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.