Leadership

Warren Buffett's partner Charlie Munger reveals how much of an impact luck has on success

While success takes hard work and persistence, luck also plays a major role, says Warren Buffett's longtime business partner Charlie Munger.

In a conversation at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, the 93-year-old billionaire and vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway advises students on how to become successful.

While you can be the most deserving and intelligent person, "there's also a factor of luck that comes into this thing," he says.

"It's amazing how if you just get up every morning and keep plugging and have some discipline and keep learning," Munger adds, "it's incredible how it works out okay."

Yet he advises against setting goals for yourself that are too high, like becoming a billionaire or becoming the future president, because the odds are highly against you.

"Much better to aim low," suggests the billionaire, who notes that his wealth was accidental. "I did not intend to get rich. I wanted to get independent. I just overshot."

Notably, his work with Berkshire Hathaway came about through a chance meeting. Although Munger had worked at a grocery store owned by Buffett's grandfather when he was young, he never met Buffett until many years later.

Munger briefly returned to Omaha, Nebraska after the death of his father. During that trip, he was introduced to Buffett through mutual friends. They hit it off instantly and Buffett soon persuaded Munger to leave his law career and pursue investing, which he did.

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

However, Munger says that luck isn't the only factor to achieving success. "The people who get the outcomes that seem extraordinary are the people who have discipline, and intelligence and good virtue plus a hell of a lot of luck," he explains.

Fellow Omaha-native Buffett has also touted the critical role luck has played in his life and told MBA students at the University of Maryland in 2013 that winning the "ovarian lottery" helped determine his success.

"Warren Buffett has stressed the importance of luck in his life, focusing not only on where he was born but also when," David Kass, a clinical professor of finance for the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, toldCNBClast year.

Although "there are a lot of people that just luck into the right place and rise," says Munger, being unlucky can lead to problems.

"There are a lot of very eminent people who have many advantages," he says, "and they've got one little flaw or one bit of bad luck and they're mired in misery all their lives."

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