Using Learning Techniques to
Download Charlie Munger’s Mental Models

If you’re like me, you often come across information that makes you think “damn, this is good! I gotta remember that and use it”.

If you’re also like me, often you forget what it is you wanted to remember.

That’s what happened when I flipped through the pages of “Poor Charlie’s Almanack”.

In it, Peter D. Kaufmann has included a speech by Charlie Munger called “The Psychology of Human Misjudgment”.

In this speech, Charlie Munger talks about 25 different tendencies that influence our decision making.

Being obsessed about improving my decision making, learning these 25 tendencies by heart was a no-brainer.

But remembering 25 tendencies can be quite the challenge (if not impossible).

When remembering information, most people use 2 options:

1: They try to remember to the best of their ability.

Easy, but very unreliable.

2: Write down what they want to remember.

This is very reliable but inconvenient.

Luckily, there’s a 3 third option!

That is to use mnemonics!

That’s a fancy word for learning technique.

The problem with mnemonics is, that they are often used for things like remembering a deck of cards or a long string of numbers.

While impressive, it’s more or less useless.

But the techniques do work!

And if we apply them to remember important information, like Charlie Munger’s 25 tendencies, magic happens.

By using simple, and simple, memory techniques, I’ve been able to remember all 25 tendencies for years – and use them regularly when making decisions.

Mnemonics are the closest thing you come to mental magic.

The best part?

It’s simple, fun, and fast.

In this (huge) guide, I show you the exact learning techniques you need to use to remember anything you’d like.

To show you how powerful this is, I’m going to show you how to remember all 25 tendencies to instantly improve your decision making.

This whole adventure takes just 30 minutes, and will hopefully change your mind as it did with mine!

So, let’s get on with downloading Charlie Munger into our brain 🙂

Who's Charlie Munger?

Not sure who Charlie Munger is? First of all, shame on you!. Just kidding.

Second, I’m glad you asked!

Charlie Munger is one of the most fascinating humans in the world. He’s often referred to as the “right hand of Warren Buffett” (which doesn’t do him justice).

He’s a billionaire, philanthropist, and much more.

What I find most interesting about Charlie Munger, is his mind.

According to Warren Buffet, he has the “world’s quickest 30-second mind”.

Charlie Munger obviously has an otherworldy intelligence, but he’s also worked very hard at cultivating it for close to a century.

One of Charlie Munger’s key themes throughout his life has been to use great ideas from several disciplines to understand the world better.

This he calls having “multiple mental models”.

His talk, “The Psychology of Human Misjudgment”, presents several mental models from the field of psychology.

So, if we can be just 1% as sharp as Charlie Munger, we’re going to get ahead of the curve.

What better place to start than learning 25 psychological tendencies hand-picked by Charlie himself.

The tendencies 1-25

Here’s the list of all 25 tendencies.

Read them all now!

  1. Reward and Punishment
  2. Liking/loving
  3. Disliking/hating
  4. Doubt-avoidance
  5. Inconsistency-avoidance
  6. Curiosity
  7. Kantian Fairness
  8. Envy/jealousy
  9. Reciprocation
  10. Influence-from-mere-association
  11. Pain-avoidance/denial
  12. Excessive self-regard
  13. Overoptimism
  14. Deprival-superreaction
  15. Social-proof
  16. Contrast-misreaction
  17. Stress-influence
  18. Availability-misweighing
  19. Use-it-or-lose-it
  20. Drug-misinfluence
  21. Senecence
  22. Authority
  23. Twaddle
  24. Reason-respecting
  25. Lollapalloza

Test your recall

Without looking at the list, how many can you remember RIGHT NOW?

Write down as many as you recall!

How many did you get? 5? 10? I highly doubt you got them all.

Imagine if I asked you in a week to list these tendencies. Chances are that your recall would be MUCH worse.

Mikkel Sciegienny, creator of MorningQuestions.com

How to use memory techniques to instantly 10x your recall

Memory techniques are the closest thing you get to real, mental, magic.

I’ve used different memory techniques for the past 15 years to remember everything from presentations, to books, and now Charlie Munger’s 25 tendencies.

