The Paula Gordon Show
A Motley Revolution

Paula Joins in the Foolishness with Tom and David Gardner

The Brothers Gardner - Tom (l) and David (r) - were English majors who took The Motley Fool, their online financial forum onto the Internet in 1994. Mixing fun, "Foolishness" and finances, David and Tom are creating a community of people sharing information which promises to revolutionize "business as usual" in the financial industry. "Fool Global Headquarters" is in Alexandria, Virginia.

Excerpts3:30 secs

There's a revolution afoot within America's financial industry, triggered by the Internet. Two leaders of the insurrection are known to millions as The Motley Fools. They also answer to David and Tom Gardner.

The Brothers Gardner went on-line in 1994 at www.fool.com (AOL Keyword: Fool), said to be the world's most popular online financial site. They get 1.5 million hits per month and have 700,000 subscribers to their on-line newsletter. Their books The Motley Fool Investment Guide, You Have More Than You Think and The Motley Fool Investment Workbook (Simon & Schuster) are firmly planted at the top of financial best seller lists. And their newspaper column is syndicated across America.

In their Foolish way, the Gardners are telling the financial industry's secrets, defying the conventional wisdom of the financial world, much of which they believe is bad. The Fools are helping open up the closed doors behind which financial conversations were always held. Until now.

What's wrong with the financial industry as it is? Just about everything, according to these Foolish Fellows. For starters, it rewards activity, not performance. Then there is the traditional model -- you pay a lot for financial information which is tightly held by Wall Street or the car dealership or the real estate agent or the guy selling appliances. Not any more. For starters, all Motley Fool on-line sites are free. This alone makes Tom and David jingle their foolish caps with delight.

Take control of your own money, they urge. With the coming of the Internet and the explosion of information, individuals can now be in the power position, whether investing, buying real estate or financing a car.

David and Tom are upset with the financial world. But they're angriest at America's high schools, which they say fail to educate us in the basics of handling money. Investing is not hard, say these two English majors.  All you really need to be savvy is fifth grade arithmetic, your brain and a little time.

Foolish applause goes up for the growing number of people learning from each other, which brings us back to the Internet and The Motley Fool on-line.

What do these two Foolish brothers advise? Pay off your credit cards. Ask lots of questions. Use the Internet to gather information. If you really like mutual funds, buy an index fund tied to the overall market performance -- it will outperform 91% of all mutual funds. And don't let the financial media and institutions mislead you into focusing on the short term. There's strength in community and financial security, too, according to the wisdom of the Fool -- the one guy at court who could tell the truth. And usually got away with it.

Conversation 1

David and Tom Gardner (The Motley Fools) describe how two English majors became representatives for the individual investor, how they bring people together at their Internet website (www.fool.com) to make information available to all. They describe the Shakespearean tradition of "fools" from which they took their names.

The Gardners explain what it means that 91% of all mutual funds ("The Chicago Cubs of the financial world") lost to the market over the last 5 years, and suggest an alternative.

Conversation 2

The Fools believe strongly that the Internet liberates the individual and they tell how the ‘Net has the potential to change almost every aspect of commerce. Ready comparisons are made to the revolution Gutenberg triggered with his movable type printing press. Tom and David share their vision of the coming communications age putting the individual in the power position, removing secrecy from the financial world. They describe how they see everything from how Wall Street operates to how automobiles are sold changing, then describe the implications, noting that the Internet removes distinctions of gender, race and to some extent, class while removing the editing function of the media. The Gardners describe how business is leading the way for dramatic changes throughout society.

Conversation 3

All of the Motley Fool on-line sites are free, which, according to David and Tom, is completely subverting the traditional model where financial information is expensive and tightly held. Debunking conventional wisdom, they explain why they're upset with the financial world but angriest at the high schools of America.

While the Gardners believe one can manage one's money "Foolishly" and still have a full service broker or financial planner or advisor, they offer alternatives so people can get the needed information themselves. They make suggestions for protecting oneself and tell why they believe the financial system is wrong. They offer specific advise for how to get a financial professional to work for you rather than against you, including getting other people working with you on important financial decisions. Don't go into it alone if it costs more than $1,000, they counsel, and tell both why not and ways to get help.

Conversation 4

The Motley Fools describe how they gather ideas, information and articles from people across the country who are challenging old business models. They tell why "the big guys" in the financial world don't want communities to form, while they argue for scrutiny and Jeffersonian light to be shed on all financial services. They make clear they believe society needs "establishments," but also call for accountability. They give credit for their own remarkable success.

The Fools describe their financial approach and describe how a sense of community has taken tangible form, both helping individuals and recently, supporting a nationwide charity to fight poverty and hunger. They explain why they are confident of the stock market, even if it were to crash.

Conversation 5

The Gardners say they are "motley" fools in the same way the Internet community is "motley" -- full of a vast assortment of markedly different people. They describe some of the potential they see in the promise of community on the Internet, championing the written word.

Credit cards are a sore spot with the Fools, who give a strong argument for paying them off.

David describes the standard Business School approaches to starting and running a business which they carefully avoided in creating their own.

Conversation 6

Common sense and plain dealing are Foolish approaches, which Tom and David urge on us all, providing specific examples.  They tell why hurrying is almost never to your benefit while they caution against paralysis. They urge us to ask questions, get information and offer examples of both, describing how the Motley Fools are thoroughly enjoying the "great people" with whom they have connected across America.


Tom and David continue the Tomfoolery with members and guest of The Commerce Club of Atlanta.

Acknowledgements

David and Tom shared not only their lively sense of the Foolish but also their time and Fool Caps. We are inspired by what they are doing and glad we know them.

Simon & Schuster was generous in sharing books and in making Tom and David available.

We were glad for the audience who gathered with us at The Commerce Club in beautiful downtown Atlanta, GA, and, as always, grateful for the gracious hospitality The Club provides.

Additional Links:

The Motley Fool Investment Guide, The Motley Fool Investment Workbook and You Have More Than You Think are published by Simon & Schuster.

Access The Motley Fool Online or AOL Keyword: Fool


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