Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger on friendships and the benefits of choosing to be a high-quality person
During the Q&A Sessions of the 2002 Berkshire Hathaway’s Annual Meeting, Buffett and Munger shared some important life advice on friendships:
Question: Hello, Mr. Buffett and Mr. Munger. I am 12 years old. My question is not about money. It’s about friendship. How do you remain friends and business partners for so long? And what advice do you have for young people like me in selecting true friends and future business partners? Thank you.
Munger: Well, that’s a wonderful question you’ve asked, because Warren and I both know some very successful businessmen who have not one true friend on earth. And rightly so.
Buffett: That’s true.
Munger: And that is no way to live a life. And if by asking that question, you’re asking: how do I get the right friends? You are really onto the right question.
And when you get with the right friends, if you’ve worked hard at becoming the right sort of fellow, I think you’ll recognize what you have and then all you have to do is hang on.
Buffett: The real question is: what do you like in other people? I mean, what do you want from a friend?
And if you’ll think about it, there are certain qualities that you admire in other people, that you find likeable, and that cause you to want to be around certain people.
And then look at those qualities and say to yourself, “Which of these is it physically or mentally impossible for me to have?” And the answer will be none.
I mean, it’s only reasonable that if certain things that attract you to other people that, if you possess those, they will attract other people to you.
And secondarily, if you find certain things repulsive in other people — whether they brag or they’re dishonest or whatever it may be — if that turns you off, it’s going to turn other people off if you possess those qualities.
And those are choices. You know, very few of those things are in your DNA. They are choices.
And they are also habits. I mean, if you have habits that attract people early on, you’ll have them later on. And if you have habits that repel people, you’re not going to cure it when you’re 60 or 70.
Buffett: It’s not a complicated equation. And, as I remember, Benjamin Franklin did something like that one time. Didn’t he list the qualities he admired, and then just set out to acquire them?
Munger: Absolutely. He went at it the way you’ve gone after acquiring money.
Buffett: They’re not mutually exclusive.
Munger: No [they are not].
Their advice in a nutshell:
Figure out the qualities that you like in other people
They are the kind of friends you want. You may do like Ben Franklin did and actually list out their qualities
Be the person that demonstrates the very same qualities that you admire in other people
By having those qualities, you will likely attract like-minded and like-behaved people to you — they are the friends you are looking for. Moreover, just like Munger once said, “The safest way to try to get what you want is to try to deserve what you want. It’s the golden rule”
Once you have the friends you like, simply hang on to them