There are tons of memorization techniques.

The trouble is, that most show you how to remember a deck of cards or a long string of numbers. While impressive, it’s mostly useless.

What I’m about to teach you, is the fastest and easiest way to remember lots of information.

Mikkel Sciegienny, creator of MorningQuestions.com

It all happens in 3, easy, steps.

Let’s start with step 1!

Step 1: Creating an avatar

An avatar is what you associate with what you want to remember.

Let’s use the first tendency, the “reward/punishment tendency” (more about what it means later).

What’s the first thing you think about when you hear the word “reward”?

It might be a little girl getting a popsicle for behaving well. That’s your association (or “avatar” as I call it).

Now, what about “punishment”?

Perhaps, it’s a little naughty boy being scolded for misbehaving.

Now you have 2 avatars that each represent “reward” and “punishment”.

Now you have 2 avatars that each represent “reward” and “punishment”.

Mikkel Sciegienny, creator of MorningQuestions.com

Time for step 2…

Step 2: Turning avatars into action

Now take the 2 avatars and turn it into a scene where some action is happening.

We might imagine, that the girl gets a popsicle from her mom.

Right next to the girl, is the boy, let’s say it’s her brother. The boy’s father is scolding the boy for breaking his phone.

It’s important to make the avatars vivid, clear, and a bit unusual. So, perhaps make the popsicle oversized and the boys crying extremely loud.

The more vivid, clear, and unusual the avatars, the better.
Mikkel Sciegienny, creator of MorningQuestions.com

These avatars and the scene now represents the “reward/punishment” tendency.

By associating what you want to remember (short-term memory) with something you already know (long-term memory), you’re creating a link.

These avatars, placed in a scene, bridges the gap between your long-term memory and short-term memory.

Now, you only need 1 more thing… to place it!

Step 3: Placing  your avatars

You’ve created an association (step 1), what I call an “avatar”.

You’ve created action by turning the avatars into a scene (step 2).

Right now, your 2 avatars, and the entire scene, float around in your head – without an anchor.

Mikkel Sciegienny, creator of MorningQuestions.com

Without an anchor, the avatars and scene will soon be forgotten.

We need a way to make it stick.

So, we’re going to create an anchor!

This makes finding your avatars easy.

Start by imagining a place you’re familiar with.

Mikkel Sciegienny, creator of MorningQuestions.com

Let’s say your home.

Walk up to the front door (in your mind).

Now place the avatars and scene, right in front of the door. Really, imagine how the girl is smiling because she’s getting that popsicle from her mom. Perhaps she’s laughing at her brother, who’s being scolded by their father for breaking his phone.

Now continue through the door and walk through your entire home.

(Always walk clockwise.)

Go to the kitchen, then the bathroom, on to the living room, etc.

Finally, walk back to where you started – at the front door.

What do you see?

That’s right, the boy and girl!

And what do they represent?

Reward… and punishment!

You’ve just turned the first tendency, reward/punishment, into something memorable – and you’ve made sure to anchor it to a place you know well.

Mikkel Sciegienny, creator of MorningQuestions.com

And that’s essentially how this works!

Simple, fun, and fast (especially when you start practicing it).

Before I show you how to remember all 25 tendencies using the techniques you’ve just learned, here’s a quick word on why this works so well.

Why memory techniques work

The memory techniques you’ve just taste-tested work so well because of 2 things.

1: You are AWESOME at remembering places and routes.

You remember places and routes automatically, without effort.

For instance, imagine a mall you go to.

I bet you can mentally walk through the entire thing without strain.

THAT’S INSANE!

*Some think we’re awesome at remembering places because, if there were to be some sort of emergency, we can easily get out of trouble.

2: Linking your long-term memory to your short-term memory

A lot of stuff enters your short-term memory and almost all of it vanishes again.

Only things we think are super important, goes to our long-term memory (and even then, we might forget important bits of information).

When we want to speed up the process of remembering information, linking our short-term memory to our long-term memory is the most efficient way to do so.

