Each year, Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger entertain tens of thousands of individual investors at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting. I went last year and would recommend the trip to anyone who’s a big Buffett fan. You should probably do it soon, since Buffett is 86 and Munger is 93.
Buffett gets all the attention, but many (including me) consider Charlie the real star of the show. Buffett has spent years speaking in public and has become a master of giving an answer without actually saying anything. Munger’s filter is nonexistent, so he’s a lot more fun.
Munger fans gather each year in Los Angeles at the Daily Journal Corporation (NASDAQ:DJCO) annual meeting to attend a Berkshire-type gathering but in a far more intimate setting. Munger — who is Daily Journal’s Chairman — answers questions for a few hours before the meeting wraps up.
Like with Berkshire’s meeting, the Daily Journal meeting is no hold’s barred. People can ask Munger pretty much whatever they want.
Fortunately for those of us who don’t want to go to Los Angeles, a number of different investors go and live-tweet the whole thing, condensing the whole thing into a series of fun sound bites. Then guys like me read them to learn a little more about investing from a true master. Isn’t life grand?
Here’s the best of what Munger had to say at the 2017 Daily Journal annual meeting, along with commentary from some hack who’s not nearly as funny as he thinks.
You forgot as smart as he thinks too.
Thanks, Italics Man.
On delayed gratification
I lived my whole life with people who have deferred gratification. They don’t have fun, but they get wealthy.
This is really personal finance in a nutshell, and one of the things I remind myself about on pretty much a daily basis. I’m all about getting rich. That’s what personal finance means to me.
It probably won’t be the same for most people. They want to drive a nice car or live in a nice house or travel all the time. There’s nothing wrong with those things, but they ultimately keep you from getting richer.
My priorities are clear. So are everyone else’s. And never the two shall meet. As long as everyone realizes that, we can live in harmony.
Apparently I’m a hippie now. Ugh.
I don’t think working over multiple disciplines is a good idea for most people. I do it because it’s fun. Most should specialize… Even if you specialize, you should still spend 10-20% of your time learning the big deals of the major disciplines.
As much fun as it is to be a generalist, I agree 100% with Charlie here. If you know a business inside and out, the world is your oyster. It’s so much easier to get ahead if you just focus on what you’re good at. There’s just too much competition out there. In everything.
In many areas of life the only way to win is to grind away and work hard for a very long time.
You don’t have to tell me twice, Charlie. I think just about everybody (myself included, btw) is capable of working a lot harder than they do. In many cases the only thing separating a successful person from a regular guy is work ethic. Brains can only take you so far.
Am I comfortable with a non-diversified portfolio? Yes. The Mungers have three stocks: Berkshire, Costco, and Li Lu’s fund.
And here I am spouting diversification like a sucker. Hey, if Charlie has a concentrated portfolio, everyone should have one, right?
Look, I get what Charlie’s saying here, but I just can’t bring myself to have three stocks in my portfolio. It would stress me out too much.
Notice that Charlie is the Daily Journal Corporation’s Chairman and he doesn’t own any stock? That’s a little interesting.
I don’t tell my grandchildren about how to seize business opportunities. I don’t have that much hope.
I’m not sure if that was a knock on his grandkids or about society as a whole, but it still made me laugh. People live-tweeting the meeting said Munger’s daughter thought that was hilarious, for what that’s worth.
If your advice is worth anything you should be pretty rich pretty soon, and if you not why am I paying you?
Charlie’s talking about hedge funds here, but a lot of the same stuff applies to mutual funds. I still don’t think it’s impossible to find a mutual fund that’s worth its fees — here are five that have consistently beaten the market over time — but it’s far easier to put your money in an index fund. Or, better yet, be a little smarter about indexing and put your money to work across the world. There’s nothing that says you have to pour all of your money into overvalued Canadian and U.S. stock markets.
Berkshire succeeded on two decisions a year.
This seven word quote is probably my favorite, and it’s perfect for today’s overpriced markets. It’s silly to opine on everything. Be patient and wait for your pitch. It’s something a lot of investors need reminded of, including me.
Let’s wrap it up
The nice thing about both Buffett and Munger is they’re kind enough (or vain enough, depending on your perspective) to do these things. It allows us to learn stuff without leaving our chairs, which is one of the best things about living in 2017.
Munger is the best. If y’all need me, I’ll be looking for transcripts of previous years.
Edit: Here’s the whole meeting on Youtube. God bless technology. As always, watch on 1.5x speed.