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RIP Charlie Munger

By Erin Clerici - 30 Nov 2023 521 0 comment
RIP Charlie Munger

The world lost an investing legend this week. Billionaire Charlie Munger, the right-hand man to Warren Buffett, died peacefully on Tuesday just shy of his 100th birthday.

I had the pleasure of witnessing the banter between Munger and Buffett at the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting back in 2013 when they were just (ha!) 89 and 83 years old. It was like a comedy show, with them both chomping on See’s Candies and answering question after question about what happens when they both croak, and that was 10 years ago!

In all seriousness, it was a valuable experience for a college kid who was gifted a share of BRK-B stock ($360 per share) as a gift to get an invite to the annual meeting and actually attend. The same invite, I must add, that BRK-A ($545,900 per share) shareholders get. I got to see Munger and Buffett in action, learn about the company I’m invested in, participate in exciting events hosted by Berkshire Hathaway, catch a glimpse of big wigs like Bill Gates and meet Crazy Warren himself!

More about Munger

Munger made big bucks long before joining Berkshire Hathaway as a real estate attorney and through an investment partnership of his own. He joined forces with Buffett in 1978 and together they built an investment dynamo.

“Berkshire Hathaway could not have been built to its present status without Charlie’s inspiration, wisdom and participation,” Buffett said in a statement.

Buffett credits Munger for weaning him away from “buying very so-so companies at very cheap prices” to “buying wonderful businesses at fair prices.”  This philosophy was very apparent with huge investments in Apple and Coca Cola.

While Charlie Munger was often regarded for his insightful and serious wisdom, he did have a humorous side as well. Here are a few quotes that showcased his wit:

  1. "The first rule of a happy life is low expectations."
  2. "You don’t have to pee on an electric fence to learn not to do it."
  3. "I try to get rid of people who always confidently answer questions about which they don't have any real knowledge."
  4. "I think that, every time you saw the word EBITDA, you should substitute the word 'bullshit' earnings."
  5. "The best armor of old age is a well-spent life preceding it."
  6. "The iron rule of nature is that you get what you reward for, not what you intend."
  7. "The desire to get rich fast is pretty dangerous."
  8. "The idea of excessive diversification is madness."
  9. "You're not going to get rich renting out your time."
  10. "I've avoided doing anything that I've felt strongly was a bad idea. I've also done a few things that seemed good, but turned out to be bad. That's life."

So, what is next for Berkshire Hathaway?

Greg Abel and Ajit Jain became vice chairmen back in 2018 in preparation for this day, and the eventual departure of Buffet, and have started taking more prominent public roles, particularly at the more recent annual meetings.

"There is no question that the relationship Warren has with Charlie is unique and it's not going to be duplicated," Jain said at the 2021 shareholder meeting. "We don't interact with each other as often as Warren and Charlie do. But every quarter we will talk to each other about our respective businesses."

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