A quick recap of the techniques we use

  1. You read and learn about a tendency. That’s now in your short-term memory.
  2. You turn this new information into avatars (associations) that are located in your long-term memory, creating a link.
  3. Finally, you place these associations in a place you know well.

Now, all you need is to simply walk the route mentally, look at the associations, and those will instantly remind you of what you wanted to remember (in this case, a particular tendency).

So, think of this type of memory technique, as a simple way to get information in your short-term memory to your long-term memory – as fast and easy as possible.

Mikkel Sciegienny, creator of MorningQuestions.com

Downloading Charlie Munger’s 25 Tendencies

Alright, now you know how we’re going to remember Charlie Munger’s 25 tendencies.

Now I’ll show you exactly how to apply what you’ve learned so far, step-by-step.

Let’s begin!

Start by picking a place

The first thing you need is a location to mentally place the avatars and scenes you come up with.

I recommend using your home.

There are 25 tendencies, so you need 25 different places on your route to place the avatars.

Now, “different places”, simply means that you can imagine 1 place for itself.

For me, the table in our kitchen is a place. The kitchen sink is another place (even though it’s super close to the table).

As a rule of thumb, you need a bit of space between each place, at least 1 meter.
Mikkel Sciegienny, creator of MorningQuestions.com

Don’t worry, if your home is small. You can also use locations outside your home, like the hallway, street, etc.

The most important thing here is that you pick a place you’re very familiar with and that you can mentally walk through without any problems.

So, pick a starting point, and let’s look at the first tendency!

Tendency 1. Reward/Punishment

As you might hopefully recall, the first tendency is the reward/punishment tendency.

We repeat what is rewarded. What’s punished gets avoided.

How to remember this:

In a second, you’re going to create your avatar.

Before you do that, start by picking a spot to put the avatar.

Let’s say you place it at your front door!

Now, let’s create the avatar!

What’s the first association that comes to mind when you think “punishment”?

What about “reward”?

Those are your 2 avatars. Use them!

(If you can come up with 1 avatar to symbolize punishment and reward, that’s fine too!)

It’s very important that you use what FIRST comes to YOUR mind (no matter how weird or twisted it may be). Why? There’s a reason it was your first association. For your brain, this association makes sense, so let’s not make it harder for ourselves by overthinking things.

Mikkel Sciegienny, creator of MorningQuestions.com

Here’s how I see it:

I think of a horse carriage, where the horse master is feeding his horses carrots (reward).

When he’s done feeding them carrots, he starts whipping them (punishment).

I now have my avatars and scene.

Polishing the avatar

Before placing the avatars and scene, I’m going to make things more vivid.

I do this, because the more vivid, clear, and unusual the avatars and scene, the more it’s going to stick.

More specifically, I’m going to go through all senses and turn everything up a notch.

Downloading the first tendency

Okay, so while the above is SUPER weird, it’s also very vivid.

Essentially, we’ve created a very memorable scene, along with our avatars, and placed it on the first point of our route.

When we later come back to this point, it’s going to be easy to recall because of the vividity.

So, what you should have know is:

1. An avatar. This represents whatever association you have to the words “reward” and “punishment”.

2. A scene. Turn those avatars into action and make sure to make everything vivid.

3. Finally, place the scene in a specific location.

I know this might seem a bit overwhelming, but when we’ve walked through a couple of more tendencies, this will feel much more natural.

I know this might seem a bit overwhelming, but when we’ve walked through a couple of more tendencies, this will feel much more natural.

Mikkel Sciegienny, creator of MorningQuestions.com

Don’t overthink things!

Let’s keep practicing and move on to the second tendency.

Tendency 2. Liking/loving

The second tendency is the “liking/loving” loving tendency.

What this means:

We tend to focus more on WHO than WHAT.

People we like and love, influence us more than people we dislike.

We trust them more, we believe them more, we want to be with them.

Now, go to the next place on your route.

I recommend it be at least 1 meter from the first place you picked.

For me, the first place was right in front of the door to my home. The second place is in the kitchen. They are only a few meters apart, but distinct enough to be separate.

