THE IMITATION GAME

"One of the most important of the Irregular Rules, find smart people, because if you can do that, you can forget a lot of the other rules"  Adam Smith, The Money Game 1968

“I believe in the discipline of mastering the best that other people have figured out.  I don’t believe in just sitting down and trying to dream it all up yourself.  Nobody’s that smart.”  Charlie Munger

"Start by learning from the best - listening, studying, and reading" Li Lu

"You can learn a lot from other people.  In fact I think if you learn basically from other people, you don’t have to get too many new ideas on your own.  You can just apply the best of what you see." Warren Buffett

“If you want to, you can make all the mistakes by trying to learn everything yourself, or you can sit at the feet of the masters, which I have chosen to do, and short cut that” Frank Martin

"The trick is to learn most lessons from the experience of others.  Managers who have learned much from personal experience in the past usually are destined to learn much from personal experience in the future"  Warren Buffett

 “I confess that I’m always interested in following what really smart people do in this business and the stuff they’re most frustrated in” Paul Issac

"We use a lot of grapevine ideas, asking people what they’ve finished buying that might be interesting. Why wouldn’t you look at what other great investors have found?  Bruce Berkowitz

“For prospecting ideas we pay a lot of attention to where the most effective activists are getting involved” Brian Lancaster

“I liberally swipe investing ideas from other value investors” Monish Pabrai

“Try to steal good ideas from other people” David Abrams

"We look at what other people we respect own"  John Fox

"I learned the investment business largely from the work and thinking of others"  Bill Ackman

“I’d rather steal a good idea than generate a bad one myself” Steve Morrow

“I am a shameless copycat” Monish Pabrai

"Start looking at what other people that you know and respect are buying.  This is far from a silly filtering device"  Charlie Munger

"I follow very closely what other value investors are doing"  Robert Vinali

"It behooves you as a professional when you see talented people or smart people that have demonstrated records of excellence, you ought to at least think about why they’re doing something and see whether that fits or makes sense for something you do as well or not" Thomas Gayner

“What too few money managers do is analyse the fundamental financial characteristics of portfolios that produce long-term market beating results, and develop a set of investment principles that are based on those findings” … “We have done this and we have observed that the money managers who have achieved long-term market beating results in this business, Walter Schloss, Warren Buffet, Bill Ruane and Rick Cunnif, Mario Gabelli and John Neff, all have an investment philosophy based on their definition of value” Chris Browne

“.. the first original idea for almost four-fifths of the investigations and almost five-sixths of the ultimate pay-out (as measure by worthwhile purchase) had come from quite a different group. Across the nation I had gradually come to know and respect a small number of men whom I had seen do outstanding work of their own in selecting common stocks for growth.” Phil Fisher

"You know good poets borrow and great poets steal.  So see what you can find" Peter Cundill

"As you might know, we don't have any original ideas - everything is cloned" Mohnish Pabrai

"Many of the best ideas are already out there for us to see; we just have to clone them" Guy Spier

"Cloning is a very powerful concept. If you are able to reverse engineer what another great mind has done in investing, and understand why they were doing it and why they made these investments, those decisions will tend to be better than something you just come up with on your own." Mohnish Pabrai

"I used to wait for the Graham Newman newsletter to come out each week so I could see what they were buying and it would be a good place to start to look for investments.  If Graham Newman was looking at something it was definitely worth my while to look into it"  Warren Buffett

"There's a quote by Picasso, which basically says good artists copy and great artists steal.  We look at other investors and also observe other fields to see how star performers do their jobs and continue to improve"  Ken Shubin Stein

"I have tried to learn from Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger. Studying their writings and speeches to become a better investor is relatively easy to do and anyone with above average intelligence could learn from them and significantly improve their results" Mohnish Pabrai

"I study the people we compete with and collaborate with very closely.  I (also) particularly study value investors, on the completely other side of the spectrum.  Warren Buffett is the archetype but Seth Klarman, and others."   Marc Andreessen

"I like to follow sound and successful investors who are particularly knowledgeable about a company or industry they are investing in" Ed Wachenheim

"Knowing that very successful investors are interested is a reason for us also to take a look [at a stock]"  Chris Browne

"Warren has made a number of people rich who have just copied his investments"  Charlie Munger

"I think it is very important to pay attention to what really smart people are doing and incorporate that into your thinking and sort of ask yourself, “Why are they doing that and why are they not doing something else?”  And, “How did they come to those decisions?”  Or, “What did they see that I don’t see?”  It is a very helpful and healthy thing to indeed follow the actions of smart people and think about what they’re doing and why" Thomas Gayner

"I have deep admiration for many great investors and will certainly take a close look at their favorite stocks. I would not use the word “piggyback,” but I would say that, like a painter is inspired by some art masters, I am indeed inspired by some money managers for whom I have great respect." Francois Rochon

"One way that I look for investments is to study the masters and then explore whether I should buy the same stock or a better one with similar characteristics" Guy Spier

"I feel very lucky that in the last twenty years I could study value investing under the tutelage of the great masters, and to learn and practice under their watch" Li Lu

"We also learn a lot from other investors. I go to idea dinners and regularly talk to a lot of people in the business.  I’m not afraid of ideas owned by other people, but you obviously need to do your own work and make sure they fit what you do." Ricky Sandler

"Throughout the course of a normal week, we have a steady traffic of salespeople bringing strategists, economists, and analysts to our offices to make presentations. They can be interesting and even stimulating, but essentially they are not at risk the way we are. They often mouth-bet because they can always re-write history if they are wrong.  We don't have that luxury. You can't obfuscate performance numbers. Thus, our best, most insightful intercourse is with other professional investors who have public performance records, and with whom we have become true confidantes over the years. They may still not tell us the whole truth about what they are doing, but at least they are at risk in the same game we are. " Barton Biggs