Charles Munger: “We’ve Never Succeeded At Anything That Was Really Hard Where We Didn’t Have Much Aptitude For It”

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During the recent Berkshire Hathaway Meeting, Warren Buffett and Charles Munger had a great interaction regarding their early working life and eventual careers. Here’s an excerpt from the meeting:

WARREN BUFFETT: But I still preferred working for myself. And, of course, Charlie and I both worked for my grandfather, and we just didn’t find it that interesting. I don’t remember, why’d you ever decide to go to work at the store, Charlie? Charlie worked there in 1940, I worked —

CHARLIE MUNGER: Well, I worked just for the experience of working, I didn’t need the money. My father gave me an ample allowance and I also had a private business. So, I was kind of working as a lark in your grocery store.

WARREN BUFFETT: Twelve hours a day?

CHARLIE MUNGER: Yes.

WARREN BUFFETT: At — for a lark?

CHARLIE MUNGER: Yeah, as a lark, yes.

WARREN BUFFETT: Do you consider that a good investment of your time? (Laughs) I mean, just looking back on it?

CHARLIE MUNGER: Well, I’d never done it before, and I wanted to have a little of that experience. And I wasn’t going to do it very long.

WARREN BUFFETT: Hmm. (Laughter) That sure as hell wasn’t the reason I worked. (Laughs)

CHARLIE MUNGER: Well — you know, I could give that young lady the advice. Figure out what you’re bad at and avoid all of it.

WARREN BUFFETT: Yeah. (Laughter)

CHARLIE MUNGER: That’s the way Warren and I found our profession.

WARREN BUFFETT: Absolutely. You know, we —

CHARLIE MUNGER: We failed at everything else.

WARREN BUFFETT: We worked at everything till we found the ideal employers: ourselves. (Laughs) You know? And that was something we really admired.

CHARLIE MUNGER: I know: Warren said, “Work for somebody you admire.” (Laughter) The only one he knew was the one he was shaving.

WARREN BUFFETT: I think he was self-employed.

CHARLIE MUNGER: Because he and I were shaving.

WARREN BUFFETT: But it isn’t bad advice. It isn’t bad advice. I mean, if they’ve got an option. I mean, Charlie went into the service in whatever year it was, in the ’40s, and he didn’t really have a choice of who he was going to work for. And, as I remember, it didn’t really work out that well (Laughs) who you worked for, Charlie, did it?

CHARLIE MUNGER: Well — if you stop to think about it, there are two things that neither one of us has ever succeeded at: One, we’ve never succeeded at anything that didn’t interest us, right?

WARREN BUFFETT: Right.

CHARLIE MUNGER: And we’ve never succeeded at anything that was really hard where we didn’t have much aptitude for it.

WARREN BUFFETT: Yeah. And we’ve been doing whatever we pleased for 60 years.

CHARLIE MUNGER: Yeah, we did.

WARREN BUFFETT: And, you know, we have fun in our way, and —

CHARLIE MUNGER: I’m just amazed. You’d think, if you’re smart, you could do things that don’t interest you well. But you can’t.

WARREN BUFFETT: Well, I’ve certainly got a lot of examples in my own case. But we won’t get into them here.

You can watch the entire afternoon session of the meeting here:

https://buffett.cnbc.com/video/2022/05/02/afternoon-session—2022-meeting.html

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