The Smartest Guy In The Room

Surprisingly few people recognize the name Charlie Munger.

Your Dad who has a white-collar job and reads the Wall Street Journal daily has certainly heard of – and likely idolizes – Munger’s boss, billionaire Warren Buffett.

But your cool cousin with the tattoos who recently sold her tech company for 100 million bucks, she’s hip to Charlie Munger.

Munger is the Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate controlled by Buffett, and some would argue the true secret of that megalith’s success.

Uncle Charlie has quite the pedigree. He attended the University of Michigan before dropping out to enlist in the US Army Air Corps, achieving the rank of second lieutenant. Munger scored so high on his Army General Classification Test that he was sent to Cal Tech in order to study meteorology. He later applied and was accepted to Harvard Law School despite never achieving an undergraduate degree.

Initially working as a real estate attorney and founding his own law firm, Munger later switched focuses, investing in real estate and other business. Besides his work with Berkshire, he is also the Chairman of the Daily Journal Corporation and a director at Costco Wholesale. He spends his “free time” as an amateur architect. He is currently 98 years old.

Besides his wild success, the reason people in-the-know gravitate to Munger is for his simple, tactical, almost folksy approach to business practices and advice. In fact, both he and Buffett make becoming a billionaire seem so simple that anyone with two nickels to rub together could turn those ten cents into a fortune in no time.

Tenets like “never lose money,” “get high value at a low price, “avoid credit card debt,” and “invest in yourself” are the repeatable actions that they verify have led to Berkshire Hathaway’s success and is the key to yours.

As good as this advice is, there is one specific gem from Munger that, while he meant it for investing, is also incredibly relevant to training.

“The first rule of compounding is to never interrupt it unnecessarily.”

Now, what Uncle Charlie is talking about here are investments. If you have an investment that is making money and reinvesting that money, your wealth will grow sustainably as long as you don’t touch it. Break the chain and you are severely hampering the long-term outcomes.

And this, dear reader, is as true for training as it is for stacking cash.

While it is necessary to track performance and progress in order to get the most out of your workouts, a much more impactful goal is to just make sure you reliably show up and put in a good effort every time.

To put it more simply, adding ten kilos to your squat is absolutely wonderful. But it pales in comparison to squatting every week for five years.

This compounding of training will not only lead to bigger and better outcomes, it’s the pathway to the ultimate outcome, for training to just be a part of who you are rather than something that you do.

At its highest level, training (or working out or exercise – however you want to categorize it) is the most impactful when it reaffirms who you are and helps you achieve belief in yourself. There is no bench press weight or six-pack abs or number of pounds lost that can trump that.

I fully appreciate that, for most people, that is a hard thing to see in the beginning. Hell, I first went to the gym because I didn’t want to look terrible in my wedding photos and I wanted to feel more comfortable taking my shirt off at the beach.

But somewhere along the way, after achieving those goals to varying degrees, the thought of training for a specific outcome just faded away. Training near-daily every week for the past twenty years is just who I’ve become. And, in addition to being a good Dad, husband and business owner is one of the things I am most proud of.

Training has proven to be an anchor in my life and a keystone habit that has allowed me a pathway and system to accomplish so much more. And I, more than anything, want that for you.

Training, like investing, is a long term game. And if you are lucky enough to be one of the success stories, you owe it to the world to give something back.