Two members of The Motley Fool’s people team join the podcast to talk about creating success with a contractor workforce. And Motley Fool senior analyst Tim Beyers stops by to talk about Rule Breakers.
To catch full episodes of all The Motley Fool’s free podcasts, check out our podcast center. To get started investing, check out our quick-start guide to investing in stocks. A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on June 28, 2022.
David Gardner: A few weeks ago on this podcast, I welcomed back Kara Chambers and Lee Burbage from the Motley Fool’s people and culture team, and they banged down 10 new company culture tips. This time focused on progress and growth. You had questions while Lee and Kara are back with answers. Plus is there a solution to the constant deadlock tie games we’re recently having on the Market Cap Game Show? Yes, you bet there is, penalty kicks, kidding. Well, kind of it’s the last Wednesday of the month, which means it’s your Mailbag only on this week’s Rule Breaker Investing.
Welcome back to Rule Breaker Investing, doing some calendar math. This is June 2022. We are ending the month, of course, with our Mailbag, and some of you may have been with us from the very beginning of this podcast, which means you remember those first few Rule Breaker Investing podcasts in July of 2015. The calendar math is that this week’s podcast represents the completion of our seventh full year of Rule Breaker Investing the podcast as we start with next week with an independent’s day podcast. That will be the beginning of the eighth year of this podcast. I want to, of course, thank my incredible producer, Rick Engdahl. Rick, who’s such a delight to work with anybody who’s worked with them at the Fool knows that for a few decades now. But in particular, for me, it’s an opportunity to work with somebody who cares meticulously about the work that we do every week. He edits relentlessly from one week to the next. I thank him for that. He also tends to title the podcast and writes the blurbs to explain what the podcast is about on iTunes or Spotify, you’ll see a sentence or two.
That’s Rick, almost every week, week-in and week-out and so saying that phrase reminds me to remind you that this podcast has been published weekly without a single exception, fresh content every week, for now, seven full years and no one is to thank more than Rick Engdahl. Rick, thank you very much and thank you as well to so many guests. I’m already looking for the authors in August, we’re going to have some spectacular authors joining me once again this August. But how many external guests and how many internal guests like Lee and Kara today, Motley Fool employees or analysts, have breathe life into this podcast through good markets and at present, bad. I like to be with you through thick and thin and I hope you’re with us through thick and thin. It has been a true joy ride from the first week right through to this one and beyond, so thus much for the end of the lucky seventh year of Rule Breaker Investing. Thanks for joining with me. This week we usually lead it off with some hot takes from Twitter for this Mailbag.
I just picked one this week and it’s emblematic of where we’re headed with this week’s podcasts. It’s from at Thomas Costa. Thomas writes, “A must-listen episode of Rule Breaker Investing. If you are an employee or employer, this is a truly inspirational and uplifting list of actions we all can take for life.” Thank you, David, Kara, and Lee. Thomas Costa was, of course, referencing the podcast, that I did Company Culture Tips Volume 9, progress and growth. That was on June 8th. If you didn’t have a chance to listen, listen, maybe share it out with your head of HR, and maybe you are the head of HR, in which case, share it out with your employees. Whenever saying all 10 of our tips are great, maybe not even all 10 are good but maybe one of them from one episode in this series which has been running nine episodes, maybe one of them from one episode to the next, could improve your workplace and work experience in those around you forever. Thank you, at Thomas Costa. Rule Breaker, Mailbag Item Number 1 up seven this week.
This one comes from Sam Stevens. Hi David. Here’s the tiebreaker idea for the Market Cap Game show. I’m going to pause for a second. Just mentioned that four times a year we play the Market Cap Game Show. If you’re a regular listener, you know that we just did it last week. It’s a game show. It quizzes you about market caps. Why do we quiz you about market caps? Because I think it’s a much more intelligent way of following the market to know the price tags of each of the companies out there, not the price per share, big difference, the price tags of companies and so I bring on talented analysts to make their best guesses at what the live streaming market cap is for 10 different companies as we go over an episode, they don’t know which one is going to come next. For the last few Market Cap Game Shows, we’ve tied at five to five. Now Sam Stevens, who I know personally, a former Motley Fool Summer Intern Sam, shouts out to you. Sam, you’re still listening to the podcast. Well past your Summer internships. I continue to wish you the best I trust as well with you. You’re sharing a blessing, a gift back in the form of these Mailbag items.
Let’s return now to Sam’s note. “Hi David, here’s a tiebreaker idea for the Market Cap Game Show. An 11th stock is presented to ensure no advantage is given to either player by going first or second, both players must simultaneously and secretly write down a range of market caps. The contestants, then reveal their written answers one after another, but the correct answer is of course not revealed until after both players have revealed there’s for maximum suspense,” Sam explains. “If one contestant provides a correct range and the other does not well that player wins. If both are correct, the tighter range wins, and if neither is correct while the range with the closest bound to the correct answer, wins. You can actually play the whole game this way,” Sam concludes. But I like it better as the tiebreaker. Fool-on. Sam. Sam, you have just created the newest and latest rule for the Market Cap Game Show and in honor of you, I’m going to name it the Stevens’ sudden death rule. For now on, if at the end of 10 companies in the Market Cap Game Show, the contestants are tied, we will invoke the Stevens’ sudden death rule, and we will be played by the exact rules which were well thought out and well expressed in your notes, so Sam, please know that you’ve made a permanent addition, a permanent I would say improvement to our world.
