Poor Charlie’s Almanack Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Poor Charlie’s Almanack explores the life of the famous investor Charlie Munger, the right hand of Warren Buffett, and teaches its readers how his inspirational take on life helped him achieve a fortune and still have time and money to dedicate towards philanthropic causes.

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Poor Charlie's Almanack Summary

Charles Thomas Munger is one of the most influential and successful investors of all time. And yet not many people have heard of him. His down-to-earth lifestyle and preference for spending days in, rather than flashing his wealth online kept him under the radar. However, for those who want to become financially whole and start looking for the best pieces of advice out there, his name should be of importance to you. 

More than an inspirational leader, Munger is also an honest businessman. He pays his taxes regularly and encourages everyone to do so. After all, it’s good for business, and for his country. He is guided by a strong work ethic and a series of principles that projected him quite high on the social and financial scale of life. Now, he’s passing down his knowledge through books like Poor Charlie’s Almanack, edited by Peter Kaufman.

Here are my 3 favorite lessons from the book:

  1. A successful career is paved with many challenges and blessings in disguise. 
  2. Berkshire Hathaway was built on a strong respect for investors worldwide. 
  3. To err is human, but to learn from your mistakes is admirable.

Now, let’s explore these lessons in-depth and see what they have to offer!

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Lesson 1: Munger’s successful career had many drawbacks throughout its course.

Charlie Munger wasn’t always the successful investor he is today. In fact, he doesn’t even hold a bachelor’s degree. During his teenage years, he had a passion for studying and reading. He spent most of his days in libraries and lived through the books he was reading. After he dropped out of college, he learned a series of informal skills that proved to be useful during his lifetime.

Among the subjects he studied were medicine and science, then mathematics and physics. In WWII, he became a pilot and served in the army. Eventually, he finished Harvard Law with Magna Cum Laude. 

His cross-disciplinary skills proved to be of utmost importance when it came to his later career in finance. No matter how many challenges crossed his path, he managed to learn something from each and every one of them. 

The lesson here is to keep on learning and pushing through despite life’s hardships. No matter what you read about, make it a habit to absorb more and more information as you go through life. You never know when it’ll be useful for you.

Moreover, improve your work ethic. Munger insists on finishing things the first time instead of going back to repeat the process. A strong determination to do things right and learn every day will get you far in life, just as it happened with him.

Lesson 2: The key to Munger and Buffett’s successful business was morality, honesty, and respect.

Early in his professional life, Munger started a law firm that went on with its operations successfully, yet something didn’t sit right with him. It wasn’t long after when he had to take a trip to Omaha to close on some real estate he inherited, where he met Buffett. Their shared interest in the business world and investing was enough to spark a long-lasting business relationship between them.

As a result, Munger joined Buffett in managing Berkshire Hathaway, one of the most successful investing enterprises of today. Their immense success was built on a strong work ethic, and more importantly, a series of moral principles. Unlike most Wall Street investors, who con people for a living, Berkshire made it a mission to do away with insider trading and doctoring the books to make certain securities look more promising. 

For a company with 175,000 employees, the cases of litigations and scandals are very few. The company sees tax evasion and cutting corners as something unaligned with its principles. And the two managers take it quite personally when middlemen do so. Of course, scandals occurred, especially when Munger stated that you have to do business with people who share your ethics, but then the company engaged in lucrative partnerships with Solomon Brothers, a corrupt bank.

Still, such scandals are considered sealed today, as Munger and Buffett proved their worth. As such, it’s of great importance to first build a strong work ethic, do things the right way on a first try, engage only in moral businesses and work with companies who value integrity. This formula guarantees success without you giving up on your peace of mind.

Lesson 3: Munger appreciates people who own up to their mistakes because it’s only natural to make errors in life.

Throughout his life, Munger made some terrible mistakes when it comes to business. He failed to buy more stock in valuable companies, he thought Walmart was a costly stock before it skyrocketed, and he once failed to acknowledge that See’s Candy is a great investment prospect. 

Luckily, other agents made him change his mind about that one. Still, he acknowledges that to err is human and that owning up to your mistakes is the most important thing after all. One time a middleman made a terrible mistake that ended up costing the company hundreds of thousands of dollars. In this instance, the man confessed immediately and was willing to suffer all the consequences. Fortunately, this was the exact reason why Munger forgave him and allowed him to keep his job.

Another important trait to develop is the ability to change your mind.  We can’t possibly be right all the time, and sometimes huge opportunities can pass us by if we don’t accept second opinions or new perspectives. If Charlie Munger could rethink his position in See’s Candy, you too can take a second look at your most important decisions in life. Keep in mind that there’s always room for improvement and other people’s contributions can help you.

The Poor Charlie’s Almanack Review

Poor Charlie’s Almanack delves into the fascinating life of Charlie Munger, one of the best investors of all time, who’s built Berkshire Hathaway with Warren Buffett from the beginning. The book explores the principles that served him throughout his life and helped him achieve tremendous success. Reading this book will show you the importance of interdisciplinary training, accepting your mistakes, and building a strong work ethic, among other principles relevant to building a successful career and future. If you like this book, you might also enjoy The Almanack of Naval Ravikant.

Who would I recommend the Poor Charlie’s Almanack summary to?

The 25-year-old person who’s passionate about investing and wants to learn about the lives of successful people in the field, the 30-year-old who loves biographies and real-life inspirational stories of top performers, or the 35-year-old who feels lost in their career and wants to motivate themselves.

Last Updated on October 6, 2023

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Maria Deac

While working with my friend Ovi's company SocialBee, I had the good fortune of Maria writing over 200 summaries for us over the course of 18 months. Maria is a professional SEO copywriter, content writer, and social media marketing specialist. When she's not writing or learning more about marketing, she loves to dance and travel all over the world.