FoolFest is The Motley Fool’s annual member conference, and Fools from all over graciously stop by our Alexandria, Virginia, headquarters for a visit.
In this Motley Fool Answers podcast, hosts Alison Southwick and Robert Brokamp bring in three members from around the country to talk about their investing journeys: how they got started, some of their most important and most painful lessons, a few things that every new investor should know, how to be excited about downturns in the market, and more. And, in honor of The Fool’s upcoming 25th birthday — they grow up so fast! — join us for a few rounds of two truths and a Motley Fool lie.
A full transcript follows the video.
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This video was recorded on June 5, 2018.
Alison Southwick: This is Motley Fool Answers! I’m Alison Southwick, and I’m joined as always by Robert Brokamp, personal finance expert here at The Motley Fool. In this week’s episode, we have a special treat! Three listeners from the show are joining us in studio to share their investing journey and advice for people looking to get started. All that and more on this week’s episode of Motley Fool Answers.
This week, we’re lucky to bring in a few Answers listeners into the studio who happened to be in town for FoolFest. We just wanted to bring you guys in here to hear about your investing journey and what’s worked for you when it’s come to managing your money. I’m so excited! Thank you for coming!
Rex Pauly: You’re welcome!
Southwick: See! This is radio! You have to make noise! We have here in the studio Kathy Pfeffer-Hahn, Rex Pauly —
Pauly: Yes, ma’am!
Southwick: — and Jason Newman. Thank you guys for coming! Alright, so, I just thought it would be great, while you guys are here in town for FoolFest, to bring in a few listeners of the podcast so that you can share your personal stories, investing and money. For those who aren’t familiar with FoolFest, it’s our annual big fest.
Robert Brokamp: It’s the Woodstock for Fools.
Southwick: Yeah, it is kind of the Woodstock for Fools. Today, I think we have around maybe 500-600 members here all hanging out at the Westin. First off, I wanted to ask you guys about your own personal story, a little bit of your background, unrelated to money, where you’re from, what you do for a living. Kathy, you’re local, here from Fairfax, and you work for Fairfax County Schools.
Kathy Pfeffer-Hahn: The public schools, yeah.
Southwick: Tell me a little more about yourself.
Pfeffer-Hahn: We moved to Reston in 1969. I’ve actually been here essentially my entire life. I moved all the way to Herndon, that was a big five-minute drive away. It’s a great place to live, and I feel very blessed for many of the things that we have here.
Brokamp: Graduate of South Lakes?
Brokamp: Absolutely, alright!
Southwick: What do you do for the school system?
Pfeffer-Hahn: I teach fifth grade in their advanced academics program.
Southwick: Is fifth grade the worst?
Pfeffer-Hahn: No, it’s not, at all.
Southwick: Which is the worst?
Brokamp: No. Seventh and eighth grade.
Southwick: Seventh and eighth grade is the worst?
Brokamp: I taught sixth through eighth grade. Seventh and eighth grade is the worst.
Southwick: Am I being a little too hard on the kiddos?
Pfeffer-Hahn: Well, I mean, I feel like more, lately, it’s just about respect, and who you’re respectful to or not, and where you’re getting that from.
Brokamp: How do you handle the social media stuff? When I was teaching, there was no such thing as smartphones. That would have driven me crazy, if people were looking at their phones while I was teaching.
Pfeffer-Hahn: In elementary school, you’re not allowed to have them out. You can bring them to school, but they have to stay in your backpack and away, and they do not come out, unless we have an activity that we need our phones for or something. I have not asked them to use their phones for any research, but anything like that, they could bring in.
Brokamp: Very smart.
Southwick: We also have Rex Pauly. Rex, where are you from today?
Rex Pauly: I’m from Colorado. I’m lucky enough to have graduated from literally Rocky Mountain High. The theme song was not John Denver. I’ve been fortunate to be living, actually, in New Hampshire for a majority of the last 24 years, with a brief stint in Singapore.
Southwick: And you’re in the biotech industry?
Pauly: I am, which I’m sure is of no interest to any Fool investors anywhere, that I’m a biotech automation engineer. I have no insights on anything.
Brokamp: [laughs] No interest whatsoever.
Southwick: [laughs] What do you do as a biotech automation engineer?