Striking one more small blow on this podcast for financial freedom. Thank you, Sam Stevens, and I’m almost already looking forward to having a tie when I welcome back Yasser El-Shimmy and Brian Stoffel in September. In the meantime, Fool on. Onto Rule Breaker Mailbag Item Number 2, this from Mark Minor. Thank you for writing it, Mark. “Hi, David, I’m a longtime Fool member and Rule Breaker investing podcast listener, and this is my first time writing. I’m surprised it’s a four-minute podcast that I’m responding to. However, I felt the need to write in regards to your May 25th, special podcast, we have met the enemy again.” You asked your listeners to do something without saying what you think should be done. Well, I don’t expect you to have all the answers and I respect your ability to remain apolitical is a pet peeve of mine,” Mark writes, “When someone asks that others do something on a topic without providing any direction as to what that something is that should be done.” Pause there. Of course, this was referring to that brief podcast I did about a month ago after the Uvalde shooting tragedy. I’m just going to pick it up there and then to answer, Mark’s note. “For some,” Mark rights to answer, “Is to arm every American with guns to provide protection. For others. The answer is to restrict gun ownership.
Either camp could use your prescription to support their argument. You have a powerful platform. If you’re going to speak on the topic, then speak on a topic.” “For the record,” Mark concludes, ”I’m squarely in the camp that calls for common sense gun control to start with banning the ownership of assault rifles, background checks, and removal of guns from person’s deemed dangerous. I believe such is in line with the right of persons to have the liberty to be free of the everyday occurrences of mass murders via guns in this country. I hope you feel the same. It would be nice to know.” Mark Minor. Well Mark, first of all, I really like your pet peeve. In fact, I think your pet peeve is a lot better than a lot of my pet peeve, so thank you. I think it does make sense if I’m going to say something and encourage everybody to think or do something on a topic, I think it is a good show of leadership on my part to say what I intend to do. I didn’t do that on that podcast and I think it’s better for me to do so. I’ll let you know straight up that in general, I agree with how you think about things. I’m not a big fan of guns. I think that’s pretty obvious to anybody who knows me. I did learn how to shoot one and Summer camp years ago.
I haven’t wanted to shoot one since. I’m not a hunter, but I’m awfully grateful for hunters because I’m a meat eater and I frankly don’t have the guts to kill an animal myself that I regularly eat at supper time. I think there’s some hypocrisy there, but we’re all flawed individuals, aren’t we? I think my own contribution in some ways was just to make that four minute podcast with Rick a month ago. That was an important contribution. I wanted to get people thinking for my own part, I went and researched further. I just spend some time online wondering how much this is a federal decision and how much this is a state or local community decision. I’ll also tell you that I went back to an essay that I’d read years ago. In fact, I couldn’t find the book, so I had to just read about the essay. It was a satirical essay by Paul Fussell from his book, Thank God for the Atom Bomb. I laughed out loud as I thought about it again because I think he has a pretty good point. I’ll just contribute this for this podcast and then move back to Rule Breaker Investing. But what I found was from the Albany Times Union, an article that was written 10 years ago.
In fact, the month before Paul Fussell, the Author, had died at the age of 88. This opinion piece, I’m going to quote from it said this, I’m quoting now from Casey Seiler’s article in the Albany Times Union written in July of 2012. ”One of the best pieces,” he writes, ”In Fussell’s 1988 collection, Thank God for the Atom Bomb and other assays is a short wicked satire aimed at the National Rifle Association’s veneration of the second amendment, or rather half of it. Surveying the NRAs headquarters, Fussell noted, the entrants inscribed with the words, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” “Somehow neglecting,” the writer goes on, “the opening clause of the amendment, ”a well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of free state.” Fussell then proceeded to offer a modest proposal that the nation should start taking those words seriously. Meaning literally, with automatic militia membership for any gun purchase, that would oblige the buyer to take part in intensive training and ”Weekly, supervised target practice, separation for the service publicly announced for those who can’t hit a barn door and quote again, there are some of the Fussell’s satirical tone.” Fussell continued in that essay. “If interstate bus fares can be regulated.
It’s hard to see why the militia can’t be, especially since the constitution says it must be.” Fussell wrote. I’ve always loved that point because the context for this amendment was within the context of a well-regulated militia. Fussell has people showing up on Saturday mornings if they want to be a gun owner, learning how to work within a militia, digging latrines. He even mentioned that, I appreciate the humor of that, but I think he has a serious point. We are living through times right now where landmark Supreme Court decisions are being made, sometimes reexamining what we did before or what we thought before. I’m taking no stance on that, but I can tell you for this one, it might be worth reconsidering why we all have that freedom. What was the context that these so-called founding fathers had when they created the second amendment? Well, I hope that makes some sense to many of my listeners anyway. But Mark, thank you very much for asking me to do that and I’m happy to share my own viewpoint. But the reason I did the podcast, the way I did is because i don’t presume anyone to either start with the assumptions that I make or end with the conclusions that I make. Mine is really to challenge your thinking in my thinking, help us be transparent and share our knowledge and challenge people with different viewpoints, not silo ourselves away from different viewpoints. I think that’s such an important thing for Fools.
