In this podcast, Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner talks about topics including:
- Reaching past peak polarization
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David Gardner: Every once in a blue moon, or a new moon, or an old moon, or a borrowed moon, I queue up a hodgepodge of points that I want to share. They’re not really related to each other. A hodgepodge. But I forced them to fit into this mold: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. You probably know the expression, don’t you? It’s what brides traditionally are supposed to wear on their wedding day for good luck: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.
While I won’t be providing this in this podcast, you’re also supposed to have a silver sixpence in your shoe. Now, if you want to look at a dime or a quarter, slip it into your shoe for this week’s podcast, I think you might even have better luck.
Anyway, it’s time to crank up this once-a-year-or-so episodic series, Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue. We’re going to talk about Tesla, holiday gifts, capitalism, and something blue, too, to start 2023. Happy new year. Only on this week’s Rule Breaker Investing.
Welcome back to Rule Breaker Investing. I hope I’m not the first one to say this to you: happy new year. Well, Rick and I had a lot of fun prerecording our final two podcasts of last year. Thinking in particular of last week’s Rule Breaker Investing Mailbag, the final point at the end of that one. If you didn’t get a chance, you might be amused by the last few minutes of last week’s podcast, but that was then, it was a year ago now, and this is now. We’re, in my case, back from Barcelona and back in my study doing this podcast, which is more typical for us, the day before it actually goes out. Happy January.
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. That’s the format I’m using this week. Just to briefly explain each of those.
Something old is typically a framework I’ve talked about in the past or a quote that I love or a story I’ve told. Something old. Something new, well, that’ll be something — squirrel — something flashy, shiny, just jumped up in front of me, something that seems worthy of calling out.
Something borrowed, that’s never hard. There’s so many brilliant writers, thinkers, investors. There are so many wonderful things to borrow these days. I’m thinking this week in particular of an author who appeared a few years ago, sharing a great framework, I want to borrow and reshare with you again.
Then finally, something blue. Well, in years past for this one, I’ve talked everything from University of North Carolina basketball and Duke and Kentucky, all of whom wear blue, to the loss of celebration, which made me blue during COVID thinking about all those graduations that never happened. Something blue often is a little bit of a reminiscence, sometimes a little bit of a downer. I don’t think it is this time, but understandably, hey, it’s something blue.
I’d say without further ado, let’s get started with something old.
Well, as I looked back over the course of this series, I noted, I first started it in April of 2017. It was April 5th, 2017. We called it Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue. We didn’t call at Volume 1 because Rick, who generally picks the titles for our podcasts, couldn’t have known that I decided I liked it enough that I would want to repeat it about once each year since then. Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue appeared on April 5th of 2017.
Here was the new back then, about six years ago. The new that I was highlighting that week is that Tesla and its market cap had just, for the first time, exceeded the market cap of Ford Motors, ticker symbol F. TSLA greater than sign F as a market cap for the first time in history.
This is quite interesting in light of Tesla’s recent movements. I think a lot of people listening to me right now at least know of Tesla, but many of you probably, like me, own some Tesla shares. I have owned the stock since 2011. That was when we first recommended it in Motley Fool Rule Breakers, a position that has now been held for 11-plus years. The day that we are recording, Tesla has lost another $15 to $108.10, where it closed this day of Tuesday, January 3rd. Again, it was the first in this series, the first episode, Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue, when I was celebrating and thinking forward about what it meant that Tesla was now bigger than Ford.
I want to pull one other page from the past as we stick here with something old. I was looking back over old transcripts from our Motley Fool radio show. At one point, we had Max Baer Junior on the Motley Fool radio show. Now raise your hand, although if you’re driving, keep your hands on the wheel. Raise your hand if you know who Max Baer Junior, is. And oh my gosh, I see some of you do have your hands up, but many do not. It’s understandable, because The Beverly Hillbillies show isn’t a big thing in the year 2023. But when I was growing up, a lot of people watched The Beverly Hillbillies, and it was one of the most-watched shows, some of its episodes of all time during its time.
Max Baer Junior played the character of Jethro. Now, I’m not going to reexplain who Jethro is or what was actually going on with that show. Feel free to check it out on Wikipedia if you don’t know anything about The Beverly Hillbillies. But Max Baer Junior came on the Motley Fool radio show as an older man reflecting back. He said this, he said, “I’ve been a has-been, a once-was, a used-to-be. But Jethro,” said Max Baer Junior, “will always be and is.”
