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Poor Charlie's Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T Munger [Hardcover]

Peter D. Kaufman
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Donning Co Pub; 2 Expanded edition (30 Dec 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 157864366X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578643660
  • Product Dimensions: 25.4 x 25.1 x 4.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 572,321 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Poor Charlie's Almanack (Expanded 2nd Edition) The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger Forward by Warren E. Buffett Edited by Peter D. Kaufman [ Authorized Chinese translation ] From 1733 to 1758, Ben Franklin dispensed useful and timeless advice through Poor Richard's Almanack. Among the virtues extolled were thrift, duty, hard work, and simplicity. Subsequently, two centuries went by during which Ben's thoughts on these subjects were regarded as the last word. Then Charlie Munger stepped forth. - Warren Buffett From the Foreword to Poor Charlie's Almanack

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Coffee Table Worldly Wisdom 20 Jun 2008
By William Cohen VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
It's not easy to get hold of this oversize book, you can't browse it in the bookshop. Still, I'm a speechwriter and I find Charlie Munger's business speeches are full of stories, insight and humour, so I decided to order the book and take the risk.

It was a very rewarding bet. It's rather like a book you'd buy about your favourite sportsman. There are loads of tributes to him, and it goes through his best speeches and articles. It's a bit schmaltzy in places, but he's an American - and a very brilliant American at that.

What I love about Munger is that he sends you off in all directions. He is in favour of a multidisciplinary approach to all problems. He quotes an example that you're average professor of poetry usually very unworldly. Why? Because he probably doesn't take other 'models' of the world particularly seriously.

Munger says we have to know lots about science, lots about arithmetic, lots about business, lots about history and lots about psychology. Studying these subjects gives you different perspectives, which give you the flexibility to think about problems in a sensible and pragmatic way. Woe unto you if you get wrapped up in powerful ideologies. They poison your judgement. He puts a high premium on getting rich slow, and avoiding misery.

Since I regard myself as intellectual, but I found my university course extremely limiting, Munger is the best tutor I never had. All his ideas are beautifully illustrated by stories and pictures in this book. He has saved me the cost of doing an MBA! Munger points out the folly that besets institutions and powerful groups.

Also at the end he gives you a reading list of his favourite books. I have already purchased some of them through Amazon, and they're extremely good.
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By Alex
Format:Hardcover
The book is merely a summary of Charlie Munger's speeches and although it contains lots of amazing advice it is very expensive. I recommend you buy it second hand from amazon.COM and have it shipped over because it's cheaper
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
86 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth Reading then Studying! 21 Jun 2006
By Kevin Kingston - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Poor Charlie's Almanack; The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger

This book gives us the opportunity to learn how one of the greatest financial minds of our day views the world. Amazingly Charlie shares not only his opinions but his thought process and belief system. The book walks you through how Charlie arrives at the decisions that have made him a billionaire. I continually study both Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett , including reading the Berkshire Hathaway annual letter to shareholders which is packed with so much timely insight I'm surprised they don't charge for it.

Some of my favorite thoughts and quotes, which are elaborated on in the book are:

Pg 6 - "Read all the time"

Pg 45 - The Lollapalooza Effect - Charlie coined this phrase as a way of describing an idea, concept or business strategy that literally grows exponentially due to favorable coinciding events.

Pg. 40 -"Be prepared, act promptly, in scale, on a few major opportunities."

Pg 48- Jessy Livermore, "Big money is made in the waiting"

Charlie then goes on to explain that he would sit on 10-20 million at a time in T-Bills just waiting.

Pg 49 - "It takes character to sit there with all that cash and do nothing. I didn't get to where I am by going after mediocre opportunities"

- "It's like looking for a horse that pays 50/50 and has a 3-to-1 chance of winning."

Pg 60 - "The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't" - Mark Twain

On Coumpound Interest:

"Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world" - Einstein

"Never interrupt it unnecessarily" - Munger

"...'tis the stone that will turn all your lead into gold...Remember that money is of a prolific generating nature. Money can beget money, and its offspring can beget more" - Benjamine Franklin

"If you took our top fifteen decisions out, we'd have a pretty average record. It wasn't hyperactivity, but a hell of a lot of patience. You stuck to your principles and when opportunities came along you pounced on them with vigor." - Munger

On page 61 - 64 there is an investment checklist that is a must read!

"There are worse situations than drowning in cash and sitting, sitting, sitting. I remember when I wasn't awash in cash and I don't want to go back. - Munger

"The wisdom of the wise, and the experience of ages, may be preserved by quotations" - Isaac Disraeli

"It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read a good book of quotations" - Sir Winston Churchill

Pg. 88 - "You need to have a passionate interest in why thing are happening. That cast of mind, kept over long periods, gradually improves your ability to focus on reality. If you don't have that cast of mind your destined for failure even if you have a high I.Q." - Munger

"Our game is to recognize a big idea when it comes along, when it doesn't come along very often. Opportunity comes to the prepared mind." - Munger

A good portion of the book is focused on the importance of multiple mental models and the lack of them in academia.