After all, capital F Fools for years online we’ve had articles where we have a bull and a bear and they take opposite sides of the same stock and we publish them both in our little newspaper, if you will, the digital newspaper that is Fool.com, but that’s the spirit of our enterprise. For many years on this podcast and at Fool.com, and in my speeches and writings, I’ve said Make your portfolio reflect your best vision for our future and that line means a lot to me. It’s very important to me and it’s an investing line. But we’ve always talked about this podcast being about investing and business and life. As I’ve thought about it recently, I think I have a version of that line. That line is dedicated to your portfolio and investing. But if I were to take that same sentiments and translated into life, I would say something like make your life reflect your best vision for your community, and for each of us that’s going to suggest something different. Whether we’re talking about gun control or we talking about immigration or you’re talking about my right to sell cars through my own store in each state, which Tesla was not afforded for quite a while, by the way. But I think we all come at things from different angles, different backgrounds, and context.
I think part of being a pluralistic society is that we need to celebrate that diversity. I sure do. I’ll always remember Nick Applebee on this podcast, I’m checking now is May tenth, 2017. You can see that interview with the author of the book Mind Wise, which I recommend. Nick Applebee gave me a great question that you can use too dear Fool. Whenever you talk with somebody in a political context, especially if it seems a little touchy, like, should we be talking politics right now? Is that comfortable, it’s a cocktail party or whatever it is, the great question Nick gave me and you to ask people is after they’ve given their viewpoint, the question to them is, how did you arrive at the conclusion that you have reached? I think out of each of our own stories and backgrounds, we have arrived to conclusions, but asking people to make those explicit, to explain how they got to where they got is so much more interesting and valuable than merely hearing whether they are pro this or anti that. There’s a concluding thoughts for you. Thanks Mark.
Rule Breaker Mailbag Item Number 3 speaking of newspapers, this one from Eric, ”Dear David, I usually make it a rule not to correct people, but I know you love the origins of expressions.” By the way, Eric, I also love being corrected, so that works too. Returning to his note, ”I wanted to offer a clarification to something you said on the June 1st episode, you mentioned how the phrase below the fold was an online expression. Well as a former newspaper reporter, I can say it’s definitely an analog one going back to the days of print newspapers. ”In contrast to a Tabloid newspaper,” Eric writes, ”which is more square, that’s in shape. A traditional “broad sheet”, newspapers much taller than it is wide, and of course folds in the middle. When placed in the newspapers stand only the top half of the front page is visible. Anything below the fold is hidden from view. As a reporter, any page one story was a point of pride,” Eric concludes, “but getting it above the fold was so much sweeter.
Thanks for the chance to go down memory lane. Eric” Well, Eric, I really appreciate that note. I don’t think I have to say too much more than good on you. Thank you for sharing that. I’m sorry that I referred to below the fold, is it online expression? I also grew up with newspapers and I think I knew what you wrote, but I did misspeak. I’m all about trying to get things right even if we have to patch it up later, which by the way, is what the Mailbag has often represented for this podcast for years and years, an opportunity to revisit whether it was something I said wrong about a stock or in this case, about a phrase from the English language, and for my brilliant worldwide listenership to help me get smarter and all of us to share it out. Eric, you nailed it. Thank you. May you always live above the fold. Well, without further ado, let me welcome back Kara Chambers and Lee Burbage. Kara and Lee great to have you joining me for this Mailbag.
Kara Chambers: Hello.
Lee Burbage: Hi. So good to be back.
David Gardner: Thank you. I’m not surprised at all that you are back. You’re probably not surprised that you’re back is typically when you both come on, we get questions or tips or thoughts, and I find myself at the end of that month saying, well we have to have you back for Mailbag to react, and that’s what we’re going to do with the next few items. Before we get started it is Summer, Kara. It is Summer, Lee. Quick icebreaker, I will turn to you first, Kara, your second favorite flavor of ice cream. It’s Summer.
Kara Chambers: Second favorite?
David Gardner: Yes.
Kara Chambers: I’m only a mint chocolate chip person pretty much. I’d rather die on a mint chocolate chip and that’s it.
David Gardner: I love mint too, I totally do. You do not have a second favorite flavor ice cream?
Kara Chambers: I’ll take anything chocolate flavored it after that but I would opt for no ice cream if I was.
David Gardner: I don’t think it’s possible to answer the second favorite question without saying what one’s favorite is. Lee, what’s your second favorite flavor of ice cream? [laughs]
Lee Burbage: Well I’ll say that like Kara, I’m not a big ice cream person. I think I’d rather have two helpings of my entree. But if I’m going to ice cream, my second favorite typically is the bubblegum, where you’re like, it’s like vanilla ice cream, but there’s actual pieces of gum inside.
Kara Chambers: [laughs] I’ve had it.
Lee Burbage: Yeah, the concept is great but when you’re actually eating, you’re like this might have been a mistake. [laughs]
David Gardner: In my experience, that flavor starts looking like vanilla, but it doesn’t look too wide after another three or five minutes. It starts looking purpley and then orange and then it ends up brown.
Lee Burbage: Something like that. [laughs]
David Gardner: The bubble gum still tastes like bubblegum. Thank you. Lee, I feel somewhat duty-bound. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Lee Burbage: Well I will go with the Sherbet. There’s a few good flavors of Sherbet, but I’m a sucker. I grew up on the pop-up. I think that’s what it’s called, but you get from the ice cream man and especially Sherbet and a tube, that was always my favorite as a kid.
David Gardner: Push-ups.
Lee Burbage: Push ups. There we go. Yes.
David Gardner: Those are pretty timeless. I had them as a kid. My kids had them as kids. I bet their kids will have them as kids, Push-ups.
Kara Chambers: Push Pops?
