Careers

Warren Buffett's partner Charlie Munger says there are '3 rules for a career'

Warren Buffett's longtime business partner Charlie Munger has made a name for himself as one of today's most successful investors.

But investing wasn't always in the cards for Munger, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway: He studied math at the University of Michigan before training as a meteorologist at Caltech Pasadena. He then went on to graduate magna cum laude from Harvard Law School.

Today, at age 93, Munger is worth an estimated $1.5 billion and claims to be an even better investor than he was at age 50.

In "The Tao of Charlie Munger," author David Clark collected timeless Munger quotes on life, business and building wealth. Munger, who doesn't mince words, also offers some straightforward career advice, like this: "Three rules for a career: 1) Don't sell anything you wouldn't buy yourself. 2) Don't work for anyone you don't respect and admire. 3) Work only with people you enjoy."

Charlie Munger, Berkshire Hathaway
Lacy O’ Toole | CNBC
Charlie Munger, Berkshire Hathaway

Clark expands on rule No. 1: "If we don't like, understand, or believe in a product, we are going to be a disaster when we try to sell it. Great salespeople believe in their products. That is one of the secrets of their success."

Rules two and three go hand in hand and emphasize the importance of surrounding yourself with like-minded, high achieving people. As author Thomas C. Corley found in his five-year study of self-made millionaires, the most successful people "make a point to limit their exposure to toxic, negative people." Ultimately, "you are only as successful as those you frequently associate with," he says.

Keep in mind that Munger's three rules are most effective if you've chosen a career path that interests you. "I have never succeeded very much in anything in which I was not very interested," the billionaire says. "If you can't somehow find yourself very interested in something, I don't think you'll succeed very much, even if you're fairly smart."

Buffett agrees that passion pays off. "Being successful at almost anything means having a passion for it," he said during a recent conversation with Bill Gates. "If you see somebody with even reasonable intelligence and a terrific passion for what they do and who can get people around them to march, even when those people can't see over the top of the next hill, things are going to happen."

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Don't miss: 10 insights on living a rich life from Buffett's right-hand-man Charlie Munger