Pauly: I buy a lot of things. I buy pumps and valves. Then, I specify and write code, or, more aptly, work with other people to write the code that runs the plant that makes the drugs. If you screw up coding, in most cases, you have to fix the code. If I screw up coding, you usually have to get a mop. It’s a good life. It’s a very engaging industry and career path.
Southwick: Awesome. Jason, where are you from?
Jason Newman: I’m from Long Island, New York.
Southwick: What do you do for a living?
Newman: I work in sports media. I specifically sell advertising and sponsorships across television, digital, radio, print, and you name it.
Brokamp: Does that mean you get to go to a lot of events and stuff like that?
Newman: It does.
Southwick: Oh, really?!
Brokamp: Cool, awesome.
Newman: Everyone’s a sports fan.
Southwick: So, you’re saying you can get me tickets to the Caps game, is basically what you’re saying?
Newman: You’re talking about the Stanley Cup finals, right?
Southwick: [laughs] Yeah, that’s no big deal, right? You can do that for me!
Newman: No problem, it’d be my pleasure.
Southwick: Well, let’s transition a little bit more to talking about money and your early experiences with money. How did you learn to invest? Where did you learn to first start to invest, Kathy?
Pfeffer-Hahn: Honestly, The Motley Fool. In about 1998, my boss was very into The Motley Fool and took me to a book signing with the boys, and I was able to purchase my first book, You Have More Than You Think. I can’t say that I did a lot of reading at that time about it, but more when it got easier for me with podcasts, and information like that, and feeling more confident.
We were talking earlier about, once you’re educated even a little bit, then you can take bigger steps, because you feel more confident in what it is you’re doing. So, once I felt more confident and comfortable with that, I decided to go ahead and start doing some investing on my own. Even continuing on that, Bro was mentioning my alma mater one time, about getting his degree at Kansas State University. So, I looked into that, and I now, too, am getting my degree in financial therapy there.
Brokamp: Oh, really!
Southwick: No way, that’s awesome!
Brokamp: We’ll have to chat afterwards.
Pfeffer-Hahn: Yeah, absolutely.
Southwick: You were actually explaining on the way over here that you are also on the board for Fairfax County Schools for retirement planning.
Pfeffer-Hahn: ERFC is what it’s called, and I’m one of the three school-based trustees, yeah. Very exciting. And it truly was, because of this, once I took those little baby steps, I realized, well, not only that, but I could practice what I was learning at school, but also that I just had such an interest in being able to make sure that other people’s retirement would be set, as well, and making sure that there’s money available to everybody when they retire.
Southwick: Rex, how about you? How’d you get started and interested in investing?
Pauly: Well, I don’t know. I think I made every single possible error early on, but with small amounts of money. I was aware of The Fools very early on, because I was actually involved in a BBS that AOL purchased when AOL was first formed —
Southwick: Wait, what’s a BBS?
Pauly: Well, the bulletin board systems that existed. Alright, yeah. People are picturing exactly how old I am at this point in time. So, I actually inherited an AOL account. So, I was aware of The Fools really, really early on. I think You Have More Than You Think was probably the first book that I had. I was always a believer in fully investing in 401(K)s. I’ve had all the problems. I got into front-loaded funds from someone who came and spoke at the company, and I did a job change early on and I received my check for the 401(K) to transfer to the other one and got the tax hit, which was barely noticeable at the income I had at the time, but, you know, all the mistakes, made them all, read the books, got better.
Brokamp: And you’re still in good shape, you’re still fine.
Pauly: Well, it’s a good thing it’s radio, because no one would believe you. Financially, I’m in good shape.
Southwick: What you’re talking about, how you made a lot of mistakes early with small amounts of money, I’ve heard Rick say that at cocktail parties, too, because you started at The Fool so early on.
Rick Engdahl: Ballard Power, baby. Ballard Power.
Southwick: I don’t know what that means.
Brokamp: We have some nods here in the room.
Southwick: [laughs] What does that mean?
Pauly: Fuel cells are going to be the big rage in about ten years.
Southwick: So, you guys all invested in Ballard Power?
Newman: I did, for sure.
Pauly: I was at the University of Utah when they announced cold fusion, that they had discovered cold fusion, and that was going to be the next big —
Southwick: Not true!
Pauly: [laughs] Right, exactly.
