Famed investor Charlie Munger and diplomat Henry Kissinger each died inside a day of one another in November 2023.

Every lived to 100 (Munger was 34 days quick, however we’ll give it to him), and each placed on fits and went to work till their closing days.

One wonders: Did their continued work, curiosity, {and professional} objective result in an extended life? Or was dwelling to 100 the luck of the draw, and each simply occurred to be captivated with their careers?

A part of me admires their dedication to their respective callings, having outperformed all others on the highest ranges of their fields and actually loving their professions.

The opposite half assumes they labored as a result of they had been cussed older males set of their methods — feeding lifelong addictions to cash, affect, and energy. 


Charlie Munger was the Vice Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and maybe finest generally known as the quotable #2 of Warren Buffett. 

The duo grew Berkshire Hathaway to the $850 billion firm it’s at this time. Buffett is credited because the funding guru, however he credit Munger because the “architect” behind their funding technique. 

Neglect what about shopping for honest companies at great costs; as a substitute, purchase great companies at honest costs.

Munger usually spoke of the significance of lifelong studying by means of studying regardless of dropping an eye fixed in his fifties. Curiosity, it’s stated, assists longevity. 

Whether it is knowledge you’re after, you’re going to spend so much of time in your ass studying.

Develop right into a lifelong self-learner by means of voracious studying; domesticate curiosity and attempt to grow to be a little bit wiser day by day.

He attended the Berkshire Hathaway annual assembly and answered shareholder questions alongside Buffett for hours annually. It’s the place a lot of his well-known quotes gained widespread consideration.

A group of “Mungerisms” had been revealed in e book, Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger.

I’m a shareholder however by no means attended “Woodstock for Capitalism”. With Munger gone and Buffett in his 90s, essentially the most magical moments could also be prior to now. 

Munger gave a number of interviews as he was nearing his a centesimal birthday. His obituary within the New York Times by Andrew Ross Sorkin and Robert D. Hershey Jr. is the definitive.

When requested by Becky Fast of CNBC what led to his success and longevity, he stated:

Keep away from loopy in any respect prices. Loopy is far more widespread than you assume. It’s simple to slide into loopy. Simply keep away from it, keep away from it, keep away from it.


Few Individuals are as storied and controversial as Henry Kissinger. Most notably, he was Richard Nixon’s Nationwide Safety Advisor and Secretary of State in the course of the Vietnam Conflict. 

Thought-about each a international coverage genius and battle legal, Kissinger made a number of consequential coverage selections that formed the world within the Sixties and Nineteen Seventies, impacting and devastating many lives.

In an interview with Ted Koppel on CBS Sunday morning in Could 2023, Kissinger stated he labored 15 hours a day at his consulting enterprise when nearing his a centesimal birthday.

Having watched all 18 hours of the Ken Burns documentary on the Vietnam Conflict, it was sobering to study what number of poor management selections had been made all through the battle, escalating the violence and killing so many individuals. 

I visited Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos in 2001. 

The U.S. fought a covert battle in Laos from 1964-1973, dropping greater than 260 million bombs on the nation. Mines and unexploded ordinances nonetheless litter the country, killing, maiming, and stunting financial development.

Kissinger himself was accountable for approving 3,875 Cambodia bombing raids, killing as many as 150,000 folks. The battle and bombing led to the rise of the Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, who killed an estimated two million folks from 1975-1979.

He finally acknowledged the unwinnable taking part in discipline, was accountable for architecting a peace cope with the North Vietnamese, and gained the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.

Kissinger didn’t take effectively to Koppel’s line of questioning when the Vietnam matters arose, calling out others’ ignorance as a substitute of self-reflection. Maybe he continued working to dilute his misjudgments and strengthen his legacy, which works far past the darkest days. 

Miserable historical past apart, maybe we are able to study one thing from Kissinger’s work ethic and curiosity. 

Longevity and Objective

Science has established the connection between objective and longevity. 

The Japanese name this ikigai, outlined as “that which makes life price dwelling”. I found this idea whereas studying The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner.

In his analysis, Buettner recognized “blue zones” all over the world the place a a lot greater share of residents reside to 100 in comparison with different areas.

One of many commonalities among the many 5 blue zones was a powerful sense of objective or vocation. Significant work is one manifestation of ikigai.

Buettner said to the BBC relating to how older individuals are handled in blue zones:

Older individuals are celebrated, they really feel obligated to go on their knowledge to youthful generations. This provides them a objective in life exterior of themselves, in service to their communities.

Neither Munger nor Kissinger ever lived in a blue zone, however this concept of getting a objective and being celebrated for his or her knowledge could have been a driving issue of their late careers and longevity.

Munger was cherished for his knowledge, wit, and investor monitor report. Kissinger was revered for his mind, admired for his service, and nonetheless referred to as upon by world leaders for recommendation in his closing years. 

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers added this in an interview with Bloomberg:

So, if skilled objective is a crucial consider an extended and fulfilling life, are these of us pursuing early retirement slicing our lifespan quick?

Objective in Retirement

The Blue Zones and plenty of different books, articles, and analysis made me query whether or not early retirement was what I needed all these years. 

The rising price of faculty has pressured many people to chase careers that pay effectively as a substitute of vocations that genuinely curiosity us. Effectively-paying jobs justify borrowing for costly levels. 

I took the primary job that paid effectively, then raced to save lots of and make investments my approach out of the workplace cubicle.

My preliminary early retirement aim to cease working utterly at age 55 was rooted in a want to journey extra. I landed in data expertise and used it pursue my goal.

I assumed that was the path of least resistance

Alongside the best way, I began a side business and located a objective in writing and on-line entrepreneurship. Now that I’m doing it full-time, I believe much less about retiring

My youngest little one gained’t go to school for an additional ten years. So, retiring early to journey doesn’t match into my changing realities. However the urge to discover once more hasn’t gone away.

The considered prioritizing well-paying work for an additional decade over a extra significant career led me to go away my IT profession in favor of finance writing.

Now that I’ve discovered a calling, I’m extra understanding once I see folks nonetheless working of their 70s, 80s, and even their 90s. It used to baffle me. 

Ikigai might be many issues past work. Household, relationships, hobbies, discovery, and neighborhood involvement might be as highly effective a long life driver as a significant profession. 

After I was a full-time traveler in my 20s, that was my objective. Individuals, locations, journey, curiosity, and adversity stuffed every day, and I cherished it. If all goes to plan, journey might be amongst many significant retirement actions and relationships.

A wholesome retirement is about redefining objective, strengthening relationships, and feeding new curiosities. But when you have already got these issues in a career like Munger and Kissinger did, why give up?



Craig Stephens

Craig is a former IT skilled who left his 20-year profession to be a full-time finance author. A DIY investor since 1995, he began Retire Earlier than Dad in 2013 as a inventive outlet to share his funding portfolios. Craig studied Finance at Michigan State College and lives in Northern Virginia together with his spouse and three kids. Read more.

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