Mikkel Sciegienny, creator of MorningQuestions.com

Avatar

What’s the first thing you think of when you read the word “liking” and “loving”?

Or WHO are you thinking about?

For me, it’s my best friend Kasper. He’s really the greatest guy and I like and love him very much. So, does almost everyone else. To me, he’s the first “thing” that comes to mind when I think of “liking” and “loving”.

Mikkel Sciegienny, creator of MorningQuestions.com

So, I’m placing Kasper (my avatar) in the kitchen (place).

Now I go through all my senses to turn everything up a notch, and then I create a scene.

So, Kasper greets me when I walk up to him in the kitchen. He gives me a big hug and tells me “it’s so nice to see you my best friend”. Then he serves me a nice, big, steak.

Hopefully, things are starting to slowly make more sense!

At this point, you should have an avatar and scene for the second tendency as well as put it in a place that’s different from the first one.

Got that?

Let’s continue to the next tendency…

Tendency 3. Hating/disliking

The third tendency is the “hating/disliking” tendency.

What this means:

We disagree, and avoid, with people we don’t like/hate.

Perhaps, your enemy is right? Or there might be some truth to what he/she is saying?

Place

Once again, move away from your previous place, about 1 meter, and go to a new place.

Think about who, or what, you hate. Got it?

Now make the image in your mind even more vivid. Include as many senses are possible.

Now turn that into a scene, create some action.

Perhaps the thing you’re thinking about, is shouting at you? Smells foul? Punches you?

Finally, place that avatar and scene in the place you picked!

As you can see, I’m giving you fewer instructions now. That’s because I want YOU to use YOUR imagination – that works 1000x better than simply me telling you what to imagine.

Mikkel Sciegienny, creator of MorningQuestions.com

Let’s continue!

Tendency 4. Doubt-avoidance

What this means:

We decide before we doubt.

We don’t like uncertainty or being in doubt, so we prefer doing something over nothing to settle our mind.

Move about 1 meter away from your previous place.

Then it’s time to think of your avatar.

To me, this one is easy!

I think of the band “No Doubt” singing “Don’t speak”. So, I’m placing the band on a stage, where she’s screaming “Don’t speak, I know what you’re thiiinking..”

Got it? Awesome, on to the next one…

Tendency 5. Inconsistency

What this means:

We’re irrational consistent.

We prefer it when people/things are consistent. We don’t like to change our minds – even though that might be the right thing to do.

As always, move away from the previous place and pick a new spot.

Can you think of someone inconsistent?

Can you think of someone inconsistent? If not, you can also think of someone consistent – and then “destroy” that image, essentially inverting it.

Mikkel Sciegienny, creator of MorningQuestions.com

Here’s how I think about it. “Hmm, something consistent? A machine! A machine that’s spitting out the same pancakes all the time with extreme precision. Nothing’s more consistent than a machine. So, I place a machine at this place. But when I walk up to it, I grab a huge hammer and smash it into pieces. Then it starts spitting out pancakes in all sorts of weird shapes and sizes. Now, it’s inconsistent!”

This is another way to go about it: by visualizing the opposite and then destroying it.

Tendency 6. Curiosity

What this means:

All humans are curious by nature.

Pick a new place a few meters from the previous.

Think of someone/something curious. Can be real or imaginary.

For instance, I think of Curious George.

Then I imagine Curious George sitting and reading a book.

Note, that your avatar doesn’t have to be real. It can be a cartoon as well!

Tendency 7. Kantian fairness

What this means:

We are fair and expect others to be as well.

We’re wired for fairness. That’s why we don’t like it when someone skips the line, treats you poorly, or cheats. We expect people to be fair.

This one is a bit trickier!

It’s fairly easy for you to conjure up an image of someone “fair”.

But what about “Kantian”?

Here’s how to go about that:

“Kantian” has the sound “can’t” in it. Also, I’ve heard about a guy called “Kant”. What comes to my mind, is some very old person. So, let’s use that!

Mikkel Sciegienny, creator of MorningQuestions.com

Here’s how my avatar and scene plays out:

I imagine walking up to a very old guy. Then I ask him to pay a million bucks for my iPhone to which he answers “I’m sorry, I can’t pay that much. It’s obviously not fair”.