Southwick: My dad is actually an astrophysicist, so I remember being in Idaho, and the news came on, and my dad was like, “I don’t buy it.” [laughs] He was like, “There’s something wrong there, I don’t think they really solved cold fusion.” Jason, how did you learn to invest?
Newman: I’ll complete the trifecta. I, too, started with a copy of You Have More Than You Think by David and Tom Gardner, which my aunt bought for me when I was in college.
Southwick: What a great aunt! And you actually read it!
Newman: I actually read it. And, like Kathy, I went to a book signing in Manhattan. Bro was with David and Tom. I had a chance to meet them. And I was all-in from that point forward. I became an active member of the message boards, an early subscriber to the Stock Advisor service when it launched. My 20-year Fooliversary will be April of next year.
Southwick: Wow, that’s awesome! We actually did mention the Caps, and, I have been steeped in Motley Fool history because it’s the 25th anniversary of The Motley Fool. It’s funny how people nowadays know of Ted Leonsis as the owner of the Caps. They don’t realize that Ted Leonsis is who gave The Motley Fool their start on AOL.
Newman: That’s right.
Southwick: He basically went up to them and was like, “Hey, I like what you guys are doing over on … ” the Prodigy boards? Does that sound right? Something like that? And then, he said, “We’re going to give you part of the … ” was it the green light? Green house? Green something.
Brokamp: Yes, one of those.
Southwick: One of those things, he had this program.
Newman: Incubator things.
Southwick: Yeah, it was basically an incubator, and they were like, “We’re going to give you your own corner of AOL.” Keyword …
Southwick: Keyword Fool! Ask your parents, kiddos. And, I had forgotten, back in the day, they used to charge you by the minute for the internet.
Brokamp: Yeah, that’s right.
Southwick: Like, these kids don’t realize how great they’ve got it. [laughs]
Brokamp: And you couldn’t be on the phone while you were doing it.
Southwick: No, you couldn’t be on the phone or you’d get a real screech in your ear. So, yeah, most kids these days just know Ted Leonsis as an investor, philanthropist and owner of the Caps. But we’re here at The Fool because of him giving us a shot on AOL. And also because Tom and David were just so great, right, they were a success story.
Yesterday at FoolFest, Tom told a story about how the game designer, Reiner Knizia, came to The Fool and was playing board games with Tom and David. And they happened to be playing games that he designed. So, of course, he was just crushing Tom and David at these games. He’s a German board game designer, and Tom had said that, as they were lamenting how much this guy was destroying them at the game, Reiner was moving his piece along the board and saying, “You will not learn until it hurts.”
[laughs] So, I was wondering if are there any lessons that you’ve learned, be it investing or generally managing your money, where you’re like, “That lesson really hurt and I learned a lot from that one. That lesson stuck with me.” Rex, I feel like you maybe have one that particularly hurt, because you were talking earlier about all the mistakes you made. [laughs]
Pauly: Yeah, they all hurt. As a longtime board gamer, I was lucky enough to do one of the tours of Fool HQ associated with the fest. I want to tell all the gamers out there that I saw whiteboards where they were representing people with the little pawn-shaped people, which are called meeples, just, if you want to know, but, meeples on the whiteboard representing individuals. I was very proud of you for that, I’m proud of the gamer history there.
Brokamp: In our second floor, all of the conference rooms are named after games.
Pauly: Yeah, including one of my favorites, Seven Wonders, which young Mr. Engdahl and I were talking about on the walk over. So, what did I learn from, oh, God. Sure, let’s see.
The front-loaded funds was, I think, the biggest sin, and only because my company was very small at the time, so, they had brought in individuals to speak to us from local representatives. I was one of the people that was a believer. I was already doing everything I could do in my 401(K). And I’m like, “OK, this is great, here we go.” And they’re saying, “We have to make some money at this, too, so this is why we do this.” And it was all presented very flatly.
And eventually I realized, reading the book, that it doesn’t have to be like that. I used another wonderful piece of Fool advice and I went and I found my friendly local neighborhood fee-based financial advisor, and that was fabulous. She turned me around and we did a bunch of good things. There’s a number of things that she put us, speaking of the collective of my wife and I, that she put us in at that point in time that we’re still in today.
Brokamp: That’s great.
Pauly: And I plan to revisit her, because I haven’t seen her in 20-something years, to say, “How am I doing? Where did I screw up?” Or whatnot. But, I think the whole fee-based thing is fabulous.
