'Charlie And I': Warren Buffett Reminisces About Late Friend, Whom He Credits As 'Architect Of Today's Berkshire'

Zinger Key Points
  • "When Charlie and I first met ... it was if twins who had been separated at birth were reunited," Buffett says.
  • The billionaire says the duo had a lot of fun doing a number of things, including playing golf and tennis together.

Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting on Saturday started on a solemn note, with a tribute to Warren Buffett’s trusted lieutenant and friend Charlie Munger, who passed away late last year just short of his 100th birthday.

Brother From Another Mother: Signaling the start of the meeting, Buffett introduced himself and turned the attention of the audience to a photo of himself and Munger, stating that it was taken in Savannah, Georgia, early in 1982.

“When Charlie and I first met … it was if twins who had been separated at birth were reunited,” the billionaire said.

There were a few important differences between the two legendary investors that people may have missed, he said.

“I was only interested in whether things worked, Charlie wanted to know how things worked,” Buffett said.

Giving an example, the billionaire investor said he would turn on a switch and if the TV or light bulb went on, he could care less about what had caused it to do so.

“Charlie, however, would want to understand every aspect of how the generator worked, how electricity traveled to his home, the merits of AC versus DC,” he said, while jokingly quipping that Munger understood electricity better than Thomas Edison ever did.

The Berkshire CEO also shared that Munger liked designing homes. When they first met in 1959, Munger was in the process of designing and constructing the house where he would reside for the rest of his life. Munger also expressed his desire to design a home for Buffett in Santa Barbara on a piece of property inherited by Berkshire, he mentioned.

Buffett said Munger’s “architectural thoughts” led to the Berkshire Hathaway of the present day. Munger first became a director of Berkshire in 1978. Buffett bought controlling interest in Berkshire through a small partnership in 1965, and Munger, at that time, did not have a penny invested in the company, he revealed. At that time, Munger told his friend that the purchase was plain dumb but also suggested what needed to be done.

Over time, the two worked together to achieve Munger’s vision, Buffett said.

“Charlie in effect became the architect of today’s Berkshire,” the investment guru said. “The carpenters and the others, that’s me, are needed but the architect is the genius who provides the blueprint.”

“Berkshire has become a great company with a unique group of owners. The directors of Berkshire are the trusties of the structure Charlie designed. That lives beyond his lifetime and will live far beyond mine.”

See Also: Buffett Says No Other Americans Would Have Had To Pay Even A Dime In Federal Taxes If This Had Happened

Living In Buffett’s Mind: During the meeting, there was a moment when Buffett redirected a question to his heir apparent Greg Abel, whom he accidentally called “Charlie.” The billionaire then corrected himself and said, “I’m so used to … I actually checked myself a couple of times already but I’ll slip, I’ll slip again.”

One More Day With Munger: “We always lived in a way where we were happy with what we were doing. Charlie liked learning, he liked a wide variety of things. He was much broader than I was,” Buffett said, in response to a young boy’s question as to what he would do if he had one more day with Munger.

While the two didn’t desire to be like each other, they did have a lot of fun doing a number of things, including playing golf and tennis together. More importantly, Buffett said they had as much fun or even more with things that failed.

“Because then we really had to work and work our way out of them and and, in a sense, there’s more fun having somebody that’s your partner and digging your way out of a foxhole,” Buffett said.

He also said they did not doubt each other at any point.

“If I’d had another day with him, we’d probably do the same thing we were doing the earlier days but and we wouldn’t have wanted to know that we only had one day,” Buffett said.

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