Stick to your Circle of Competence

Charlie Munger once commented that "in order to disagree with somebody you must first understand their argument better than they do."

The most common way people lose money is to overestimate how clever they are and how much they know. Even after a fifty-year investing career, both Warren Buffett and Munger read over 500 pages a day and still limited themselves to a small circle of competence where they can explain the other side's argument better than they can.

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A sustainable competitive advantage

Warren Buffett states that if you aren't willing to own a stock for ten years, don't even think about owning it for ten minutes.

Human nature is most concerned with short term loss aversion, not long-term gain seeking. Because we are so short-term oriented, it's an enormous advantage if you can operate on a longer time than the competition. Having a ten, twenty, and thirty-year track record of ethical behaviour is a very defensive career position.

It is an important skill to see the world as it is and not as we wish it should be.

None of the risks you take daily are likely to lead to death, but we act as though they would. An accurate understanding of reality is essential for producing good outcomes.

Future and Past for successful investors

“The future will not be as good as the past but it doesn’t have to be.” This statement from Charlie Munger summed up his thoughts on public markets. Public market in the U.S. will not repeat the success of the late 90s in the 21st century.

Successful investors seem to focus on smaller, private markets, where it's more difficult to invest and where there's less competition. It's worth noting that advances in communication technology and the huge amount of capital created in the second half of the 20th century have created a more competitive public market.

Not many people have knowledge in their head both through a long life and reading widely, and across private industries, government, etc., to be able to form a broad perspective.

Taking your money and starting from the perspective of how to make a better tire will yield a very different result to asking "how do I maximize returns on capital?"

Researcher Robin Dunbar says, on average, we can only maintain a trusted social group of one hundred and fifty people. We can change which people, brands, and ideas we trust, but the number stays the same.

We are exposed to an increasing number of brands each year, but with no more trust and attention to hand out. The result is a shift in how companies grow and how marketing works. Warren Buffett shows a change from "push" marketing to "pull" marketing. We are entering a trust shortage. The individuals and brands which are "long trust" will win.

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Circle of Competence

Each of us, through experience or study, has built up useful knowledge on certain areas of the world. Some areas are understood by most of us, while some areas require a lot more specialty to evaluate. 

It is important to honestly define what we know and stick to those areas. 

Our circle of competence can be widened, but only slowly and over time.

Understanding your Circle of Competence: How Warren Buffett Avoids Problems

fs.blog

  • Rule No 1: Never lose money.
  • Rule No 2: Never forget rule No. 1.

If you work from a loss, it's much harder to get back to where you started, not to mention earn gains.

10 Best Money Tips From Warren Buffett of All Time

huffpost.com

Buffet's Way

Buffett follows the Benjamin Graham school of value investing, which are :

  1. Look for securities whose prices are unjustifiably low based on their intrinsic worth.
  2. Look at companies as a whole - company performance, company debt, and profit margins, whether companies are public, how reliant they are on commodities, and how cheap they are.

Warren Buffett: How He Does It

investopedia.com

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