Thursday, September 6, 2018

Charlie Munger on ignorance removal

From the 2014 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting:
There’s no question about the fact that [See's Candies] main contribution to Berkshire was ignorance removal. And it’s not the only big contributor to ignorance removal.  
If it weren’t for the fact we were so good at removing our ignorance, step by step, Berkshire would be practically nothing today.  
What we knew originally wasn’t enough. We were pretty damn stupid when we bought See’s. We were just barely smart enough to buy it. 
And if there’s any secret to Berkshire, it’s the fact that we’re pretty good at ignorance removal. 
And then later in that meeting, he mentions another useful habit to cultivate:
I spoke earlier about the desirability of removing your ignorance piece by piece, and there’s another trick, which is scrambling out of your mistakes. And we’ve been quite good at both, and it’s enormously useful. 
Imagine Berkshire, a textile mill sure to go broke because power costs in New England were about twice as high as they were in TVA country, a sure-to-fail department store, and a trading stamp sure to be forced out of business by change in mode. Out of that comes Berkshire Hathaway. Talk about scrambling out of mistakes, I think of what we might have done if we’d had a better start. (Laughter)