the action item and resources card out and buy/acquire the resources and diary the action items. 4) Develop the Right Habits and Use The Compounding Effect Of Knowledge and Wisdom "Spend each day trying to be a little better, smarter, and wiser than you were when you woke up." The wealthiest, most successful people tend to push themselves beyond their comfort zones and prior achievements. They are constantly looking for ways to improve and Munger is no exception. Again, according to CNBC: "In Charlie's own life, when he was practicing law, he implemented a self-education regime for one hour a day to learn such things as real estate development and stock investing…He has often said that he is a much better investor at 90 than he was at 50, a fact he attributes to the compounding effect of knowledge." 5) Rules For Business Owners & Career Advice: "Three rules for a career: 1) Don't sell anything you wouldn't buy yourself, 2) Don't work for (or hire) anyone you don't respect and admire, 3) Work only with people you enjoy." Dave’s Take on This: whenever you’re brainstorming new products and services, or the re-vamp of an existing one, make sure to repeatedly ask the question “Would I buy this for myself or another person? If so Why? And, “how could it be even better, simpler, and even easier to get the desired result?” And when it comes to hiring and working for clients/customers/patients, it’s not enough to know that you enjoy and respect them. Try to understand what it is about people who you have, for years, enjoyed and respected, and why you feel that way. This makes judgments about others in the future easier. 6) Be A Renaissance Man or Woman And Learn Across Disciplines “If you skillfully follow the multidisciplinary path, you will never wish to come back. It would be like cutting off your hands.” “I paid no attention to the territorial boundaries of academic disciplines and I just grabbed all the big ideas that I could.” Munger Generalism 7) Be Aware of Your Limits and Expand Them But Excel Within Them Don’t Get Ahead of Them “It is remarkable how much long-term advantage people like us have gotten by trying to be consistently not stupid, instead of trying to be very intelligent.” “I think Warren and I know the edge of our competency better than other people do.” Munger Think strategically and globally as you take on a project, about the following: What are the upsides? Financially as well as in terms of happiness and team/work satisfaction/motivation What are the risks? Financially and to all of the above. What are our known and existing resources and strengths that are used here? Where/How are we weak here? Do others within the organization agree? How have customer’s clients and patients rated us in these skill areas in past transactions? 8) Build On Simplicity – Informed Simplicity “Take a simple idea, and take it seriously.” Munger Ultimately, we build best when we build on simplicity and we are dedicated to simplifying. Don’t start with ideas that are too complex. Find one that solves a basic need or problem is a new OR proven way that’s not previously or currently being applied to this market/problem/niche. Build from there but continuously seek to “re-simplify.” 9) Build A “Lattice” of Mental Models To Be Truly Effective In Every Aspect of Life “What are the models? Well, the first rule is that you've got to have multiple models because if you just have one or two that you're using, the nature of human psychology is such that you'll torture reality so that it fits your models, or at least you'll think it does. … And the models have to come from multiple disciplines because all the wisdom of the world is not to be found in one little academic department. That's why poetry professors, by and large, are so unwise in a worldly sense. They don't have enough models in their heads. So you've got to have models across a fair array of disciplines. You may say, “My God, this is already getting way too tough.” But, fortunately, it isn't that tough because 80 or 90 important models will carry about 90% of the freight in making you a worldly wise person. And, of those, only a mere handful really carry very heavy freight.” Munger Here’s an amazing resource on Munger and models: The categories from which we derive useful mental models/frameworks of thinking and more accurately understanding the world: Mathematics and Statistics Biology Human Nature and Judgment Military and Covert Warfare Improved Thinking & Psychology Systems Thinking Physics of the Observable World and Quantum Mechanics Micro Economics And when we align our lives and practices with not only our principles and values but also with the “laws of nature” and a better way of thinking (a matrix of mental models) then things start to get really good. There are hundreds of models under each category above, but let me suggest a few that you learn and consider in the future as you: 1) develop products and services, 2) solve problems for yourself, team and clients, 3) launch new marketing and sales efforts and campaigns, 4) improve your profitability, systems, and the value of your practice as well as, 5) taking actions to radically improve your relationships and personal life. Mathematics and Statistics: Compounding and the time value of money – Once we understand the power of compounding of money, we can begin to understand the time value of money AND that compounding might apply to other things as well. For example, if we understand the time value of money we may stop giving away value by allowing clients to pay us over long periods of time. Can’t be done? Yes it can but you need to think more deeply. Can you alter