Brokamp: Yeah, I think that’s a great idea. There are a lot of people here at The Motley Fool who are essentially do-it-yourselfers, but I think it’s a great idea, every once in a while, especially before a big life event, like if you’re thinking of retiring, to go see a qualified financial planner, just to make sure you’re on the right track.
Pauly: And everybody talks about how much people’s eyes roll or whatever when you start talking finances, if they’re not interested. Two hobbyists can talk about anything forever, but if only one of them is a hobbyist, it gets really quiet pretty quick. So, it’s good to have someone you can talk to.
Newman: I would say that the one thing that hurt the most early on when I started investing was taking too many opinions, taking too much advice from others. Following the trend, or the hot name, as they might have said, and not trusting my own gut and my own judgement with respect to the investments that I chose.
Rick mentioned Ballard Power, for example. I didn’t know anything about fuel cells or the future of energy at the time when I bought shares of Ballard Power. I was just looking for something that was going to give me a quick return. So, I think one of the things that was probably most impactful to my investing career was recognizing that I do, in fact, have the information I need to make good decisions, and I should trust my own gut, and not the noise or the input from others, as a first pass or first litmus test with respect to where I put my hard-earned money.
Southwick: Kathy, how about you?
Pfeffer-Hahn: At first, I was thinking of an error, and I think truly, my error has been waiting, not thinking that I could invest, that I either didn’t have the skill-set or that it would take too much money. So, waiting to the last five years or so, really getting involved in this. I would encourage people to take a lesson learned from me that you can invest, and it can be small amounts. You can go ahead and make those little mistakes, because that will help you in your own education and your going forward in it. But, get started, just do get started, because you can be an investor, even though that sounds like a big thing or a scary thing.
Southwick: How do you invest? Do you have a process? Do you just keep your eyes out for individual stocks? I think investor can mean a lot of things. For the hobbyist, Rex, some people can have miles of spreadsheets and they’re constantly crunching numbers and they’re going to allocate so much money every month, they can be very formulaic. Other people can just be like, “You know what? When I see a stock I like, I buy it. Mostly I’m in index funds,” or, “Mostly I do this.” How do you invest? How does it work for you?
Pfeffer-Hahn: I tend to choose things that I’m aware of — in other words, companies that I either shop at or have purchased products from or have an understanding of. That limits me, in a way. In some ways, that’s a limiting factor. But, again, the more education I can get, honestly, I rely on a lot of podcasts for information to at least be educated and then make a decision.
Very specifically, I remember a few summers ago, they were talking about Coke [Coca-Cola] and Pepsi. Because Pepsi was purchasing food, that that made it, maybe, a better choice, because they have snack foods now, and it might make it a better choice. And I just said, I only drink Diet Coke. I cannot invest my money in something that I’m daily investing my money in. And it’s been a great buy for me. It has not been wrong. So, I tend to rely on what I know, and use that. But I have zero spreadsheets. I just buy what seems right to me.
Southwick: And that’s worked out well for you?
Pfeffer-Hahn: So far very well.
Southwick: Rex, how about you?
Pauly: Oh, I totally bought into the credit cards that I was using in 2007. I bought a bunch of Citibank and I bought a bunch of Barclays, and that’s really worked out for me well — no. [laughs] I contribute to my 401(K), I have a fixed amount that comes. I pretty much invest it as soon as it hits. I don’t sit on a lot of cash. I have some number of things that I’ll take, I’ll reinvest in some things, and then I cycle the money. I do try to spread it out, I try to listen to young Mr. Brokamp and the Rule Your Retirement side of it. I literally do read every word you guys send out. I might be that one guy, but, you know.
Brokamp: I’m so sorry.
Pauly: I have no kids. I have some amount of free time. And again, I do like to validate with things that I actually do in my life. I don’t own any Under Armour —
Southwick: A good thing! That worked out!
Pauly: — clothing, but I do own some stock. I do wear clothes, which, again, a gift to radio listeners. But, yeah, pretty much every teenager in my life at one point in time, every time I saw them, they were all wearing Under Armour, head to toe. And I’m like, OK, it’s a thing. It’s not my thing, but it’s a thing.
Southwick: So, you did invest in Under Armour?
Pauly: I did. I used that as a …
Southwick: I’m sorry.