David Gardner: Push Pops. Let’s get to a slightly more important topic. Mike McMahon wrote, Rule Breaker, Mailbag Item Number 4, ”Being a newish listener to the RBI podcast, listening to the company culture number nine was new for me.” Mike writes. By the way, Kara, Lee, didn’t we have a former employee named Mike McMahon?
Lee Burbage: We’ve had a lot of Mikes and we’ve had a lot of McMahons. [laughs] But I’m not sure we’ve ever had a Mike and a McMahon together.
David Gardner: I thought he was a techie, but if we did have a techie named Mike McMahon, this clearly isn’t he because he did not at all refers to that and he is a new listener still.
Lee Burbage: We do have a Mike Mulligan who is one of my favorites because one of my favorite child books was Mike Mulligan and Steam Shovel. I will have a fun that sorts Mike Mulligan.
David Gardner: Mike is a great guy with a lovely sense of humor, so I like that about that techie too. But back to the question. ”I have a question,” writes Mike McMahon. ”For Lee Burbage and Kara Chambers.” He spelled your names right? ”What ideas/recommendations, do they have for companies who are using contractors or gig workers and the integration of those workers as part of the company culture?” That seems a very ocher on question, a good question to ask, Mike. So many companies, including ours, are making use in lots of different ways of contractors. Lee, Kara who wants to take that one first?
Lee Burbage: I can start out David, this is something that we’ve been working on for 27 years since the Fools started, and you and Tom started the company we almost right away hired people out in our community that were contributing to our content and so forth. The first thing I would say is I think we’ve learned that you might need to recognize that someone who’s choosing the life of a contractor may not want the same company culture that your full-timers want. A couple of years ago, I think largely based on your encouragement, David, we hired someone to solely focus on our contract workforce and that’s been a big deal for us, so having someone who at least part of their job is fully focused on the needs of our contractors, which we find can be different than those of our full-timers. That’s the job that you’ve chosen, has been powerful and Michael McCoy, who does that for us, has created surveys. We’re now surveying our contractors to find out exactly what their needs are. He’s created a social Slack channel for them, just for them where they can talk to one another. Andy works with our editorial staff on an annual conference just for our contract staff to give them a little bit more information if they’d like, about things that are going on at the company and our initiatives and so forth. Those are the things that we’ve done but I would just say recognizing that a lot of times the person that’s chosen the path of individual contractor, doesn’t necessarily want to be part of a big company culture. Again, just make sure you understand what those people actually want and then you can serve it to them.
David Gardner: Really glad you’re pointing that out and the work of Mike McCoy at the Fool. By the way not to be confused with another Scott Irish Mike McMahon who wrote this, no but yeah, Mike McCoy, the Fool, I love the work that he is doing. One thing I think not a lot of our listeners may not know that we three know, I think we have as many or more contractors than employees at The Motley Fool. This is a very substantial number of people and contribution that’s been made for, as you mentioned Lee, more than two decades. I would say especially would make sense for the Motley Fool to have somebody full-time thinking about supporting in part, empathizing, overseeing a large contract labor force. Now, most of our contractors, as you both know are writers, so many of the articles that go out from the Motley Fool, you’ll find them on many different sites over the course of the day saying why has the stock done what it just did this day, so many of those are written by our contractors. We have contractors helping us in all kinds of ways. I know we have techies too, and Mike McCoy knows that a lot better than I do, but I’m so glad that we’ve been doing that Lee and we are crazily. We’re actually a bigger contracting company than company company. Kara what would you like to add or subtract?
Kara Chambers: There’s some universal needs for people, feeling connected, feeling like you have a voice. But I think going the contractor path means you’re not necessarily tied to any one company, so that identity is again, by nature, is independent and it’s temporary so you’re on your own. I think we’ve had to do some work on differentiating the two experiences. That’s an interesting and fun though. There’s things we can learn from each other and we do.
David Gardner: I’m curious whether either of you has reflections, because many a time has it happened that the one became the other. Many times had contractors who then become full-time employees. We’ve had full-time employees who go to become contractors. Have you noticed any trends or obtained any insights, any anecdotes from any of those? Any learnings that we could share back out for when butterflies become other types of butterflies?
Lee Burbage: A lot of it has to do I think with, who you are and how you like to work, how you’re motivated. Some people just really prefer what is often more task oriented. Again, independent lifestyle of a contractor and others want to be part of a bigger, oftentimes more murky navigation of a big organization. There’s different types of ways people like to work and that can shift in your lifetime as well based on your personal situation. Again, or how you’ve grown as a human.
David Gardner: Another huge change, obviously, that was brought on by COVID is work from home. I think it was a fair generalization about The Motley Fool anyway, in our first 20 years before COVID, that most if not all of our contractors were working from home and most, if not all, not quite all, but most of our employees were working from the office. There was a real, I think bifurcation, a real siloing or difference. They were two different types of individuals. Lee and Kara, these days and Mike McMahon’s question closes with integration of those workers as part of the company culture. Now Lee, you’ve been speaking to the importance of recognizing they have different needs often. But maybe we’re a little bit more similar than we were three years ago. I have to admit I would be sitting in a conference room sometimes thinking, do we have to ask Tony to Zoom in. They’re working from home. It’s much more convenient just to be around the table. But now we’re more of a hybrid workplace and I’m not talking about our company anymore. I’m talking about so many different companies so it does seem as if integration is even more necessary.
