Quote of the week:

“You don’t have to be brilliant, only a little bit wiser than the other guys, on average, for a long, long time.” – Charlie Munger 

An ode to Charlie’s operating system

To the general public, Charlie Munger was widely known as the billionaire partner to Warren Buffett. But those of us in the niche world of value investing know that Charlie was so much more: a modern-day philosopher, a critical student of human behavior, and a passionate champion for the idea of continuous learning. “Spend each day trying to be a little wiser than you were when you woke up,” he once remarked. 

As the obituaries and recollections pour in, I thought I’d share one of my favorite Charlie Munger talks: his 2007 USC Law School commencement address. The wide-ranging talk covers his famed mental models, his approach to multidisciplinary thinking, and his view of life’s greatest ambitions. Ultimately, the speech boils down to one question: How do we live a meaningful life? “It’s such a simple idea,” he says. “It’s the golden rule so to speak: You want to deliver to the world what you would buy if you were on the other end.” He continues: 

“There is no ethos, in my opinion, that is better for any lawyer or any other person to have. By and large the people who have this ethos win in life and they don’t win just money, not just honors. They win the respect, the deserved trust of the people they deal with, and there is huge pleasure in life to be obtained from getting deserved trust.”


The creative, compounding power of focus

“A Hungarian psychology professor once wrote to famous creators asking them to be interviewed for a book he was writing.  One of the most interesting things about his project was how many people said ‘no.'” This anecdote appears in a smart, short essay by Kevin Ashton, the British technologist who co-founded the Auto-ID Center at MIT. The general thesis of the piece—which I’m sure many of you have observed and experienced firsthand—is that eliminating distractions is the prerequisite to achieving great work. (Here’s an older piece by our founder Arne Alsin on this subject, by the way.)

Ultimately, Ashton’s key observation is that creativity isn’t necessarily a congenital trait—it’s simply a function of rigid time management and focus. “Time is the raw material of creation,” Ashton writes. “Wipe away the magic and myth of creating and all that remains is work: the work of becoming expert through study and practice, the work of finding solutions to problems and problems with those solutions, the work of trial and error, the work of thinking and perfecting, the work of creating.” He continues: 

“Creating consumes. It is all day, every day. It knows neither weekends nor vacations. It is not when we feel like it. It is habit, compulsion, obsession, vocation. The common thread that links creators is how they spend their time. No matter what you read, no matter what they claim, nearly all creators spend nearly all their time on the work of creation. There are few overnight successes and many up-all-night successes. Saying ‘no’ has more creative power than ideas, insights and talent combined… The math of time is simple: you have less than you think and need more than you know.”

A few more links I enjoyed: 

“Huang prefers an agile corporate structure, with no fixed divisions or hierarchy. Instead, employees submit a weekly list of the five most important things they are working on. Brevity is encouraged, as Huang surveys these e-mails late into the night. Wandering through Nvidia’s giant campus, he often stops by the desks of junior employees and quizzes them on their work. A visit from Huang can turn a cubicle into an interrogation chamber. ‘Typically, in Silicon Valley, you can get away with fudging it,’ the industry analyst Hans Mosesmann told me. ‘You can’t do that with Jensen. He will kind of lose his temper.'”
“In this episode, I explain how the brain engages in creative thinking and, based on that mechanistic understanding, the tools to improve one’s ability to think creatively and innovate in any area. I discuss how convergent and divergent thinking are essential for generating creative ideas and provide three types of meditation tools (open monitoring meditation, focused attention meditation & non-sleep deep rest; NSDR), which improve our ability to engage in these creative thinking patterns in specific and powerful ways.”

This information should not be considered a recommendation to purchase or sell any particular security. It should not be assumed that any of the investments or strategies referenced were or will be profitable, or that investment recommendations or decisions we make in the future will be profitable. This article contains links to 3rd party websites and is used for informational purposes only. This does not constitute as an endorsement of any kind. While Nightview uses sources it considers to be reliable, no guarantee is made regarding the accuracy of information or data provided by third-party sources. Nightview Capital Management, LLC (Nightview Capital) is an independent investment adviser registered under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. More information about Nightview Capital including our investment strategies and objectives can be found in our ADV Part 2, which is available upon request.