Paula: Eh, there’s time.
Pfeffer-Hahn: It’ll be fine! You just have to hold it.
Southwick: There you go! I love it, Kathy! Yes!
Pauly: There’s time! There’s absolutely time!
Southwick: Yes! I love it, I love it. How about you, Jason?
Newman: I very much come from the school of David Gardner’s investing philosophy. I would consider myself to be more of a Rule Breaker investor, but at the same time, holding true to some of the principles I learned very early on from David and Tom, which is to say, focus on businesses you understand and know, founder-led businesses, businesses that are in good shape on the balance sheet in terms of little to no debt, recurring strong cash flows, and things of that nature.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve also focused on diversifying more broadly, in terms of small-caps and large-caps. In the last five years or so, I’ve focused very much on that small-cap space, looking for tomorrow’s Rule Breakers, if you will. It’s been amazing to see my investments in companies like Apple and Netflix return thousands and thousands of percentage points, but knowing that they probably won’t be able to repeat that performance over the next decade, I’m looking for new ideas and smaller businesses that can, in fact, return that kind of performance over the next couple of decades. Like Rex, I’m typically all fully invested, very little cash other than what my family might need in the next year, should our circumstances change.
Southwick: For the last ten years, they’ve been saying there’s going to be a downturn in the market. It’s coming, it’s coming. How do you guys feel about that? The idea of a downturn, doom and gloom, are you like, “Cool, bring it, I’ll go shopping”? Are you worried at all as investors?
Newman: It happens. I think any student of the market knows that the market’s down at least one out of every three years over the last 100 years. Unless we’re going to be in this game for another 200 years to see that change, I think you have to expect volatility, I think you have to expect decreases of varying sizes and be OK with that. If you’re not, then you’re probably playing the wrong game or investing in businesses when you should probably be investing in the broader market.
Southwick: You’ve been investing long enough that you’ve seen how you can come out the other end of a market downturn in your own portfolio, because you’ve been investing for so long. So, are there any words of advice that you could offer our audience to be like, “Don’t fear the bear?”
Brokamp: Don’t fear the bear, that’s a good one!
Newman: Embrace the bear, first of all. Hug the bear.
Southwick: [laughs] Snuggle the bear.
Newman: Yeah, I mean, if you’re a long-term investor and you’re not excited about opportunities when what you’re buying is less expensive, then you’re crazy. Anybody that’s investing for longer than a decade, in some cases two decades, three decades — you can look back over your performance, as long as you’ve been holding those businesses. No doubt about it, your best returns are going to be at those times when the market was the lowest.
And that can be the case for the broader market, or it can be the case for any one given company. When Reed Hastings decided Qwikster a good idea, and Netflix’s stock went from $60 to $15, the person that took a broader outlook on things and understood that the fundamentals of that business hadn’t really changed, and this was a short-term PR disaster, might have invested in the business at that time. That can be game-changing.
And then, one other point, just to go back to what you said about waiting and trying to time those moments, it’s often repeated around Fooldom, but it’s the time in the market, not timing the market, that’s going to make you wealthy in the end. You can’t repeat that often enough.
Southwick: Rex, you’re in the biotech industry. Let’s shift to talking about specific stocks here. As someone in the biotech industry, which no one cares about investing in, do you feel you have an edge there to invest? Do you try to take advantage of that because you do that for a living?
Pauly: Actually, in a way, I don’t, I purposely don’t. I actually work for a contract manufacturing organization that makes products for other customers, so I get to actually make products for a variety of the big names out there. I doubt it’s insider trading, but I do try to step away and look at more global things, things that are serving the whole of biotech, rather than, “Hey, I think that company has something going.” It just distances me that one step.
Southwick: Yeah. You can go ahead and write your stock picks on a piece of paper and just slide it to me. We’ll talk about that after the show.
Brokamp: They won’t be able to see it on the podcast.
Southwick: Kathy, you are an educator. I imagine you’ve educated some people around you about how to be better with that money. Do you have any advice on how to share the love with those around you?
