Charlie Munger's 3-Word Piece Of Advice Helped Warren Buffett And Could Help You Too

This story is part of a new series of features on the subject of success, Benzinga Inspire.

A podcaster got to meet Charlie Munger and have dinner with the legendary investor and vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-A)(NYSE: BRK-B). Here is the biggest piece of advice and key takeaway from the dinner.

What Happened: Munger and legendary investor Warren Buffett have known each other for years and have a great friendship to this day. If not for a chance meeting and Munger’s desire to be around great people, Berkshire Hathaway could be different today.

David Senra, the host of the Founders Podcast, reads a biography of an entrepreneur each week and breaks it down as an episode on the podcast.

For one of the recent podcasts, Senra shared his thoughts on the book “Tao of Charlie Munger: A Compilation of Quotes from Berkshire Hathaway’s Vice Chairman on Life, Business, and the Pursuit of Wealth” by David Clark.

In the podcast episode, Senra mixes in quotes and thoughts from the book with real life answers he got from a dinner he had with Munger.

“I had dinner with Charlie Munger. I spent over 3 hours with him. I got to see his library. I could ask him any question I wanted,” Senra tweeted.

While Senra shared several quotes from Munger in the book and some that he heard from Munger at dinner, he pointed to one that made the biggest impact.

“The most important lesson I learned from him that night was: GO FOR GREAT.”

Senra said the quote from Munger breaks down to a combination of 4 simple ideas:

  • 1. Charlie looks at everything through the lens of history. Human nature does not change. The same behaviors repeat forever.
  • 2. Problems from time to time should be expected. This is an inescapable part of life.
  • 3. Wise people do not whine about problems. They prevent them. “Wisdom is prevention.”
  • 4. Great businesses are rare. Great people are rare too. Great people and great businesses produce fewer problems.

Related Link: Charlie Munger Says This Is The Smartest Person He’s Ever Met And It’s Not Warren Buffett

Why It’s Important: In the podcast, Senra adds that a big portion of people’s lives is searching for their goals and they often don’t reach where they’re meant to be until later in their life.

“Your mission in life is to get into a great business (and stay there) and build relationships with great people. Doing that will prevent the majority of problems that are under your control. Go for great,” Senra said of Munger’s four steps.

The podcaster said that most people have to start more than one company to reach their goal, including Munger.

“Munger was in his 40s before he was doing full time what he was put on the Earth to do.”

Munger became the Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway in 1978 and is now the right-hand man to Buffett. The position came after a meeting between Buffett, Munger and two friends that led to the two connecting over talking about stocks.

Munger had coincidentally worked at Buffett & Son, a grocery store owned by Buffett’s grandfather, as a teenager.

With Munger on board, Buffett changed some of his investing principles, including concerns on diversification. Munger was able to get Buffett to not limit himself to the teachings of Benjamin Graham.

“Buy wonderful businesses at fair prices,” Munger told Buffett.

The concept was to buy businesses that throw off lots of cash, and then use the cash to invest in and buy other businesses. With Munger helping with investments, Buffett was convinced to invest in Coca-Cola KO, a decision he may never have without Munger’s influence.

Going for great and surrounding himself with great people helped Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway immensely, and is one of the key pieces of advice he learned from Munger along the way.

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Photo: Nick Webb and Fortune Live Media on flickr