Step 2: Trade Wisdom for Foolishness


When you’re plying your trade in the investment world, calling yourself Foolish (note the capital “F”) is normally inadvisable. As you’ve probably surmised, we think quite the opposite.

The short version of where we got our name is this: We nicked it from Shakespeare.

The slightly more detailed back story is this: Our company name is in homage to the one character in Shakespearean literature — the court jester — who could speak the truth to the king and queen without having his head lopped off. (“A fool, a fool, I met a fool i’ the forest, a motley fool,” says Jacques in Act II, scene VII of As You Like It.)

The Fools of yore weren’t simply stand-up comics sporting belled jester caps — they entertained the court with humour that instructed as it amused. More importantly, the Fool was never afraid to question conventional wisdom, particularly when popular thought was detrimental to the kingdom’s people.

See where we’re going with this?

Back in 1993, when the Fool debuted in the USA (“Fool US”) — first as a print newsletter which later moved online — The Motley Fool looked around and saw all the conventional financial advisor “wisdom” in the financial world and we wondered why no one was crying foul.

So blatantly ripping off Billy Shakespeare (after consulting a few lawyer friends), donning the jester caps (a job requirement), The Motley Fool set out to expose what was wrong with the establishment and counter it with a healthy dose of honest, commonsense Foolishness.

Our mission has always been and continues with Fool Australia to be to educate, amuse, and enrich. We’ve taken the liberty of scribing a mission statement just for you, too: Get smart(er), make money, and have fun.

But first, you may be wondering exactly what we get out of all this feel-good-empowerment-join-our-team stuff. We’re glad you asked …

What’s in it for us?

Navel-gazing warning: The following section may seem rather self-indulgent. That’s because it is. For those who are curious about our company, our business model, and the main difference between us and the rest of the financial trade, read on. If that’s not you, skip ahead to the next section. No hard feelings, honest.

In all seriousness, The Motley Fool truly is a place with a passion and a purpose. We are dedicated to educating, amusing, and enriching every single person who visits Fool.com.au, happens to catch us quoted in the press or even sees one of us on TV (in full Fool regalia, if there isn’t a dress code).

Fool US’ workplace has won awards and been highlighted as one of America’s great places of employment, and debates are settled at the table tennis table. Here in Australia, although we are only new to the investment scene, we have a team deep in experience, with deep Foolish values.

In short, we are serious about the business of financial education and advice. After all, your money is on the line, and so is ours.

The Motley Fool is a commercial enterprise, we have investors, a board of directors, and goals, — just like any other company.

Over in the USA and UK, The Motley Fool has services that it is proud to sell – primarily a suite of premium stock-picking services. Here in Australia, we have a similar service, Motley Fool Share Advisor.

But we also never, ever forget that our measure of success is whether we have enriched people’s lives in a direct way. We do this every day with the free content and information we provide right here on Fool.com.au.

But enough about us. Perhaps you’re wondering what’s in it for you? What exactly will you get by trading wisdom for Foolishness?

Get smart(er)

We know that most people have never formally been taught much about finance or investing.

Obviously, we think that’s ridiculous. The harsh reality is that only one person has your best interests at heart — you. Our job is to show you how to take control of your own financial life so you can make confident, well-informed decisions about every dollar that passes through your hands, whether you’re saving it, spending it, paying it back or making it grow.

Make money

Most everything in Fooldom is here to fulfil this part of your mission. And you’ve found the exact right place to start: The next steps of our 13 Steps to Financial Freedom will help you along the way.

In this series of articles, we lay out a systematic approach to investing that should benefit novice and seasoned investors alike. We cover almost every money situation you can imagine – paying off debt, finding no-brainer ways to save, smart asset allocation, finding the right investing strategy for you, and even the pitfalls you should avoid.

But, of course, our job is not complete unless you have some fun along the way.

Have fun

In the USA, back in 1994, Fool US hyped a fictional penny share called Zeigletics on one of the Internet’s first “chat rooms”. “Zeigletics” manufactured “linked sewerage disposal systems for the central African nation of Chad.” Literally, it shovelled excrement.

The aim was to “out” the penny share hype-sters that were abusing the chat rooms. Their electronic pyramid scheme — pumping tiny, thinly traded shares to get other investors to load up so they could dump shares at the first sign of an uptick — was not just harmful to investors, but it also degraded the real conversations people were having.

So the Fool fought them the only way we know how: by trying to kill them with humour.

A few posts was all it took to get investors excitedly looking to buy shares on the Halifax Stock Exchange (which doesn’t exist).  Many of the hype-sters were duped, and they were furious at our little joke.

The weekend project — the Fool’s first April Fool’s Day prank — landed Fool US a spot in the Wall Street Journal and introduced Foolishness to Wall Street. But the real triumph wasn’t the press attention or the prank — it was the amazing thing that we witnessed during the weekend of the Zeigletics gag: People started playing along with the joke.

We’re all Fools

Members of the Fool’s online community joined the gag, hyping Zeigletics, hinting at their “inside information,” and bragging about their “amazing returns” investing in the fictional sewage disposal outfit in Chad.

Zeigletics showed us what a group of like-minded individual investors could accomplish by banding together. Even better, it created a bona-fide Foolish community where honesty, optimism, teamwork, and innovation thrived. That’s right, pretty soon we noticed that people were identifying themselves as Fools — just like us.

A movement had begun, and now, years later, that movement has made it all the way to Australia. Let the fun begin.

And now, a hot penny share…

 

BUY iGold Mining (WA) Ltd NOW!!!

Just kidding!

We hope that we’ve made a strong case for Foolishness — and that you’re ready to join us on a journey to financial freedom.

Like you, we’re in this for the long haul. So let’s have a blast every step of the way.

Without further ado, let’s get smarter, make money, and have some fun, Fool!

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