The Circle of Competence was one of the most important exercises I did before founding our current company Ongig.
The Circle of Competence is simple: you write down the things that you are competent about and draw a circle around it. And then, as Buffett explains, remember that the more you go outside your circle of competence, …
I gave a speech on Personal Branding to the American Marketing Association (San Francisco) (thanks, Brian Kerr!) on Nov. 20th at the ING Direct Cafe.
Some of you asked for the slides of the show.
Here’s the Powerpoint slide show via Slideshare and then below that are some notes from the speech:
You guys know I love Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett… I consider them American hereos.
I read an interesting book called The Four Filters Invention of Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger (by Bud Labitan) the other day — if you like business, investing or Buffett or Munger, you should buy this book.
I thought I’d briefly summarize their “Four Filters” below — I paraphrase Bud Labitan’s book at times and add in a dose of quotes I’ve collected (see my past postings on Charlie Munger Quotes or Warren Buffett Quotes) as well as some quotes and insights from other folks.
Circle of Competence
Buffet advises investors to focus on their “circle of competence” (that which they know the most about).
“Draw a circle around the businesses you understand and then eliminate those that fail to qualify on the basis of value, good management and limited exposure to hard times.” — Warren Buffett
Michael Porter suggests that there are two major types of competitive advantages:
1. A Cost Advantage
2. A Differentiation Advantage
“Something Special in People’s Minds”
Buffett and Munger have simplified this to “something special in people’s minds.”
“American Express has financial integrity; there’s worldwide acceptance of its name. It holds two-thirds of the market while charging more for its product…you have something special in people’s minds.” — Buffett at Berkshire’s 2000 Annual Meeting
“A Moat Around Their Economic Castles.”
“We look for moats around the castle. We think in terms of moats and the impossibility of crossing it — we want it widened every year. If it’s too narrow, we leave it alone.” Buffett at Berkshire’s 2000 Annual Meeting
The strong consumer brands of CocaCola and Gilette (later bought by Proctor and Gamble) were examples that Buffett gave in his 1993 Letter to Shareholders: “The might of their brand names, the attributes of their products and the strength of their distribution systems give them an enormous competitive advantage…”
Here’s another classic Buffett quote on the topic: “I look for businesses in which I think I can predict what they’re going to look like in ten to fifteen years time. Take Wrigley’s chewing gum. I don’t the think the Internet is going to change how people chew gum.”
“We look for a horse with a one in two chance of winning and which pays you three to one. You’re looking for a mispriced gamble. That’s what investing is. And you have to know enough to know whether the gamble is mispriced. That’s value investing. Charlie Munger from Poor Charlie’s Almanack.
Margin of Safety — Benjamin Graham called this “margin of safety” — that is, the difference between the intrinsic value of a business versus what the asking price is.
How do you calculate intrinsic value?
Patience For A Sensible Price Tag — Munger & Buffett refer to waiting for the “fat pitch.” Be very patient, but be very aggressive when it’s time.