Jun 26, 2014 11:45 am |

“There is not much of a difference between a man who cannot read and the one who doesn’t”. Mark Twain.

“Go to bed smarter than when you woke up.”
— Charlie Munger

Today’s blog might come across as a drag and parental gyaan, however, I am sharing with you all a personal experience and this one piece can/will hold you good for the rest of your life.

While reading and researching on Warren Buffet and his ways, I came across this fact which opened my eyes to the hard work and effort he puts in.

When asked how to get smarter, Buffet once held up stacks of paper and said he “read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge builds up, like compound interest.”

Simple, to the point and potently True. That is how KNOWLEDGE builds up. 500 pages at a time, compounding annually exploding into intelligence and intuition.

One person who took Buffet’s advice, Todd Combs, now works for the legendary investor. He took Buffet’s advice seriously and started keeping track of what he read and how many pages he was reading.

The Omaha World-Herald writes:
Eventually finding and reading productive material became second nature, a habit. As he began his investing career, he would read even more, hitting 600, 750, even 1,000 pages a day.

Combs discovered that Buffet’s formula worked, giving him more knowledge that helped him with what became his primary job — seeking the truth about potential investments.

It is very convenient and easy to put it on LUCK and over used jargon, “he is a genius”. He was not born as one, he became genius by voracious reading.

Neither Warren nor I is smart enough to make the decisions with no time to think,” Munger once told a reporter. “We make actual decisions very rapidly, but that’s because we’ve spent so much time preparing ourselves by quietly sitting and reading and thinking.”

Charlie Munger says, “I don’t know anyone who’s wise who doesn’t read a lot”.

It is not easy, easy is to come home, slouch on your couch and watch two and a half men, eat dinner, sleep and go to office the next day, stare at the computer, check meaningless mails, attend meaningless meetings and repeat the process until dead.

You don’t gain knowledge doing that. You just get old.

All this can change, but it needs hard work.

How to read a book is also important.

The Excuse.

“ But I seriously do not have time to read” is as old as the hills.
Sure you don’t have time because you got your priorities wrong. To Quote Robin Sharma in his book The Monk Who Sold His Safari “it is like a race car driver saying, he doesn’t have time to fuel it”.

You cannot race without gas, similarly without developing a multidisciplinary mental model accumulated through worldly wisdom, you cannot succeed in life. You go through life with your limited set of information, taking horrendous decisions based on that. Its like being a one legged man in an ass kicking contest. Your handicap ensures that you will be mediocre forever.

Human beings are not rational animals and rather rationalizing ones. We can rationalize spending hours on twitter and facebook. Waiting 40 minutes for your never on time girlfriend/boyfriend, sweating for hours over a hate mail or a stinker, day dreaming in the bathroom, gossiping sessions around the water cooler, 30 minute smoking breaks But NO, You surely DON’T have 60 minutes in the entire day for reading.

Commenting on what it means to have knowledge, in How To Read A Book, Mortimer Adler writes: “The person who says he knows what he thinks but cannot express it usually does not know what he thinks.”

Can you explain what you know to someone else? Try it. Pick an idea you think you have a grasp of and write it out on a sheet of paper as if you were explaining it to someone else. Chances are, if you are not a well read person, you will not be able to articulate what you think you might know.

What you read is equally important. I met a women at a party proudly flaunting her reading prowess. On being asked to divulge the details, she said mills and boon, romantic novels, chetan bhagat and others.

With all due respect to literature and fiction, this light sundry reading is not knowledge. It is just a poor man’s TV.

I am referring to reading to grow. To develop a mental model of success. To develop a mental framework to have an independent thought process. I am referring to reading science, psychology, evolution. I am referring to reading about successful lives, autobiographies.

I have been on a reading spree of sorts in the last few years. To get you started in the life long journey, here is a small list to get your feet wet.


The Influence by Robert Cialdini
Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
Warren Buffet’s annual shareholder letters


The Last Freedom by Jiddu Krishnamurthy

Untethered Soul


Mental model

Poor charlie alamnack by Charlie Munger
Thinking fast and slow by Daniel Kahneman
Black Swan by Nasim Taleb

Benjamin Franklin.

Not a comprehensive list by any means, but you got to start somewhere.