In fact, I use that quote in a Great Quotes, it was Volume 6 some years ago reflecting on it, which I will do briefly with you now, which is what I love about that quote, was the humility is implicit. We can all admire that. But what I love about it is I think this speaks to Trait No. 3 that I look for in Rule Breakers stocks and always have. That’s basically a powerful brand. I think we’re going to do much better as stock pickers, as investors, and livers of life if we focus not on the has beens or once wases or used to bes but on the things that are.
In fact on Twitter, I tweeted out this week inviting anybody to share companies that they think represent powerful brands that like Jethro will always be and is. I saw some great and understandable lists of stocks; Disney, Apple, Amazon, Starbucks, Netflix. A few of you said Tesla, which brings me back to my main point. I do indeed agree that Tesla deserves to be on that Mount Rushmore of present-day ises.
Now Tesla has not been around nearly as long as most of the rest of those companies. In fact, this day that we are recording this podcast, which is January 3rd of 2023, this day in history in 1977 was the day that Apple was incorporated. Tesla is clearly not as old as Apple, and Apple isn’t nearly as old as Disney. But if we focus our stock picking and a lot of our attention in life on what is, not what once was or has been, I think we’re going to do better as investors.
I’m going to say in a sec how Tesla has done since the week it passed Ford, April of 2017. But first, let’s look a little bit more recently. Three years ago this month, we had a fun exchange on Twitter. Austin Lieberman, my longtime Fool friend was saying, David, it’s really important that people know the true investing journey of Tesla and Tesla in Motley Fool Rule Breakers.
I’ll say it again. I mentioned earlier we recommended it first in 2011. It went up about 6 times in value over those next two years, which was amazing. Six-bagger in just two years from our initial recommendation, 2011, ’12, ’13. But then for five long years, the stock went sideways. It went up sometimes and then down others. It had no creation of value, zero percent return, basically from 2013 to 2018.
Now the stock market, by the way, had a great five-year return during those five years. I think we can all remember that. If you’re judging Tesla over those five years, you were like, what’s up with this? The stock market had gone steadily up 2013 to ’18. Tesla, in its early golden age, is a company shipping some great product with a well-known CEO and a formerly high riser of a stock, went sideways for five long years.
Now if you look back just over the last three years, how has Tesla done? Three years ago this month, it was at $40. At the start of last year, it was at $400, a 10-bagger over the course of about a year and a half. As of market close today, Tuesday, January 3rd, it’s down to $108 from $400 at the start of last year. It has been extremely volatile.
But I want to go back to the original Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue point. Tesla, over these approximately six years, is up 6 times in value overall. The market is only up about 40% to 50% over the last six years. Ford Motors is up 0% over the last four years. Tesla’s market cap six years ago was at $47 billion, and some people thought that’s crazy. It’s now worth more than Ford. Well, even after decline to $108 from $400, it’s lost more than two-thirds of its value over the last year or so. The market cap is still $338 billion today.
Now, I realize some will hear that and say, well, it still has a lot of room to fall. After all, it’s bigger than Ford, Plus General Motors, etc. You’ll hear people say that. But what I want to remind you is that this company is doing something very important, very much for real standing shoulder to shoulder, I think, with some of those other companies, I’m not saying it’ll ever be as big or successful over the long-term as Disney.
But if you think about companies that are ises, we speak today as Tesla didn’t quite ship as many cars as it thought it would last quarter, but in fact, shipped a lot of electric cars. Have you noticed that every other brand worldwide now has its electric vehicle? I’ve noticed that too. I think that Tesla is a is and is worth considering here at just over $100 a share as we start 2023.
Before I move on to something new, am I a huge Elon fanboy? Not particularly. I admire Elon Musk. I would continue to invest in him and alongside him over the course of my life, the next 10-plus years as I have the previous but some of his behavior and I would say his failure in some cases to build trust at real scale is slightly troubling. I don’t think, though, Elon has=been a once-was or a used-to-be. I think he’s an is, and I think Tesla is too, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t close this point, mentioning that while I continue to favor Tesla — and yes, I’m a shareholder — I also would never spend too much time on any one stock. The reason I stay diversified, I hope you do too, is not to be too beholden, or rolling the dice as it were on just one or two investments. It’s the stay broadly diversified in the best companies of your time. Yeah, I think that Tesla is one of those.
On to something new. Well, this is only about a month old, but I’m going to move away from investing briefly and just talk about cool stuff. A number of the things I’m about to list for you, I’ve already spoken to this podcast over the last three to six months because they’re new things that I came across and thought were awesome. In fact, as I look back on five previous episodes of Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue, in a few of them I took new to mean, what are some new things I’m reading or using or enjoying that I’d like to share out because I think you might too?
