Sell Yourself an Hour a Day

One of my favorite business thinkers is a man named Charlie Munger.  Most people know of him as Warren Buffett’s business partner at Berkshire Hathaway.  However, the more I read about the two, the more I realize that it is Munger who is going to have more of an influence in how I try to conduct my life.  One of the most important examples I think someone can draw from him is the idea to sell yourself an hour a day.

Charlie Munger is well known for his philanthropic endeavors, his work on apartment buildings early in his life, and designing student dorm buildings for the University of Michigan.  All of this came from a decision while he was younger.  In The Snowball, by Alice Schroeder, Warren Buffett in an interview notes, “Charlie, as a very young lawyer, was probably getting $20 an hour. He thought to himself, ‘Who’s my most valuable client?’ And he decided it was himself. So he decided to sell himself an hour each day. He did it early in the morning, working on these construction projects and real estate deals. Everybody should do this, be the client, and then work for other people, too, and sell yourself an hour a day.”

One of the stories that Janet Lowe mentions in her book, Damn Right, is a story about how Charlie Munger bought oil rights with a new acquaintance named Al Marshall.  With the rules governing the auctions of these oil rights resulting in ridiculously cheap prices, Munger and Marshall were able to put up a thousand dollars each in a series of ABC trusts that Munger had set up.  Today, more than 50 years later, those trusts are still sending Munger a $100,000 a year.  All of that comes just from spending an hour a day improving your skills.

  How You Can Apply This to Your Life

With the federal government, 50 state governments, countless municipalities, and private corporations offering different benefits to people, spending an hour a day can lead to huge dividends for your financial security.  For example, in El Paso County in Colorado Springs, there is a program known as a turnkey mortgage origination program that gives people with a low to moderate income a three or four percent grant of the mortgage amount to help with their down-payment.  On a $200,000 house that is a grant worth six to eight thousand dollars.  I don’t know many people who would turn that down.  The problem is a lot of people do because they don’t spend enough time trying to better themselves.

The best part about selling yourself an hour a day is that it doesn’t have to be finances you work on.  I had a neighbor who would spend hours on their front yard working on the casting methods for fly fishing.  Some people spend a lot of their time working on their personal photography skills.  For you, it may be different, but the question stands.  What are you passionate about or trying to improve about yourself that isn’t worth selling an hour a day to yourself?