Another hot topic that shows up more than once is the importance of reading.

"In my whole life, I have known no wise people who didn't read all the time-none, zero. You'd be amazed at how much Warren reads-and at how much I read. My children laugh at me, they think I'm a book with a couple of legs sticking out" Munger

On page 136 the book moves into 10 talks at schools, clubs and foundations that are packed with so much insight and tips on living a happy, healthy and prosperous life that I can't even go into it without adding another 10 pages to this review.

There are close to 50 books mentioned and referenced that I will list and provide links (and some comments) to on my Blog- The Real Estate Investors Blog at Bloglines

This book should be read and studied and kept as a reference tool. It may very well take several years for all the powerful concepts to be fully understood and another few years to work your way through Charlie's reading list, but trust me it will be a worth wile adventure and you will be a changed person shortly after commencing.

By Kevin Kingston, author of A 20,000% Gain in Real Estate
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One-stop shop for worldly wisdom 18 Feb 2007
By Scott - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book took me a looong time to read, but that's because its nearly 500 pages are so saturated with information and original ideas, you will have plenty to learn and will want to fully explore and take advantage of all Charlie has to offer. You MUST be an active reader to derive any benefit from the framework he has laid out. I don't think a quick skim will do it any justice, or even be worth your time.

The whole purpose of this book is to provide you with a strong mental foundation for success in life... I call it the "inner game." Only then are you truly ready to take on the world in business or make astute investment decisions. For specific investment advice, look no further than Buffett. What you get from Munger is both harder to obtain, and more important to master. Application of investment technique should be the easy part. Key teachings I found important were:

the importance of using the multi-disciplinary approach and interrelated mental models formed from the big (often elementary but rarely used), important ideas of various disciplines

realizing your mental circle of competence, and specializing

the lollapalooza effect

avoiding the man-with-the-hammer problem, and many other psychological tendencies he discusses

his emphasis on ethical behavior (where else do you find this?)

comparison of the stock market to the pari-mutuel betting system

the idea of betting big when the odds are in your favor (Buffett's idea as well)

What I like most is that he has a no-nonsense attitude, and this quality of genuineness makes him more likeable, and easier to learn from. He has a dominant personality and seems more opinionated and less mellow than Buffett, so yes, sometimes he may come across as arrogant, but I'm sure it's hard to downplay such a great life. But anyway, he is supposed to be the teacher, so you must put your own ego aside.

You also get a nice biography at the beginning, giving you some background information about him. Of course Charlie, a self-proclaimed "biography nut," would agree that learning about the lives of other successful people is very important step to success. Since he has led a very honorable life, it would be a great thing if people try to walk in his footsteps.

My only complaint is that somebody decided to put huge boldface italicized duplicate excerpts in the middle of most pages, absolutely killing the flow of the text and slowing me down considerably. I would have tried to simply ignore them, but some of the quotes were not duplicates from the text so I read every single one. I didn't mind the extra information offered in the margins, and in fact found most of it both helpful and interesting. The caricatures were amusing. Remember Charlie is supposed to be a down-to-earth guy, so they wanted to give the book this kind of feel. Also, there was a lot of redundancy of ideas, due to the fact that ten separate speeches were compiled and the topics often overlapped, but I know the value of repetition, and if it has helped drive the key ideas home, it has served its purpose well.

Overall, I'd recommend it to anyone. It stands alone as a masterpiece. For serious investors, I think you will possess the greatest investment capabilities if this book is supplemented with readings from Buffett and Graham. The results of this powerful combination, used effectively, is certainly what Munger would call a lollapalooza effect.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book--Worldly Wisdom 24 Jan 2007
By NR Henderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is an absolutely fabulous book. I love it. I am an avid follower of Charlie Munger, going to the annual meetings etc. So I thought that this might only be a rehash of existing speeches and talks, which admittedly form the bulk of the text. But it is much more--Munger has revised and added to some of his talks. The editor, Peter Kaufman, has added other materials. Munger's son's comments about dinner table conversations with his children (and grandchildren) are worth the price of the book.

Simply, the book imparts the wisdom of Charlie Munger, from the dinner table to the boardroom.

Now to the bad: as marvelously as the book portrays Munger's wisdom, graphically it is one of the silliest books I have ever seen. The illustrations and pictures range from trite to dreadful. They are poorly chosen, poorly reproduced, sophomoric at best: a picture from Star Trek to illustrate second order consequences, inane caricatures of Munger and Buffett, etc. Visually, it is ghastly.