Pfeffer-Hahn: I’m very passionate about financial literacy, again, because I feel like I came to it late myself. I have a club that I’ve been offering for the past three or four years called Fearless Financial Fellows, where the kids learn the most basic finance words, and then we have our own checkbook, and then we move into our own place and we see how much things cost. They think everything is absolutely within their budget because they’re making $20,000 a year. So, just, that reality that it doesn’t always fit into it. But we end with choosing stocks, talking about why we chose those stocks, and if I give you $5,000 invisible dollars, what could you buy? Well, you could buy one or two of this company that you’re thinking of, but maybe you want to be looking at other companies and you can get more of those. Just, talking about stocks at a very basic level. Again, that you can buy or you can buy a little, but that you have a finite set of money.
In terms of adults, again, trying to utilize what I’m going to school for, I started a company called Capital Coaching, where I meet with people and help them understand their own expenses and where they’re spending their money and how they can pay off their credit cards more quickly. That’s one person at a time, but certainly, within my circle of friends and my own children, being able to educate people, I think it just keeps coming back to that education. The financial therapy, educating people about how they are capable of dealing with their finances, that it’s not a mystery.
I know, when I first graduated college, once we eventually talked about buying a house, and they said there were so many points. I was like, “Sure! I have no idea what you’re talking about, but there are points. I don’t know what the points are for. I don’t know if they’re good or bad,” it seemed bad, but, not having that education. Knowing that I don’t have all the answers, but you can find answers, and it’s not a huge challenge, but it’s very rewarding when you do.
Southwick: Jason, you’ve been investing for, you said 20 years now? Are you that guy at the barbecue who’s always trying to get his friends interested in taking care of their money more? Or, do you just let people suffer? Do you just keep that information all to yourself?
Brokamp: Quietly enjoy your superiority.
Newman: I’m a passionate advocate for financial literacy, like Kathy. My friends would probably tell you that I’m definitely that guy, but I try to keep it in check and make it interesting. I think, investing, the way that we all invest is about learning and understanding the best businesses of our time. These businesses impact everybody at that barbecue, whether they’re interested in investing or not. So, you try to find a way to make it interesting for them.
But, my passion in life for investing is really starting to manifest itself more so in financial literacy for children. I’ve been exploring and trying to figure out ways where, instead of being that guy at the barbecue that, perhaps, others aren’t as much interested in talking to about investing —
Southwick: Aw, no, I bet they love it when you corner them!
Newman: Yeah, I bet they do. I’d rather spark those flames inside the minds of the youth, who, despite all the things they’re asked to learn in school, usually aren’t asked to learn how to keep track of their own finances. So, that’s in my future.
Pauly: I’ve done a number of those Stockpile gift cards to newborns. And I had a 13-year-old in my life come to me the other day and was like, “I want to learn about stocks. I learned about Buffett.” I’m like, “OK, be careful, because if you give me your email address, you’re going to get a deluge.”
Southwick: Like, it’s go time, let’s go! [laughs]
Pauly: But, it’s absolutely true. Culturally, the U.S. has a weird stigma about talking about money. And again, I lived in Singapore for a period of time, and it was not out of character for the person ringing up your groceries to just ask you how much money you made.
Southwick: Oh, really?! [laughs]
Pauly: Yeah! And when you’re applying for a job, your current salary and your picture is on your resume. It’s just, things have cost and it’s recognized.
Southwick: Alright, it’s time to wind down this conversation. I wanted to close with your best piece of advice for our listeners, maybe those who are starting out, maybe those who aren’t starting out, on … I don’t know, it can be advice for how to make a great brownie, if you want, or how to automate your biotechiness. Hopefully it’s a piece of advice about money, but it doesn’t have to be. Do you mind kicking us off?
Pfeffer-Hahn: Not at all. Educate yourself. As Jason said, sometimes there’s too much information, but at least take it in and make it your own education. And then get started. Just do something to get started. I think there’s no one answer, otherwise we would all own the exact same things in the exact same percents. But, get started with something that feels good to you. You’re going to make mistakes, but, just try.
Pauly: Yeah, start. You can understand it. None of this stuff is that cryptic. That’s part of the big appeal of The Fools, it’s English majors writing about finance, and it was all good and straightforward. If you use a bank, investigate a credit union. Get that better little bit of percent. My first Roth was through my credit union.
Just start. You can understand it. Start with something small and get yourself the advantages of all the normal stuff. Like Bro says, try to lower your cable bill once a year or whatever else. You can find ways to carve a little bit more money. There are everyday things you can do that will give you better returns and give you more opportunities.