Kara Chambers: I might add, it’s the separation that’s interesting to me that the contractor is the type of work you’re doing where it tends to be, as employees, what you don’t want us to treat your work transactionally, but as a contractor, you do because that is the nature of it. I think for us, it’s really been better at helping us think about what the difference between the jobs are. You’re right, it’s not just because of contractor is someone that just doesn’t come to the office because that it’s not true any more. But to me, I felt like it was more about the understanding what’s the contactor role and what isn’t. We’ve been forced to make that clear, which is good.
Lee Burbage: I think the tools, evolution is also a big one because everyone is now working and maybe more disjointed or remote way, there’s a lot of cool new tools that have come about to serve the full-time employee that are also great for the contract workforce. I know that we’ve upgraded really, I think all of our tools that we use in the way that we’re working with signing people up, on-boarding, giving out projects, managing projects, all those types of ways that we work together with our contract workforce has just gotten better. I think that’s in part because we all need those same types of technical tools now.
David Gardner: Would you like to give an unsolicited unpaid for a plug? That’s what every plug ever on this show has ever been about a tool or particular site that’s been helpful in some of what you just described, Lee, for contractors.
Lee Burbage: Sure. For many years, we worked with a large company called Upwork that still exists today. They were a huge partner for us and getting us set up to where we are. Then recently, we’ve pivoted to a company called Worksuite. That’s a little bit more of a start-up than Upwork, but real specific to our types of needs in the way that we work. Now we actually work with both those companies again, depending on the relationship with individual contracts and what our needs are. But they’re both great companies and they’ve both been awesome partners for us.
David Gardner: Let’s move on to Eric Eason and Rule Breaker Mailbag Item Number 5. “Hi, David. I’ve so enjoyed hearing the workplace culture ideas that Kara and Lee have shared with us over nine Rule Breaker episodes. Not only do they have enough material for an Episode 10 best of which, by the way, is going to be our next one. It’s time for the best off. We’ve talked about it. But Eric goes on, they actually have enough material to write a book replete with real life results within the Motley Fool and no doubt within other companies. I encourage them to write such a book as it would be of inestimable value to so many people around the world and the companies for which they work. Cheers, Eric Eason.” Well, Eric, that is a delightful sentiment. Kara, Lee, are you inspired? Is it book deal time? Are you already working with an agent? Sounds like I agree with Eric, you should be.
Kara Chambers: I love that idea. [laughs] Yeah, you could just go through all of the Slacks and PowerPoints and email we’ve all centered over time and probably just all add up like oral history of the Fool, I guess that’s happening. I do love that. We have day jobs right now. But for now, we looked at this question. Said, well, let’s suggest some others if you want to read them.
David Gardner: That’s nice.
Kara Chambers: We have really liked Work Rules! by Laszlo Bock, he is the Head of People at [Alphabet‘s] Google. What we really liked about that and we talk to him, we met him, similar to our philosophy, if you listen to any of our podcast, we as HR people do not have an adversarial relationship. You don’t want to create a defensive relationship with Fools or people who work for you. I really loved reading Laszlo’s book because he’s very much about that. I would recommend that one. Then the other one we’ve read and just gobbled up was by a woman named Liz Wiseman. It was called Impact Player. That one is probably appeals to really broad group of listeners how to achieve where you want to be in your job and just really collaborating a way that when we read it, we said, oh, this sounds like what helps Fools succeed. Things that feel very well fit into our culture, those would be the two that came to me off the top of my head.
David Gardner: Well, thank you very much, Kara. That’s great. I just want to say ahead of time, I can’t wait for your book that you’re going to write with Lee and I guarantee you’ll be on Authors in August that year, maybe it’s next year. Not sure. Sounds like you’re not itching to write a book or you’re not right about to I don’t know block off time together to put something out there. But I’ll say this, the value that you’ve contributed through nine podcasts on this podcast over the years is clearly very high. I love that Eric called that out, and I think you both deserve our thanks. Thank you again for all of the insights that you shared. If I’m right, my math as we talked about it earlier this month when we did our ninth, it’s 10 tips each episode, that means 90 tips that we’re going to get to come through as we put together a best off for Episode 10 at the end, I’ve been saying, of this year-ish. There’s a lot to come through. There’s a lot there. I do think there’s a book there. I think the world would love it and let’s move onto Rule Breaker Mailbag Item Number 6, which comes from Germany. Andreas Holm.
Thank you, Andreas. “Hi, David. Foremost, I’m sending you gratitude from Germany all the way over the pond to you and the team at The Motley Fool. I listen to the Rule Breaker Investing podcast regularly since the pandemic and I appreciate those company culture-related episodes, whether it’s about the Motley Fool company or any other company for that matter. The tip I appreciate the most in the latest Company Culture Tips was the definition of my role. I’ve never heard someone asking whether a senior consultant or a financial analysts can help to solve a problem. Instead, the questions revolve around what people do know, what do they care about or what do they simply great at. Putting that on display will lead to more efficient communication because I can search for a topic of interest and find the right person in my company.” I’m going to pause it right there. Kara and Lee, not everybody did get to hear you a few weeks ago. Can you just briefly reiterate the tip that Andreas is referencing?