Nevertheless, this is still a 5 star book. So, here is a new Franklinesque proverb: Don't judge a book by its illustrations.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical Life Lessons 11 Jan 2008
By Carmen Matthews - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
When this book first arrived, my first thought was,"Okay. This definitely is not a book to read in between meetings - it's a heavy one, that's for sure."

As I read, "Choose clients as you would friends," and "Read all of the time," I became ready to connect with who Charlie Munger and Warren Buffet really are.

Choose Clients as you would Friends:
That makes sense, because if you love whatever you're in business to do, and you're talking to a prospect, objections would be minimal, and you both would know that you have provided your client something that would make his or her life better.

Read All of the Time:
I'd have to say, "Go beyond just reading. Be a demanding reader, and be willing to reread your books, more than once, because if you've read them well, you are in a different place, and you deserve to continue to grow."

This is a great book for those who are sincerely asking, "How did he become who he is?"

Influenced by Cicero, Benjamin Franklin, Tom Sawyer, Charlie Munger's, "Poor Charlie's Alamanac" should appeal to those who prefer:

1. Biographies;
2. Social Commentaries; or,
3. Business Tools.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound business wisdom....it leaves you wanting more 9 Aug 2007
By Justin Boone - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book is really amazing. Definitely one of the top 5 or 10 best business books that you could read in your lifetime.

Charlie Munger, multi billionaire Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, shares his inner most thoughts, ideas, decision making processes...this is how you really make money. It makes those other "financial experts" (the people you see on tv with books, boardgames, spouting wisdom such as "pay yourself first", "save and invest 10% of your income") look like a bunch of kindergartners. They've made the bulk of their money selling books, tapes and seminars.

Munger's on the Forbes 400, he doesn't have to sell books to make money. I think the public is very lucky, just to get a glimpse into his mind.

It's a very dense book, 500+ pages, it's not something that you can read on a weekend and apply monday morning. Cialdini's book "Influence" is pretty much a pre requisite, you've got to be familiar with some of the key pyschological principles to get any usage out of this book.

His mental models approach to business and investing will give you a huge edge in life. You'll come up with answers that no one else has.

It reminds me of what Jay Abraham teaches (a big marketing consultant from California). He talks about tunnel vision vs funnel vision, and that most people who spend their whole lives in a particular industry, tend to do about plus or minus 10-20% of what everyone else in that industry does. You have to go outside of your industry for breakthroughs.

It's a similar thing here, what they teach you in college is terrible. Everyone is walled off from one another, deparments tend to overuse their own models and underuse important ones that could be right down the hall.

I think Munger is being nice in his critique of higher learning. What they teach is just daffy, I have an undergrad degree in finance, and all I read about was "rational man".

There's no people in any business texts. No one lies, cheats or steals. There's no personality clashes. Imagine being in a business class and asking the professor..."but, there's no people in any of these books. Can you bring in a pyschology professor to discuss how personalities clash in business or the misjudgements that people make?". It's all terribly mistaught, nothing is cohesive or interconnected in any way.

For example, in finance, you see all these people killing themselves trying to explain the latest real estate bubble. Straining, straining..is it a bubble, or isn't it?? Is it really going to pop?

I think the fatal flaw academics make is thinking that the deeper they go in their own field, the more answers they'll come up with. Maybe, maybe not. But they should be looking outside of their own field for some answers.

In the case of the real estate bubble, you can run down the pyschological principles laid out, and you've got a nice model to explain it.

-People are naturally overconfident and overly optimistic about everything.
-Aided by social proof, you see everyone else buying real estate and making money. You read about Joe and Jane Smith in the paper and they just made $50,000.
-Rising prices create a certain amount of conditioning in the buyer. In the big stock bubble of the 90's, everyone got conditioned to "buy the dips" because prices always went back up.
-Aided by authority (Cialdini explains these principles beautifully). A learned professor comes out and says real estate is going to keep going up. UCLA's Anderson School does a 2 year study, and says, "yes, prices will continue to rise". Well, if Anderson says it, it must be good.

Then prices start to dip, and you've got simple denial. People don't want to believe the truth. "Soft landing" is a nice word for denial and wishful thinking. And then ultimately the pain gets too great, and you have to sell.

I'm sure there are plenty of other factors involved (A big lollapalooza in Mungers terms). The timing can be complicated. But you'll never get that answer going deeper into a finance book.

The book leaves you wanting alot more. More examples would have been nice.

"Invert" I still don't quite get. A quote from the book.."many problems can't be solved forward". That could be a profound answer, but you don't know what to do with it.

Still, an amazing book. A must have for any business/investing library.
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