How Charlie Munger has influenced my Product Management Career

Zen Liu
2 min readDec 1, 2023
Charles Thomas Munger (January 1, 1924 — November 28, 2023)

The world lost a remarkable thinker, Charlie Munger. His wisdom has profoundly influenced not just the world of investing but also many other fields, including my own in product management. In honoring his memory, I reflect on three of Munger’s quotes that have profoundly influenced my career in product management:

“The company in need of a new tool but has not yet acquired it is already paying for it.”

This resonates deeply with me in product development. Delaying the adoption of a necessary tool or process costs us in efficiency and innovation. This was vividly clear to me when, despite initial skepticism from senior executives and even my own boss, I took the initiative to gather compelling data and support from key stakeholders. It wasn’t an easy sell, but perseverance paid off. The decision was eventually greenlighted, leading to precious time savings for the team and allowing them to channel efforts into tasks that add greater value to our customers.

“Show me the incentive and I will show you the outcome.”

This has taught me to always look at the motivations driving user behavior, team dynamics, and even personal career choices. Instead of solely relying on logic and reasoning to change business processes and executive decisions, it is far more effective to understand the incentives at play.

This shift in perspective has been instrumental in designing more user-centric products, fostering clearer communication, and exercising more impactful leadership. Recognizing and aligning with these driving forces allows me to effect changes that are not only logical but also inherently motivating for all involved parties.

“Without the method of learning, you’re like a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest. It’s just not going to work very well.”

This humorous saying captures a principle I’ve embraced in my product management career. Being well-versed in a range of disciplines isn’t just beneficial; it’s essential in our complex world. This diversity in knowledge allows me to approach problems from various angles, fostering the development of more effective and innovative solutions. It reminds me that continuous learning and adaptability are not just assets but necessities in the ever-evolving field of product management.

Charlie Munger’s teachings are a testament to the power of clear, critical thinking. They will continue to guide and inspire many, myself included, in navigating complex challenges with wisdom.

Rest in peace, Charlie Munger. Your legacy lives on through the countless lives you have influenced.