Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger on what they admire about each other
On how they both lack of “automatic reverence” to “authorities”:
Munger: What I like about Warren is the irreverence. We don’t have automatic reverence for the pompous heads of all civilization.
Buffett: We were kind of always that way. We were a little more extreme. I’ve learned to behave a little bit better. Charlie really hasn’t learned much better. I just knew instantly Charlie was the kinda guy that I was gonna like, and I was gonna learn from. But, you know, it wasn’t anything calculated, a decision or anything like that. It was natural. And, we have had nothing but fun.
On their first impressions about each other:
Buffett: I knew when I met Charlie, after a few minutes in the restaurant, that, you know, this guy was gonna be in my life forever. I mean, we were gonna have fun together. We were gonna make money together. We were gonna get ideas from each other. We were gonna both behave better than if we didn’t know each other.
The timing was propitious for the two to meet. Charlie’s beloved father had died, and Buffett’s mentor, Benjamin Graham, had retired from investing and moved from New York to Los Angeles. As Graham became less interested in investment problems, Warren felt the loss. He needed a new sounding board. It may be precisely because Munger was so similar to Graham in his thought processes — honest, realistic, profoundly curious, and unfettered by conventional thinking — that he captured Buffett’s attention in the first place.
By the time Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba and the youthful John F. Kennedy was elected U.S. president, Buffett and Munger had become “mental partners,” a relationship that involved no contract or titles — at least in the beginning. It was more like a “brother act” than a business arrangement, Buffett said. Based on mutual trust and confidence, it grew discussion by discussion, meeting by meeting, deal by deal.
On what they admire the most about the other nowadays:
Rebecca Quick: You two have been friends for over 60 years, what’s one thing that you really admire about the other?
Munger: Well, I like the humor, and all that, but dependable is really important.
Quick: Warren, what do you admire about Charlie?
Buffett: Really, just the kind of person he’s been. He has contributed to individuals, and also to society. It goes well beyond buying a stock and selling it higher. He’s designed dormitories and helped build them. He’s worked at hospitals and to understand how they can be made better, and serve more people, and do it at less cost. You know, it’s an uphill fight all the time, but Charlie’s worked on big problems, and he doesn’t need to.
And Charlie has never shaded anything he’s told me since we met, in terms of presenting it to me in a different way than reality, or he’s never done anything I’ve seen that’s self-serving, in terms of [not] being a partner, or in any kind of way. He makes me better than I would otherwise be. I don’t wanna disappoint him.
Munger: But you’ve had the same thing, in reverse.
Buffett: Yeah, well, it works. It does work that way. I mean, it’s better to associate with people who are better than you are.