Lee Burbage: Yeah. Andreas is talking about my role, which we discussed in the previous podcast. Essentially, this is our efforts to fill in the gap where we don’t use job titles at The Motley Fool and instead have individuals describe what it is they are actually doing, the impact that they’re making at the company in 60 characters or less. It’s an easy place, hopefully, for people to look to see what others are doing. That will be a lot more helpful and descriptive than Senior Vice President of Executive Programming Drafting. [laughs]
David Gardner: You’re right, which is about 60 characters itself but. Andreas, he’s really underlining this, it’s about roles, not titles and role in one’s own words can be much more helpful often to people who are trying to figure out who is this person and how do they work and what do they do at this company, whether it’s your own company or somebody else’s? Yes, that’s what we’ve been, I’m not going to say pioneering because I’m quite sure somebody else, the Greeks anyway, had done this at some point. [laughs]But that’s the train we’re on at the Fool, real de-emphasis on job titles and emphasis on my role, which leads to the first of Andreas’s two questions. He said, “I have one question about this to Kara and Lee because it wasn’t mentioned on the podcasts. How would it look if teammates were able to collectively add a second line to describe my role from their perspective? I believe it’s also important to understand which values I delivered to others and the best opportunity to gather this knowledge,” Andreas writes, is to receive it from people I work with regularly and make it visible through their contribution. It’s also a learning opportunity for me when I don’t know which additional values I bring to the table. I love that point, team. Andreas has suggested maybe there’s a second 60 characters. You, in other people’s words, what you’re good at in. Andreas has even mentioned, he’s curious what people think he’s good at. But I bet there’d be a lot of additional info, maybe some hobbies or personality that pop through that. Any thoughts back on Andreas’s first question?
Lee Burbage: Well, I’ll say think I will give Andreas feedback that he’s good at asking questions and also good at looking at what’s the next level of things. I like where he’s going. I think I’ll just speak maybe more generally and Kara can talk maybe more specifically about how we see that in our work. But if you’ve listened to prior podcast, you’ve heard Kara and I perhaps talk about the signals that one is getting. She and I spend a lot of time talking about people are inflow state we know when their self-aware of the impact they’re making. That view is shared by their boss, so they are aligned with their boss about their impact and with the people that are working around them. You have this beautiful spot where you know what you’re good at, your boss agrees and everyone around you is also in alignment then you’re in-flow state. It’s important to pay attention to the signals that you’re getting from all of those parties to try to get to that perfect zone.
Kara Chambers: I like this idea and I think one of the pieces of training we give our managers is that telling people what they do best helps people create an identity for themselves. A lot of times when you don’t want to give negative feedback that is critical and put a critical label on a person that tends to backfire and people reject it. But the opposite happens when someone says, David, you’re very conscientious person. Andreas, you’re really great at asking questions. He start to adopting that as part of his identity and does more of that. Anytime that you have an opportunity as a leader or a peer to give a positive label to someone, they will absorb that into their identity and they will do that even more and they will excel. I was just thinking as we were putting that together, there’s a couple of ways we do that here with our Gold program where we share with people, praise and thanks somethings.
I do encourage people to frame it that way, is give people a positive label about themselves. That’s fun. Then you just inspired me too just thinking about company, you probably know, called Lastian. They were framework you can google called roles and responsibilities where you do exactly that, where you sit with your team and we just did this recently on our team. Type in what other people are doing in their roles. Then our team, because we all like each other so much we have lots of complements in there. But that is a helpful exercise to deep blur, but it also is a nice way to do what Eric’s talked about is to get together and say, what do you think my role is? Because it’s a different.
David Gardner: All right, thank you for that. Andreas, you clearly, sir, are a fellow Fool. You get it. I love what Lee said about you asking good questions and also going to the next level of thought which can lead to next-level actions. Let me finish out Andreas’ note because he takes a different angle here at the end. I’d love for you both to comment on this. He continues, wait have we mentioned that or are we not hyping that enough? Yes, we have mentioned that a few times. I’m the one hyping this up and it’s going to be great. “Looking into the future, you David mentioned the top 10 Culture Tips episode might be up next with so many years running.” This episodes. I was wondering about a question, the episode could answer. “Which company culture tips do you not follow today anymore and how did you identify that it does not work?” Now, when we put together that top 10, maybe there’s a bloopers the 11 or 12 the thing we said three years ago that we no longer agree with and that will be a fun exploration, Lee and Kara, if you have anything like that, queue it up and speak to in a minute. If not, we will try to share that during the top 10 that comes at the end of this year.
But I really like that question, but I want to continue because Andreas goes onto say, “It’s great to come up with new solutions to solve old problems and it’s better to learn from mistakes early on when the solution to the problem does not work out” in other words it fail fast friends. “In my personal experience,” he mentioned, “I noticed that managers take cultural ideas and terminologies from other companies without creating or having the appropriate environment where these ideas could flourish.” Therefore, I’m seeking more universal ideas like the my role culture tip, which can be implemented anywhere because it doesn’t matter what culture or environment you already have. Let’s call it right there. I think that’s true. Isn’t it Lee and Kara? We talked about this ahead of this podcast, but we were saying every company has its own culture and if we think of that as soil rich loam, you need to have the right soil for the seed that we planted in a podcast to grow. Sometimes I can imagine, these wouldn’t grow in other cultures because their soils just flat out different. It might be richer or thinner than ours or a different color altogether. I think the nutrients of a company culture are different from one to the next. I guess that’s why he’s emphasizing the benefits of the more universal ones.
