Highlights from Charlie Munger's Conversation with Todd Combs (2022 Singleton Prize for CEO Excellence)
"I am a guy who has been able to take moderate obsession and a long attention span and turn them into pretty good results. A long attention span will help you a lot, if you're reasonably smart."
Yesterday I found this amazing fireside chat between Charlie Munger and Todd Combs, recorded in April 2022 for the ‘Singleton Prize for CEO Excellence’. You can listen to the full conversation here or read a transcript.
Munger recounted one of his last conversations with legendary CEO Henry Singleton who tried to sell Teledyne to Berkshire — but he wanted stock. That was not going to fly with Buffett and Munger (“New subsidiaries would usually be bought with cash, not newly issued stock.”) Munger responded:
Henry, we're not going to issue stock or give away all our business that we know and like and understand to get in another business we don't know and don't understand. It can't happen.
Regardless, Munger is a huge fan of Singleton:
You could say that a life like Singleton's, what it demonstrates is the vast power in being remorselessly rational.
You can find my highlights from Munger’s conversation with Combs below.
What kind of a mind, in designing a dormitory, imitates a cruise ship? Well, that's what my mind does, and it's coolly logical. That's the kind of mind Singleton had, too. He was just coolly logical.
On the nature of capitalism (and a must-read book).
On the chemistry of booms and busts.
On inflation (“It won't be my problem, if I'm honest. It may be your problem.”)
On investing: intelligence vs. temperament.
You just need one or two great businesses (“The people who tend to get the best results are fanatics.”)
Half the secret of life: obsession and a long attention span
Charlie’s life changed at age 7, when he realized even smart people were not acting rationally all the time.
“I almost worship reason.”
Look for the Wooden system (“If you can find a mini-Singleton or a mini-Buffett, and play them when they have a hell of a run, that can be a very good way to invest.”)
Look for people with the fiduciary gene.
A little perspective on life.
The secret behind the windowless dorms: Munger borrowed the idea from cruise ships.
“There are people who will make you feel that you're born into the wrong species.”