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The Munger Technique: The Best Way To Improve Yourself

We’ve all heard about the magic of compounding interest. Something equally powerful is mental compounding interest. Here’s some advice from the investor Charlie Munger that I read in the book, University of Berkshire Hathaway:

“He (Munger) got the idea to add a mental compound interest as well. So he decided he would sell himself the best hour of the day to improving his own mind, and the world could buy the rest of his time. He said it may sound selfish, but it worked. He also noted that if you become very reliable and stay that way, it will be very hard to fail in doing anything you want.”

I’ve been calling this idea the Munger Technique since I learned about this. But when I mention this to my students, team, or friends, the majority assumes that Munger is talking about a morning ritual.

That’s a wrong assumption. Munger said that he sold himself the best hour of the day. He used that hour to improve his mind. 

When do you improve your mind?

Let’s think about that for a minute. Again, this has nothing to do with morning routines. For the past several years, people in personal development have been giving a lot of attention to morning routines.

I’m personally not a morning person, nor do I have a strict routine. Sure, I avoid checking my email, watching the news, or consuming useless content, but I don’t have a set routine in the morning before I start working. I know that some people like that structure. For example:

  • Wake up at 7 AM

  • Drink water

  • Meditate

  • Journal

  • Read

  • Go

And it must be in that order. That’s not me. I immediately start working. As long as I can tune out all the distractions of the world, I consider it a good morning. But when I read this advice from Munger, I asked myself two questions: 

  1. When do I improve my mind?

  2. How do I improve my mind?

For me, improving my mind means improving my key skills: Writing, persuasion, decision making. I read books, make notes, and try to connect the dots between everything I learn. When I try to improve my mind, I only want to learn. The doing comes later. That’s how I do it. 

But when do I work on improving my mind? Until now, I believed that I should do that in the morning. After all, that’s our best time, right? Well, not always.

What’s your best hour of the day?

One of my key beliefs is that life is cyclical. I learned this from studying successful investors like Howard Marks.