Newman: Without a doubt, you have to be in the game. Getting started. But, in terms of my best piece of advice, I would say, once you’re in the game, stay in the game, back to not trying to time the market. The beauty of compound interest is what happens over decades. Thinking Munger’s sit on your butt, you know? Get in the game and sit on your butt. Or Buffett’s when you buy a company, buy it with the mindset of, the market’s closed for the next decade. Both of those pieces of advice emphasize not just getting in the game, but staying in the game, and not trying to think you’re smarter. Just buy the best businesses and let them run. Be patient.
Southwick: Great! Thank you guys so much for joining us! Do you mind sticking around for a little game?
Pfeffer-Hahn: Not at all! [laughs]
Southwick: OK, good, you have to. [laughs]
As we talked about, it’s The Motley Fool’s 25th anniversary coming up this June, so I thought it’d be fun to bring you guys and to play a game of two truths and a lie. I’m going to tell you three stories from the history of The Motley Fool. You have to figure out which one is a lie. And these are going to be hard, by the way. We’ll see how they do. You’ll be able to get them. Well, Rick will be able to get them, and you guys will be able to get them because you actually lived through it. We’ll see. First category is Tom Gardner, our favorite bachelor.
Donald Trump made an appearance on The Motley Fool Radio Show in 1999, during which David tried to set Tom up with Ivanka, since she was such a fan of The Motley Fool.
Next one, in 2000, Tom Gardner made the very first People’s list of Most Eligible Bachelors. His photo was opposite Enrique Iglesias emerging from a swimming pool, which is a rough draw.
In 2006, Tom made an appearance on the short-lived CNBC reality dating show, Buy and Hold.
Alright, those are the three.
Brokamp: Two are true.
Southwick: Two are true, one’s a lie.
Newman: The middle one’s a lie.
Southwick: That’s that Tom made the People’s very first list of Most Eligible Bachelors?
Southwick: Alright, Rex, Kathy, what do you think?
Pfeffer-Hahn: I think that, too.
Pauly: I’ll be different, I’ll say No. 3 is a lie.
Southwick: Rex, you got it right.
Pfeffer-Hahn: Wow, good job!
Southwick: In 2000, Tom Gardner was on the list of People’s Most Eligible Bachelors. George Clooney made the cover. This is how this game is going to be very tough — Tom actually was on a reality dating show in 2006, it was just that the reality dating show was called Lisa Loeb No. 1 Single, and it was about Lisa Loeb trying to find love, and he was one of the bachelors they set her up with on the show.
Southwick: I know! [laughs]
Pauly: Well, yeah, the best lies are near-truths, right?
Southwick: I know, that’s why I said these are going to be tough for you.
Newman: I really hope that’s on YouTube.
Southwick: I think he actually didn’t even make the show.
Brokamp: It didn’t even air.
Southwick: The show aired, but the Tom part didn’t.
Brokamp: The Tom episode didn’t.
Southwick: That maybe hurt. OK, so, as you guys know, every year, we do an April Fool’s joke. It used to actually fool people. Nowadays, it’s pretty hard to fool people with an April Fool’s joke. But, here are three stories about times that we actually tricked major media outlets into thinking our April Fool’s joke was real.
April 1st, 1994. Tom and David kicked off the very first April Fool’s joke by hyping the company Zygletix, an innovative septic accessories company in the country of Chad listed on the Halifax Canadian exchange. Neither the technology company or the exchange even existed, which frustrated brokers when they received calls from clients trying to get in. The stunt took off on, I believe it was on Prodigy, the billboards, at the time, and caught the attention of the Wall Street Journal, which was a huge deal for the fledgling newsletter with 316 subscribers.
April 1st, 1999. The Motley Fool launched an IPO endeavor called eDevil, a tech start-up that delivers just the deviled part of a deviled egg. You can order it online. In a few days, you get just the deviled part. You have to supply your own egg white, I guess. Anyway. Three weeks later, the website is included in the Seattle Times list of their ten favorite food websites.
April 1st, 1998. The Motley Fool issued a press release admitting to the world that they had been wrong about how most actively managed mutual funds underperform the market. The reason? Sorry guys, we had the chart upside down! The Raleigh News & Observer runs the story on the front page of their business section.
So, we have Zygletix in The Wall Street Journal, eDevil, an IPO that gives you just the deviled egg and the Seattle Times fell for it, and then mutual funds actually do outperform.