who you attract? Can you offer multiple payments but with interest or at a higher price? Likewise, when we understand compounding in one way (of money) we can start to think about building skills earlier and reaping the reward of getting better and better sooner. For example, I learned a set of skills as a negotiator and interrogator that I have used since my twenties. Had I learned them later I’d have left millions of dollars on the table over the years. And, I’m better than ever now and can use these skills is more imaginative ways, across multiple disciplines to make even more and to limit downside risk. Pareto’s Principle - Otherwise known as the 80/20 rule. Once we learn that 20 percent of most societies seem to amass 80% of the wealth (across cultures, religions, nations, and throughout time) we begin to realize that we use 20% of our homes 80% of the time and that 80% of the time we are wearing the same 20% of our shoes and clothes. This leads us to understand that 20% of our marketing and advertising gets us most of the results (but not always the 20% of the clients that yield/pay us 80% of our profits or the 20% who make 80% of the best referral. That 20% of our team accomplishes 80% of the tasks. When we do we can look at hiring, training, client selection, lines of business and service, and our advertising and marketing in a totally different (and more effective and profitable) way. The laws of small and large numbers - One of the fundamental underlying assumptions of probability is that as more instances of an event occur, the actual results will converge on the expected ones. For example, if we know that the average man is 5 feet 10 inches tall, we’re far more likely to get an average of 5′10″ by selecting 1,000 men at random than 5 men at random. The opposite of this model is the law of small numbers, which states that small samples can and should be looked at with great skepticism. Can you think how this might apply to thinking about a sales letter, Facebook advertising, reviewing resumes? Biology: Adaptation Species tend to adapt to their surroundings and changes in their surrounding.. But, the adaptations made in an individual organism’s lifetime are not passed down genetically. Rather, whole Populations of species adapt through the process of evolution by natural selection, as the most-fit offspring of the species survive in the new and changed environment and are then able to reproduce at an above-average rate. Can this help us in business? Well, think about testing and marketing. The landscape recently changed dramatically for trusts and estate lawyers. For most of their clients, the old motivations to do planning…the federal estate tax…is now gone. So what to do? What will get them to act in this new, and tax friendlier environment? Before we create or offer a new product or service in a full launch and expensive rollout (where we dedicate enormous resources that cannot easily be recovered) it might be useful to offer a few variations based on our theory of what’s best in a new legal environment. One or two of our tests may substantially outperform the others (as they did). Then and only then do we put our resources behind a broader release of the real survivors. (The Arms Race of Genetic and current Adaptation) As the above blog observes, “The evolution-by-natural-selection model leads to something of an arms race among species competing for limited resources.” Thus, when one species acquires an advantageous adaptation, a competing species must also adapt in some equal or better way or it will fail as a species. Essentially, this model tells us that staying in the same place, can mean falling behind or dying out. This evolutionary arms race is called the Red Queen Effect for the character in Alice in Wonderland who said, “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.” So, this gets us thinking about the need for constant reinvention or at least about being aware of changes in the environment and in our competition. It also suggests both an advantage in being innovative and able to cloak or hide the innovation from our competitors for as long as possible. It means we have to develop ways of working smarter NOT just harder. Finally, if we bring different models to bear there is also a model from warfare that tells us that splitting our forces diminishes their power and makes error more likely. So do we do ourselves harm by splitting our energies and resources and developing new services and products when our existing ones are still going strong? Now we know we’re getting somewhere because our models have conflicting things to tell us and we have to think about it even more. Complicated? Yes. Extremely powerful? You Bet. Human Nature and Judgment: Trust Fundamentally, most societies and social/business structures operate on the basis of trust. A trusting system is one that tends to work most efficiently and as a result, the rewards of trust are extremely high. When prospects learn to trust you and your business, cost of acquisition is lowered. This means that the skills of truly building and maintaining trust are a highly valuable. But how people test for trust and what they require to maintain it seems complicated and dependent on contest. To learn more see my article on trust here: Trust Part I Trust Part II Trust Part III Trust Part IV and Resources or Here are links to two more excellent articles on two more mental models worth adding to your way of thinking about and looking at problems and creating solutions. Basically, we tend, based on past association, stereotyping (another human mental model that must be understood), our own ideology, or