If you are new to the world of Charlie Munger and Mental Models then this page is for you!
It contains everything you need to get started on the path of learning how to make better decisions, become more rational, and best of all become more successful at anything you choose.
Here you will learn what his system of Mental Models can do for you.
Who Is Charlie Munger?
His business partner is one of the richest people in the world: Warren Buffett.
He is a billionaire, a philanthropist, and a master at investing.
Great, But Why Do I Care About Some Rich Guy?
While Charlie is interesting because of his success, what we can learn from him has more to do with how he became successful.
In short: Charlie Munger is a learning machine.
He has taken the phrase 'lifelong learning' to the highest level, having studied all of these disciplines enough to gather the useful core concepts from each:
... and the list goes on. He worked hard and turned himself into one of the few true polymaths.
OK, So He's A Smart Guy. So What?
So, having spent the time and effort to learn the key ideas across all categories of knowledge he realized he had gained a truly amazing advantage over his peers.
By learning the most useful concepts in every discipline he started to be able to see patterns and solve problems better than the people around him ... including those that were experts in their fields.
He could sit in a room full of people smarter than himself and beat them at their own game simply because he had knowledge from more domains at his disposal.
But What Are Mental Models?
Mental Models are how Charlie refers to the key ideas in each discipline. Each idea is a concept (or model) about how the world really works that can be used to understand and solve real problems and predict real outcomes.
Charlie says that the best way to succeed is to learn as many of these Mental Models as you can, and then synthesize them to the point that you truly understand them. You can't just memorize them though, you have to understand them deeply enough that you can start to see the interactions between them.
This is what he calls building a Latticework of Mental Models:
You have to learn all the big ideas in the key disciplines in a way that they’re in a mental latticework in your head and you automatically use them for the rest of your life. If you do that, I solemnly promise you that one day you’ll be walking down the street and you’ll look to your right and left and you’ll think "my heavenly days, I’m now one of the few competent people in my whole age cohort." If you don’t do it, many of the brightest of you will live in the middle ranks or in the shallows.
Picture a house being built. You need a solid base, a supporting structure, a roof, walls, and a door. You need electrical cabling, plumbing, and a way to cool and heat the structure.
The idea is to use the best materials and put them together in a way that makes the strongest, most usable dwelling. You want to build something that will last a long time and be useful in as many situations as possible.
Building a Latticework of Mental Models is done much the same way. You need a set of strong, useful concepts from each discipline and you need to be able to tie them together in such a way that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Do this and you can run mental circles around most of the people around you.
Where Do I Start?
The best way to get started with Mental Models is to first learn from Charlie himself. He has given a number of speeches over the years and each teaches its own lesson that is well worth learning.
Probably the best place to begin is with his speech on Elementary Worldly Wisdom. In this speech he describes the concept of a Latticework of Mental Models and provides some useful examples:
After that, the next speech to learn about should be his talk on the Psychology of Human Misjudgment. Charlie is big on psychology and the ways in which the human brain tends to make irrational and suboptimal decisions:
I Want More! What's Next?
If you've made it through the speeches above and are eager for more, there's no better place to continue than with Poor Charlie's Almanack from Intermountain Books.
This book is entirely dedicated to understanding Charlie Munger and his Mental Models. It has quotes from Charlie and detailed descriptions of a number of the models he uses every day.
Even better, in the back of the book there is a copy of each of his important speeches over the past couple decades. It has the Worldly Wisdom Speech above, an updated version of the Psychology of Human Misjudgment, and many others that are just as interesting to read.
If you truly want to be able to think circles around your peers like Charlie does, the best place to start is Poor Charlie's Almanack.
You can find a link to it in the book list below.
Beyond that I have put together some resources to help you get started.
Since Charlie learned most of his Mental Models from reading, the first resource is the list of books that have helped me develop my own Latticework of Mental Models:
And if you want to see what Charlie has been reading, check out my list of books recommended by Charlie Munger:
I've also put together a list of the Mental Models I have collected over the years. It is in checklist form and can be found here:
Lastly, it's important to have the basics of critical thinking down to help us learn and remember mental models as efficiently as Charlie. You can get a head start on this by taking these two Udemy courses:
The Rest Is Up To You
Be warned: once you start on the path of Mental Models you may experience these symptoms:
- Infectious Curiosity
- Understanding sprouting in unexpected places
- Frequent bouts of Success
Your friends and family may wonder how you're achieving so much while at the same time teasing you about the books you read and the notes you take, but you'll shrug it off good-naturedly because you know they mean well but just don't understand the relationship between the two.
However, if one of them should ask you about Charlie Munger or Mental Models, you'll be ready to explain and set them on the same path to success.