Pfeffer-Hahn: No. 3 is true, so I’m going to say No. 1.
Newman: I don’t remember Zygletix, so I’m going to say eDevil is the lie.
Pauly: I believe No. 1 and No. 3 are true, because I remember the Halifax Exchange. And, you summarized them all in appendix A of the most recent copy of the book, the Investment Guide. So, it has to be No. 2.
Southwick: You’re right, it’s No. 2. But, again, I made it tricky. That one is not true. Instead, it wasn’t eDevil, it was eMeringue, where you could order just the tops of the pie.
Newman: [laughs] That’s right.
Southwick: And the Seattle Times did list eMeringue on their list of top ten food websites. Chris Hill was working here at The Fool during the Raleigh News & Observer thing, and he said that he got such an earful from the editor of the Raleigh News & Observer when they found out that they had accidentally published that we were wrong about mutual funds, that they’d fallen for it. The very next day, they had to run a correction.
Last one. This is all about how The Motley Fool itself was a celebrity from time to time.
In season II, episode one of The Sopranos, The Motley Fool was featured in an episode as Carmela researches online how to invest her money should Tony get whacked.
Next one. The Motley Fool was featured in a season I episode of Seinfeld called The Stock Tip, where George says he got a stock tip from The Motley Fool and tries to convince Jerry and Elaine to invest, as well. Jerry takes a girlfriend to Vermont, and Elaine’s boyfriend chooses his cats over her.
Finally, The Motley Fool was featured as a question on Jeopardy in 2012. “I’ll take Apps for 1600, Alex.” “Need to watch your amalgamated button stock? This site, inspired by jesters, has an app with a real-time portfolio tracking.”
So, we have Soprano‘s, Seinfeld, or Jeopardy.
Pfeffer-Hahn: I’ve been wrong every time, so I’m going last.
Southwick: [laughs] I told you they’d be hard!
Newman: This is the tiebreaker for me. I’ll say The Sopranos was false.
Pauly: I’ll say Seinfeld was false.
Southwick: Alright! Rick, do you want to tell the story?
Engdahl: I don’t know the story, but I do know that I was asked at one point to make a fake website that looked like our front page with a couple of things emphasized so that it could be used on The Sopranos. So, what you see in that flash of a moment when you see her looking at The Motley Fool page —
Southwick: Her stocks and bonds!
Engdahl: — was made by me back in the day.
Brokamp: You’re a star!
Southwick: So, there was, in fact, a Seinfeld episode called The Stock Tip, but George got the stock tip from just a friend and not The Motley Fool.
Brokamp: And we were an answer on Jeopardy, I think more than once.
Southwick: We were an answer on Jeopardy, yeah. Which is funny to me, because, it’s like, “This site has an app with a real-time portfolio tracking.” And I’m like, ooh, apps, that’s a sore subject with The Motley Fool. [laughs] Alright, so, we have a winner. Rex, was it you? You know I’m always bad at keeping track of this. I think we’re all winners.
Brokamp: You’re all winners.
Southwick: Me in particular.
Pauly: It’s all good.
Southwick: Alright, thank you guys so much for joining us here!
Pauly: It was a lot of fun!
Newman: It was great!
Southwick: Kathy, Rex, Jason, it was fantastic to have you! Now it’s time for the closer, because that’s the show. I want to thank Brandy and Shane, who sent an awesome lenticular card from Crater Lake. I don’t have them with me right here, sorry. And, Dave, the guys who yells, “Stocks!” at the end of every postcard he sends us — he’ll just talk, talk, talk, and then he’ll be like, “Stocks!” It just makes me laugh. He sent a card from Budapest, Prague, and Austria, which means I got to cross three more countries off our list. So far, we’ve gotten postcards from 40 countries and 31 states. Not too bad.
Alright. This show is edited … do one of you guys want to decide how it’s been edited?
Southwick: Web-pagingly by Rick Engdahl! [laughs]
Southwick: For Robert Brokamp, I’m Alison Southwick. Stay Foolish, everybody!
Alison Southwick has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Rick Engdahl owns shares of AAPL, NFLX, and UA. Robert Brokamp, CFP has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends AAPL, NFLX, UAA, and UA. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on AAPL and short January 2020 $155 calls on AAPL. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.