by direct experience, to distort our thinking and judgments in favor of people or things that they like and against people or things they dislike. This tendency leads to overrating the things we like and underrating or broadly categorizing things we dislike, often missing crucial nuances in the process. Application in business and in life: Build a practice of asking ourselves the question, “Am I making this decision/Judgment based on objective facts/observations OR might my basis for the decision be based on a tendency to like or dislike a person or institution involved? Another thought to drive better business practices and more effective behavior in life: “And what will a man naturally come to like and love, apart from his parent, spouse and child? Well, he will like and love being liked and loved.” — Charlie Munger Manipulative? Yes. But if you do truly love and carefor your clients, customers, friends, and relatives…think about it. Military, Covert Practices & Warfare Seeing the Front One of the most valuable military tactics is the habit of “personally seeing the front” before making decisions – not always relying on advisors, maps, and reports, all of which can be either faulty or biased. The NLP Map Is Not The Territory model illustrates the problem with not seeing the actual front, as does the incentive model. Leaders of any organization can generally benefit from seeing the front, as not only does it provide firsthand information, but it also tends to improve the quality of secondhand information. In business this can translate into periodically observing and/or debriefing front line contacts. Listening to phone call recordings and, for a sales manager/director might mean actually taking calls when a new product launches to hear the questions, objections and vocabulary used. This is turn can inform marketing and sales training. Asymmetric Warfare Think the American Revolution, ISIS, Osama Bin Laden and the Iraqi Insurgency. The asymmetry model as applied to warfare is one side creating and playing by different rules than the other side. Generally, this model is applied by an insurgency with limited resources. Unable to out-muscle their opponents using conventional weapons and tactics that favor the conventional force, asymmetric fighters use other tactics, as with terrorism creating fear that's disproportionate to their actual destructive ability. Two-Front War Model – From Both Directions The Second World War was a good example of a two-front war for Germany. Once Russia and Germany became enemies, Germany was forced to split its troops and send them to separate fronts, weakening their impact on both fronts. America was lured into a two front war in Europe and the Pacific which successfully (for a time) diluted it’s ability to bring it’s full military force to bear. In business, opening a two-front war can often be a useful tactic that will cause competition to divide it’s forces. This can be especially powerful if the second “front” is launched by another competitor or type of competition. If you care currently fighting a two front war solving that dispute or avoiding the opening of a second front, An example might be an organization effectively tamping down “internal discord” (think Uber) to focus on its competitors or external attacks. Improved Thinking & Psychology: This NLP model tells us that there will always be an imperfect relationship between reality (on the ground) and the various models we use to simplify, represent, understand and to operate within the reality. The reduction and simplification is helpful and often allows us to act, but we should not be unmindful of it or surprised when the reality differs from the model. A technique popularized by Einstein, Tesla and Edison, the thought “experiment” is a way to logically carry out a test in one’s own head that would be very expensive, difficult or impossible to perform in real life. With the thought experiment as a tool, we can “solve problems” in advance and then deploy/implement and test our “solutions” in the real world. Named after the friar William of Ockham, Occam’s Razor is a heuristic for simplifying choice and selecting between or among competing explanations or solutions. Ockham’s Razor essentially states that we should prefer or select the simplest explanation with the fewest moving parts. Such explanations are, in general, easier to understand, and more likely, on average, to be the correct explanation. This principle is not an ironclad law but a useful mindset/force multiplier. It allows us to make more accurate choices more often. Essentially, the idea is that “If all else is equal, it’s more likely that the simple solution suffices. Of course, we also keep in mind Einstein’s famous idea (even if apocryphal) that “an idea should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler. Systems & Systems Thinking (and Homeostasis) People (and the business structures that they create) prefer the comfort zone. Once they have achieved a safe place to live in a comfortable way it will take quite a bit of energy or a significant threat to get them to change. That is why creating and monitoring feedback loops matters so much in business as standing still is, in reality moving backwards. Without careful and regular self assessment and a review of the data we become subject to disruption by people and entities willing to lie with change and who are more aware/adaptive. Algorithms An algorithm is generally an automated set of rules, code, or a “blueprint” leading a series of steps or actions moving the result step-bystep toward a desired outcome. Algorithms are best known for their use in...