A Letter From The Chairman
December 20, 2013
As we all reflect on 2013 and look forward to 2014, I cannot help but remember the day I graduated from law school and had the very good fortune of having Charles T. Munger as our commencement speaker. I still can literally feel his humility, kindness, and grace and I vividly recall that he didn’t speak about big great things, and at the time, that was very curious to me. Instead he spoke about amazingly simple truths and lessons, many of which are engraved in the book Poor Charlie’s Almanack – The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger. Over the years, through my own successes and failures, I have found that in simple truths and lessons lie the greatest of all wisdom. While I greatly suggest this book to anyone reading this letter, I have decided to highlight three simple truths and lessons from it that I believe will lay the foundation for a great, lasting organization that we can all be proud of in the years to come.
On forming a partnership with Warren Buffet, Munger writes, “There was no formal partnership or contractual relationship – the bond was created by a handshake and backed by two Midwesterners who understood and respected the value of one’s word.” Remember, Munger at the time was a practicing attorney whose trade was drafting contractual agreements, which makes this ever more powerful. The simple truth is that a person is only as good as their word. And if it is true that an individual is only as good as their word, it therefore can be deduced that collectively an organization is only has good as the word of its people. This includes every person in every job and in every situation, no matter how small or big. Every interaction and promise adds up to equal the sum of the value of our word as an organization. Let’s make sure its good.
On handling mistakes and knowing when to cut your losses, Munger writes, “Part of what you must learn is how to handle mistakes and new facts that change the odds. Life, in part, is like a poker game, wherein you have to learn to quit sometimes when holding a much-loved hand.” This lesson as been a very prominent one in my life all the way back to my first job as an equity trader. I very quickly learned that the best traders were not necessarily the ones who made the best bets, but the one’s who knew when to cut their losses and move on. Have you ever seen a person in the midst of gambling truly believe that if they just put in a little more that they will win it all back. This is the exact psychology that casino’s bet on. And it is understandable, as it is very easy to get committed to a situation that we have expended great resource, time and emotion in; however, that can also be a sure way to go broke. Let’s learn from our mistakes quickly and not be afraid to cut our losses, no matter how much we love the hand.
On objectivity and not holding steadfast to already held conclusions, Munger writes, "The life of Darwin demonstrates how a turtle may out-run the hares, aided by extreme objectivity, which helps the objective person end up like the only player without a blindfold in a game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey." While most people work hard to keep original conclusions true, Darwin's working method was to cherish evidence that tended to disconfirm any theory he already had. This method is what led him to ultimately rid himself of any blindfold he may have otherwise been burdened with in the game of science. Let us strive to be objective and constantly learn and grow, individually and together, so that we may be the turtle who wins the race.
Prashanth Mysoor, Founder & Chairman