And that’s it! Super weird, but very vivid – and it makes sense to ME.

Tendency 8. Envy/jealousy

What this means:

We want what others have.

We’re jealous of others and envy them.

Do you envy anyone for something? Use him/her/it!

Or, someone might be jealous of you? Then go with that!

Tendency 9. Reciprocity

What this means:

We always want to return a favor.

Avatar:

I imagine Santa Claus giving me the gift of my dreams (an infrared sauna) for FREE! Obviously, I want to reciprocate his kindness.

Tendency 10. Liking/loving

What this means:

We think of something similar as being the same.

We can’t perceive something for itself. Its association/context influences our perception.

This tendency is related to the HALO-effect. The HALO-effect essentially states, that if a person is successful in a particular domain, we expect that person to be successful in other domains as well (even though that might not be true).

That’s why you see movie stars talking about climate change, or sports stars talking about politics, and you might actually believe them (right or not).

So, I might use the HALO-effect to remind myself of the tendency of being influenced-from-mere-association.

“Halo?” You bet I’m placing Master Chief on my route!

Feel free to use similar/related topics to create your avatar.

Tendency 11. Pain avoiding

What this means:

When confronted with a harsh reality, we tend to either deny it, avoid it, or distort it into something we can handle.

Think of something really painful and place it. Now make sure to avoid it at all costs. Perhaps by going around it and keeping your distance. Or IMAGINE yourself crying when you see it.

Alright, so I’ve shown you how to create an avatar for the first 11 tendencies.

Now, you’re on your own.

You got this!

Make sure to make the avatar vivid and create a scene where some action is happening. Then place it on a distinct place on your route.

Tendency 12. Excessive self-regard

Ask anyone if they are better, worse, or equal to the average driver and almost anyone will say they are better than the average driver (which of course can’t be the case).

Tendency 13. Overoptimism

What we wish, we believe.

We tend to think things will play out better than they actually do.

Tendency 14. Deprival-superreaction

We value more what we’re about to lose.

We value more what we can’t have and what is scarce.

“You don’t know what you’ve got, until it’s gone”

Tendency 15. Social-proof

We imitate other people.

So, we look to others for answers and guidance.

Tendency 16. Contrast-misreaction

We judge relatively, not absolutely.

We compare progress related to each other – not absolutely.

So, to know whether or not I’m doing good, I look to my neighbors (relative) – instead of looking to, say, the average citizen.

Another consequence of this is also, that we’re blind to the effects of compounding.

Tendency 17. Stress-influence

Too much stress causes errors in our thinking.

Tendency 18. Availability-misweighing

We place too much emphasis on what’s easily available to us.

“When I’m not near the girl I love, I love the girl I’m near” – Charlie Munger

Tendency 19. Use-it-or-lose-it

If we don’t practice, we lose it (skills, knowledge, etc.)

Say you’re good at playing guitar. For some reason, you stop playing guitar for a year. When you play guitar again, your skills have declined.

Tendency 20. Drug-misinfluence

The influence of drugs results in bad decision making.

I’ve had trillion-dollar ideas when I was drunk, until the next day when I was sober.

Tendency 21. Senescence-misinfluence

Advanced age results in cognitive decay.

Tendency 22. Authority-influence

We follow the leader, no matter if he’s right or wrong.

Tendency 23. Twaddle

We can’t help but gossip and “speak nonsense”.

Tendency 24. Reason-respecting

We tend to respect any reason, even when it doesn’t make sense.

“Can I skip the line to the printer, because I really need to print something?” works much better than asking “can I skip the line to the printer?”

Tendency 25. Lollapalooza

“Lollapalooza” is Charlie Munger’s term for when any of the above-mentioned tendencies go together and create extreme results.

Essentially:

1 = 1

1+1 = 3

1+1+1 =7

Let’s test your recall now!

Alright, so those are the 25 psychological tendencies Charlie Munger says we should be aware of.

You’ve gone through each one.

You know what each tendency means.

