Charlie Munger's Biography: His Path to Investing

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Poor Charlie's Almanack" by Charles T. Munger. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What does Charlie Munger’s biography tell us about his relationship with Warren Buffet?  Why did he join Berkshire Hathaway?

Charlie Munger’s biography shows that he met Warren Buffett when they were working together in Buffett’s grandfather’s store as kids, and reunited when Charlie returned to Omaha after the death of his father. He joined Berkshire Hathaway when Buffett convinced him that investing is a better fit for his talents than law.

Read on to discover the important details from Charlie Munger’s biography.

Charlie Munger’s Biography

The Poor Charlie’s Alamanac book summarizes Charlie Munger’s biography into the following. bullet points:

  • Charlie grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, sharing the hometown with Warren Buffett. He worked for Buffett’s grandfather in his grocery store; Warren worked there a few years later.
  • Charlie liked raising hamsters and traded them with other kids. This was early practice in negotiating.
  • In high school, Munger was captain of his high school’s varsity rifle team.
  • He enrolled in University of Michigan to study math, but in 1943 left to serve in the military during World War II. 
  • He started his career as a lawyer. He was admitted to Harvard Law School without a bachelor’s degree and graduated in 1948.
  • He had 3 kids with his first wife Nancy Huggins, whom he divorced in 1953. His son Teddy died of leukemia soon after at the age of 9. He met Nancy Barry and married in 1956.
  • After law school, he joined a law firm, then founded a law firm in 1962, then built an investment firm called Wheeler, Munger, and Co. Over the years of 1962 to 1975, Munger’s firm generated annual returns of 19.8%, compared to 5% for the Dow.
  • Charlie returned to Omaha when his father died and met Warren Buffett at a dinner party. Buffett convinced Munger that law was a bad use of his talent.
  • Munger joined Berkshire Hathaway after deciding he didn’t want to manage funds directly for investors, and instead to build equity through a holding company. He liquidated Wheeler, Munger, and Co. in 1976. He had shares in Blue Chip Stamps and Diversified Retailing, which then converted into Berkshire Hathaway stock.
Charlie Munger’s Biography: His Path to Investing

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Here's what you'll find in our full Poor Charlie's Almanack summary :

  • A collection of Charlie Munger’s best advice given over 30 years
  • Why you need to know what you’re good at and what you’re bad at to make decisions
  • Descriptions of the 25 psychological biases that distort how you see the world

Joseph Adebisi

Joseph has had a lifelong obsession with reading and acquiring new knowledge. He reads and writes for a living, and reads some more when he is supposedly taking a break from work. The first literature he read as a kid were Shakespeare's plays. Not surprisingly, he barely understood any of it. His favorite fiction authors are Tom Clancy, Ted Bell, and John Grisham. His preferred non-fiction genres are history, philosophy, business & economics, and instructional guides.

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