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The Secret behind Charlie Munger’s Success: Work For Yourself an Hour Each Day

Charlie Munger Cartoon

Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger are two of the greatest investors in the world, and are undoubtedly very successful and incredibly smart. And while some of their skill is certainly natural talent, they didn’t exactly develop into multi-billionaires over night.

In Warren Buffett’s biography The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, Buffett explains how Charlie Munger became successful long before the duo ever even met each other:

Charlie, as a very young lawyer, was probably getting $20 an hour. He thought to himself, ‘Who’s my most valuable client?’ And he decided it was himself. So he decided to sell himself an hour each day. He did it early in the morning, working on these construction projects and real estate deals. Everybody should do this, be the client, and then work for other people, too, and sell yourself an hour a day.

Jonathan Ping from My Money Blog elaborates:

Now, I’m sure just being a successful lawyer would be plenty for many people. But if you aren’t satisfied with your current situation, why not work for yourself an hour each day? Instead of just idle dreaming, set aside specific time for action. Perhaps the key is small chunks of time, but at regular intervals.

Example. If you’re an administrative assistant making $10 an hour and you don’t want to be, don’t just sign up to work another hour for $10. Working longer is not necessarily the best idea. Instead, give up the $10 (or $8 after taxes), and improve yourself in some way or create something so you’ll be making a lot more. There is no one solution, look into yourself. Nursing school? Investment books? Finding a mentor?

Shane Parrish of Farnam Street points out the importance of sacrificing short-term comforts for your long-term goals during this time:

It’s important to think about the opportunity cost of this hour. On one hand you can check Twitter, read some online news, and reply to a few emails while pretending to finish the memo that is supposed to be the focus of your attention. On the other hand, you can dedicate the time to improving yourself. In the short term, you’re better off with the dopamine laced rush of email and Twitter while multitasking. In the long term, the investment in learning something new and improving yourself goes further.

As Munger explains,

I have always wanted to improve what I do, even if it reduces my income in any given year. And I always set aside time so I can play my own self-amusement and improvement game.

Think about it. What could YOU accomplish if you sold yourself an hour every day?

Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger

Edited by Peter Kaufman

Poor Charlie’s Almanack contains the wit and wisdom of Charlie Munger: his talks, lectures and public commentary. And, it has been written and compiled with both Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett’s encouragement and cooperation. So pull up your favorite reading chair and enjoy the unique humor, wit and insight that Charlie Munger brings to the world of business, investing and life itself.

The Tao of Charlie Munger

Compiled by David Clark

Words of wisdom from Charlie Munger—Warren Buffett’s longtime business partner and the visionary Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway—collected and interpreted with an eye towards investing by David Clark, coauthor of the bestselling Buffettology series.