You’ve picked a particular place on your route and placed your avatars and scene.

Now it’s time to see how many tendencies you recall!

Mikkel Sciegienny, creator of MorningQuestions.com

Grab something to write on.

Also, don’t get nervous or overthink things.

It’s your first time doing this, so don’t sweat it.

Alright, go back to the beginning of your route.

What do you see? Or smell? Or hear?

Here’s how my mind goes:

“I’m walking up to the door to my home. There are 2 big horses and a horsemaster. The horsemaster is carrying a whip in one hand and a carrot in the other. He then feeds the carrot to the horses who are incredibly pleased. Then he starts whipping them, so they scream. Ah, that’s the reward and punishment tendency!”

Did you get it? Awesome! If not, no worries.

Let’s continue to your next place.

Where’s the next place on your route?

Imagine being there. What do you see? Or smell/feel/sense/hear?

Oh, that’s right! The person I love is greeting me! That’s the love/liking tendency.

Did you get it? AWESOME!

Now continue like this throughout your entire route.

If you can’t recall your avatars and scene: check all your senses.

Mikkel Sciegienny, creator of MorningQuestions.com

If you come to a place where you know there’s supposed to be an avatar, check all your senses. Ask yourself “what do I see? What do I hear? What do I feel? What do I smell?”.

If nothing comes up, simply move on to the next point.

So, how many did you get?

Write to me here and tell me how many did you get! I’d LOVE to know!

Recall in reverse

Let’s try another cool thing!

Try starting your route in reverse. So, this time start where you ended before. Then walk your route in reverse.

How many can you recall? All of them? AWESOME!

Now you’re just showing off 🙂

This is the power of using avatars, a scene, and a place you’re familiar with.

You can easily go back and forth or even start in the middle.

Imagine if you were simply trying to remember all 25 tendencies like you would normally do.

That’d be impossible!

Reviewing your route

Whether you got 1 out of 25 tendencies, half of them, or all of them, you need to revisit and review your avatars and route.

Here’s the frequency I recommend:

  • Run through the route later today
  • Go through the route tomorrow
  • Now wait 1 week before going through the route
  • Wait 2 weeks before revisiting the route
  • Then up it to 3 weeks
  • And finally, 4 weeks is the longest you should go before reviewing the route

Use whatever tool you like to remind yourself that you need to review these tendencies.

I like using Podio to remind me.

Where to go from here

As I alluded to in the beginning, Charlie Munger is one of the sharpest and quickest thinkers in the world.

Charlie urges one to learn from multiple fields to increase your decision-making capabilities.

These 25 tendencies create a very good foundation for understanding how humans, and the world, work on a psychological level.

Mikkel Sciegienny, creator of MorningQuestions.com

These tendencies are evergreen and will always play out. So, remembering these 25 tendencies is something that you can use for your entire life.

Being able to run through these 25 tendencies mentally, has been a gamechanger for me – and I hope it’ll be it for you too.

Doing more

This is just the beginning of you remembering important information – and being able to recall it without trouble.

Got an important presentation coming up? Place your key points on a route and walk through it as you present (I’ve done this for several exams).

Or how about memorizing the most important parts of your favorite book?

Or maybe you want to create a decision-making checklist to mentally go through before making an important decision?

The possibilities are virtually endless!

If you want to explore this subject further, I highly recommend picking up Derren Browns’ book “Tricks of the Mind” and “Moonwalking with Einstein” by Joshua Foer.

Using memory techniques is the fastest, and easiest, way to remember anything you want, (almost) instantly and forever.

Mikkel Sciegienny, creator of MorningQuestions.com

Now I need your help!

On a final note, I want you to do 3 things:

1: If you found value in this guide, please share it with someone.

A share on Twitter would be much appreciated!

2: If you want to explore the world of multiple mental models even further, go get Poor Charlie’s Almanack.

Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s been the most important book I’ve ever got. It’s worth magnitudes more than its cost.

I also, highly, recommend getting “Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin to Munger”.

3: Write to me

If you actually took action and committed these 25 tendencies to memory, write me how many you did recall on your first run.

And if you have any questions, let me know!