Li Lu on Charlie Munger's Greatest Influence

A recent interview

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Aug 08, 2018
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In a recent interview with one of China's top finance magazines, Li Lu was asked what Charlie Munger’s greatest influence on him was. This is what Li Lu said (his original words are in Chinese, and below is my loose translation):

Li Lu: We have been partners for about 15 years – from 2003 to now. Our partnership has been very close, very pleasant. We have a teacher-student relationship but we are also good friends and partners. We always have endless topics to discuss every time we get together. I’ve got along very well with his family members, including his children.

Mr. Munger has great influence on me. When I first met him, he was already almost 80 years old. He’s experienced some setbacks since then. For instance, his health condition is getting worse and worse so that he could no longer enjoy many of the activities he used to enjoy before. For example, he used to enjoy playing golf from time to time but now he couldn't play golf any more.

The biggest blow during the past 15 years, was the passing away of his second wife Nancy, who had been with him for more than 50 years when she died in 2010. Less than a year later, he almost became completely blinded due to an accident. He’s already lost sight on one of his eyes previously due to a surgery operation.

So I’ve witnessed him recovering from such hard blows one by one. Yet throughout all these blows, I’ve never seen him being pessimistic or desperate. He’s never complained about those terrible blows either. His attitude towards them is to take them as graceful and competent as he can. He’s objective and rational in everything.

There is a Chinese saying that goes, "One should neither be pleased by external gains, nor be saddened by personal losses." Charlie is one of those people who can achieve such a state of mind.

At the same time, Charlie is also curious and enthusiastic about all issues, especially about how the business world works. This curiosity and enthusiasm has continued to this day. At age 95, he doesn't work less every day than when I first met him 15 years ago. When he finds interesting books and materials, he will even read them until 4 a.m. in the morning until he finishes them, sometimes in one go.

People who have great enthusiasm for the world often do not reach the state of "harmony between man and nature;" those who can reach the state of "harmony between man and nature" generally do not have such great enthusiasm for worldly wisdom. But Charlie can reach both states. The basic spirits of reason, rationality, science, humanity and progress of the Enlightenment have been fully embodied in him.

Therefore, the biggest influence Charlie has on me is his ability to navigate between these two states of minds, which can only be achieved through continuous cultivation. I know a lot of people, and no one is like Charlie in that way. I wish I could achieve his level some day.