Lee Burbage: Yes, I think that’s true. Kara and I always like to tell people that, we’re trying to talk about things that worked for us. Hey, by the way, a lot of times they’re things that we’ve learned from other companies that we’ve worked a little bit. You have to think about your own culture and what’s going to work there. We have of course, made mistakes. I look forward to going through those 90 to see which ones don’t work anymore. I do know one of your favorites, David a few years ago, tried to have a virtual assistant in our office. The company I mentioned earlier, Upwork, which is all about remote work and contractors. They had it and I was like, that’s a great idea we should emulate that and that will work great in our office and it was pretty much a disaster. Did not go well, we had virtual person on a screen when you came into our office and it just didn’t work for our culture. It freaked people out a little bit. That’s OK. We’re going to have some things that we tried, some things that fail and it gives us something to laugh about later.
David Gardner: Absolutely. Back in those days, you walked into the Fool and there wasn’t the traditional receptionist upfront in the office, well there was except it was a computer screen and it was somebody who might be living on the other coast.
Lee Burbage: Yes.
David Gardner: Maybe a West Coast person. Maybe her head was a little too big like larger than life.
Kara Chambers: Don’t look at me. [laughs]
David Gardner: Normal receptionist have normal sized human heads but maybe we like had two biggest screen, and he wouldn’t say hi necessarily, but leer at you initially and you’d leer back and it was uncomfortable for a good nine or 12 months and it is worth laughing about. These days, I can imagine max headroom might make even more sense in an increasingly hybrid world, but maybe we were ahead of our time, Lee. Andreas closes out his note and I have to read this because I love it. It’s German, of course, next up. “Listen to the Reviewapalooza episode, he writes, and you should know that schadenfreude is not the most beautiful freude, that’s pleasant anticipation.” Andreas writes, “Ist dechenes der freude. Have a fantastic day.” Thank you, David, everyone at the RBI podcast for your time, effort and great content. Well Lee and Kara, I was full up fur freude prior to your arrival today. I’m delighted to have you both joining it again at the end of this June 2022, you didn’t hear me at the start, but this is the final week of the 7th year of this podcast.
Lee Burbage: Well congrats.
David Gardner: Thank you lucky seven, thanks for being with the right here all the way through next week we’ll start the 8th year and I look forward to a top-10 cultural tips episode. Kara, I was thinking this maybe as you and Lee look over the 90, you find the five, count them up or down that we least believe in now, and we could call that the Andreas-Tom list. I think we should present it in that podcast that will make it even better. It sounds like you’re up for that.
Kara Chambers: Yes.
Lee Burbage: Absolutely.
David Gardner: Let’s do it. While in the meantime, keep enjoying that mint chocolate chip ice cream and that bubblegum ice cream even if you don’t eat ice cream that often
Lee Burbage: Oh yes.
David Gardner: Thank you both and Fool-on.
Lee Burbage: Thank you.
Kara Chambers: Thank you.
David Gardner: All right. Closing it out this week, Rule Breakers Mailbag Item Number 7. This one is from Tim. “Hi David. Can I run an idea by you? How would you feel about a Rule Breaker Investing podcast interview, talking about Rule Breakers where it is now. What’s similar? What’s different, etc. I want people to know how much the product means to me personally and to all of us as a team. It may also just be fun to talk through some of the past lessons learned that we’re applying now as we build out the scorecard. Do you think that would be interesting and or valuable? Signed, Tim Beyers,” who is helping to head up Motley Fool Rule Breakers and in a rule-breaking moment for this podcast, I think Tim, for the first time ever we’re having the corresponded join us to be part of the answer on the podcasts. Tim Beyers, welcome back to Rule Breaker Investing.
Tim Beyers: Thanks for having me, David. I have to admit I’m a little bit surprised that you read my mail on the air, but you know what? I love it. That’s great. I’m so glad that we got this going because it is really important to me. I love Rule Breakers for so many reasons.
David Gardner: Thank you, Tim, it was a little unfair me I guess I didn’t quite play by the rules, but we don’t expect that on this podcast.
Tim Beyers: No we never do.
David Gardner: You didn’t actually write this into our Mailbag. This is just what you Slacked me on our corporate Slack yesterday.
Tim Beyers: Right.
David Gardner: I said Tim, that sounds like a great idea. Obviously, the Rule Breakers service from The Motley Fool is of a biding interest to me into so many others who listen in each week. I think it does make great sense to have you back. Not only are you hearing here briefly as a cameo on the Mailbag that you yourself wrote but more importantly, Tim, you and I talked about in two weeks from today, we will do a podcast together, just looking, as you said at the Rule Breakers service where it is now? What’s similar? What’s different? I mostly just want you to come on so I could thank you for your leadership over this past year, it has been a market that I didn’t expect to be this bad. Nobody could have known that it would be this bad.
Tim Beyers: Yeah.
David Gardner: Anytime you’re succeeded, you always want the best conditions for those who succeed you. I feel as if outside of our control, I didn’t leave you a very good market to pick in. I know that because I still own all the stocks that I always have, most of which are Rule Breakers and they’re all cut in half just about.
Tim Beyers: Yeah.
David Gardner: I’m sure we’ll talk about that a little bit in two weeks. But Tim, do you want to share anything now previewing our conversation in two weeks?
Tim Beyers: Yeah. Rule Breakers has changed over the years that I’ve been on it. What I said to you before we were on the air, going back to my days contracting, it goes all the way back to 2003 when I started as a contractor and then Motley Fool Rule Breakers started the very next year, the end of I think it was September. Do I have that right? Was this September 2004
David Gardner: Our first issue was in was October 2004, but of course we wrote it in September and the planning was probably for the year before that, but yes, Rule Breakers debuted October 2004.
Tim Beyers: Okay. Then I came on board in April 2005. We’re now on 17 years for me and of all of the relationships I’ve had, so that stretches for my time as a contractor to joining full-time.
David Gardner: I’m so glad you mentioned that, Tim, I want to interrupt you briefly because of course, we just had a conversation with Kara and Lee about how some people at the Fool go from contractor to full-time or vice versa. Without cutting off where you were going because we’re going to get there. But I’d love to just quickly ask you, in light of that conversation, any reflections on the transition that you made from a contractor, as you mentioned back in the early 2000s to a full-time employee in the 2010s?
Tim Beyers: I am so grateful that I made that transition. There are some people who are built for it. The Fool is such a great culture and it extends all the way out to the contractors, and so you always feel like you’re a part of that culture and you really want to contribute like an employee, but there’s this practical legal reality that you can’t because legally that’s just not available to either you or to the Fool, and so you’re always left with a little bit of, I would say for me personally, I won’t speak for everybody, but for me, it was like a little bit of longing. This is great and we love each other but we’re just going to be really close. But there’s just going to be this thing between us that where we just can’t get closer. Then that changes when you come inside and you get the full benefits of being part of this very vibrant culture that you are a part of but you got to experience more deeply. The good part of that is it’s a wonderful culture. The bad part about that is you are exposed to everything. When things are like they are right now, you feel it way more intensely. Getting back to what I was saying about how much I care about Rule Breakers, I feel it more intensely, although I always felt it because again, these are you, Rick, and Karl.
David Gardner: Rick Munarriz and Karl Thiel, yeah?
Tim Beyers: Karl Thiel. I’ve known all of you for over 17 years and we’ve had experiences that go way back. I don’t know if you’ll remember this day because you didn’t go with us, but it was me and Karl, Sarah Goddard, Austin Edwards, our former Fool Product Manager, Ursula Mead, who was with us and we all went out to Silicon Valley and we did like a Rule Breakers tour and that was like 2010. We’ve had many adventures together. I’ve done a lot of important things at The Motley Fool, and I will diminish none of them because they are amazing. But the thing that I’m doing right now, leading Rule Breakers, I think may be the most important thing I’ve ever done in my Fool career. Right now for a lot of people, a lot of Rule Breakers members, it feels shaky, it feels like some things are different and some things are the same and it’s weird. I felt like, well, let’s get into that because I think there’s a lot of long-term members who are deeply invested in the product too. I love Rule Breakers. I want it to be better than it’s ever been. It’s been so good to me. There are certain things that you internalize and that are deeply personal. This is one of those things, if that makes sense.
David Gardner: It does. Chris, you’ve been on this podcast a number of times before so some may remember this, but one of the contributions you made to Rule Breakers was Salesforce, which I’m now checking our records, January 21st, 2009, you nudge that one forward. Tim, that was your pick for the Rule Breakers scorecard. The cost basis was below $7 a share, so $6.89. These days with a ranking closer to 168 instead of 6.8, it’s been a spectacular investment at 20 plus bagger. Those great things have happened over time. I’ll just close by saying, Tim, it’s that relationship that we’ve had over time. The relationship we have with our members and each of us with our portfolios, it’s making sure you put in the time to get the success, to get the 22 baggers to happen. They rarely happens overnight and most of the time it takes time to really appreciate the power of time and not being a little bit circular in my thinking. But part of what we love about this service has always been the relationships that we have with each other and with our members. I’m going to look forward to looking at the Rule Breakers service more. We’re going to talk stocks in two weeks and some of what’s different and some of what’s remained the same. I don’t even know what we’re going to be talking about, Tim, because you’re bringing your viewpoint, your story, and some of your experience over the last year to bear. I think it’s a great way to end this Mailbag to let everybody know that we’ll talk Rule Breakers, the service with Tim, Mailbag Item number 7 corresponded, Tim Beyers ahead of Motley Fool Rule Breakers in two weeks. In the meantime, Tim, I do need to ask you before we close, what is your second favorite flavor of ice cream?
Tim Beyers: Second favorite? If pecan praline is number one, I think just a really good, creamy vanilla is number two. I tend to like more of the vanillas. But boy, if you get me like caramel, pralines, creamy vanilla, oh man, you have me at hello at that point.
David Gardner: Have you ever done like a vanilla ice cream taste test like lined up five different brands.
Tim Beyers: Oh, my God.
David Gardner: Ever seen with the brand labels, and just had it out?
Tim Beyers: Well now I need to. [laughs]
David Gardner: I’ve never done it myself, but I’ve always imagined because I also love vanilla ice cream. I often pick it first. It’s not my favorite, it’s probably my second favorite, but it does taste very differently from one vanilla to the next.
Tim Beyers: That is so true.
David Gardner: Who is the real vanilla?
Tim Beyers: Right. Is it French vanilla? Is it regular vanilla? That is so true. There’s lots of variations.
David Gardner: We’re going to have to leave that rhetorical as time ends for this particular podcast. But Tim Beyers, again, great to be with you. Thanks for joining in. See you in two weeks. To all of our fellow Fools, it’s Summer time, whether the market is up or down today, tomorrow, yesterday, I hope that you’re making sure you have some Summer in your Summer. For me, that means you owe it to yourself to enjoy your second favorite flavor of ice cream at some point in the month of July. For Rick Engdahl and all of us here at The Fool. Fool on!