For some of my close friends over the course of this past holiday month of gift-giving, I just made out a list of six things. In fact, I believe Rick Engdahl, my dear producer, is one of those who received my list, and I just invited my gift recipient to pick their favorite off of a menu of things that I think are awesome.
Rather than just share it with a few close or business friends, I thought I’d just share that list right here with you in case you’re still looking for something great, maybe returning something not so great for one of these great things are done. I know some of you have birthdays proximate to Christmas. Happy birthday, January 4thers.
Here’s some ideas. Here it was, my list of six alphabetically listed products or services that I love that I think are awesome that I’m just going to put out there right now in Something New.
The first one is kombucha, and a particular brand of kombucha. Now, kombucha is very healthy for the stomach. It’s basically fermented tea. It comes in different flavors. I often like the ginger or ginger-lemon versions. It’s a lot healthier than many of the other things that I drink. In fact, it’s probably among the most healthy things I drink. Asterisk, because No. 4 on my list of sixth-grade gifts coming up is another thing that I enjoy drinking, but kombucha is worth looking into.
Many of you, I know, already discovered this drink years ago and have loved it for a long time so I’m a little bit of a Johnny-come-lately, but I also suspect, especially in America, many people still don’t really know what this is or have used it.
I particularly like the Better Booch brand of kombucha because it’s produced by a friend of mine, and that would be Trey Lockerbie, who’s one of the hosts of the Investors podcast. I appeared just a month ago on Trey’s podcast most recently, if you want to hear too much Rule Breaker Investing. If this weekly podcast isn’t enough for you, you might enjoy my appearance on Trey’s podcast.
But Trey, in addition to being a talented and thoughtful podcast host and investor, is also an entrepreneur. Better Booch can be ordered off of Amazon. It’ll be packaged up with refrigerating insulation, probably, as it gets shipped to you wherever you are. Better Booch kombucha, my favorite brand of kombucha.
Gift item No. 2, is Building a Second Brain. It’s by Tiago Forte and this is my favorite book of last year. I’ve already spoken to it recently on this podcast. But if you find yourself trying to figure out how to organize your digital life, like you have all of these notes over in this one application, but you have stuff in Dropbox over there and then you’ve got your file folders on your hard drive and you’re trying to figure out where to store some of the emails, or what about your to-dos? How do you get your arms around all of the digital stuff in your life?
Well, Building a Second Brain, for me, anyway, has been huge and I really revamped and greatly enhanced my productivity just in the last couple of months. Since finishing the book, I find myself reading it and allowed to my wife over supper so she can learn it, to sharing that with friends. Hope to have the author on the podcast this year. Really love Building a Second Brain.
My third product up for grabs that I love is Duolingo. If you probably have already used this app in the past, it helps you learn languages. It gamifies the learning of foreign languages. It’s a public company these days as well. At our Motley Fool holiday party that we had with our employees in Alexandria, Virginia, last month, I had a great conversation with a couple of people I had seen and used Duolingo a little bit over the years. If we’re traveling to Austria a week before I’d signed into Duolingo and learn a few phrases or lines in German.
But I ask these fellow Fools, hey, how deep does this app really go? I’m treating it as an arcade game and a brief dalliance before trips. I was assured by my Fool friends that Duolingo goes very deep. My friend Yasser El-Shimy, who’s been on this podcast before, who is using it, I think, right now to learn Italian, he has a 318-day streak or so of signing into the app every day and learning. And having used it quite extensively myself over the last couple of months, I can see how much fun it is, how gamified it is, how well done it is, and it really is a wonderful way to learn a language.
Now you’re going to be hit silly with ads if you stick with a free version. Every minute or two, you’re going to have to sit through a 15-second ad, in my experience. I would highly recommend just paying up, as I hope you would for a Motley Fool service, paying up for the premium, not the free version, in this case, Super Duolingo. Gift item No. 3.
Now gift item No. 4, I’ve also spoken to on this podcast I mentioned earlier my enjoyment of kombucha. I’ve also really been getting into H2O. Still water, good filtered water, just drinking water. We’re told to hydrate. I never really knew how much I should be hydrating until I bought the HidrateSpark PRO Smart Water bottle. All of a sudden, I discovered that there’s this device that you can buy it an Apple store, order over Amazon. As you take a sip from this water bottle, the big brain chip in the bottom of the bottle is precisely measuring…
Let’s say you just drank 1.3 ounces from the bottle. It might be a 17-ounce bottle or 24-ounce bottle. You can get it in steel or plastic and in different colors. But the whole key is really the app attached to it. On your smartphone, you download the app, and you’re able to track how much you’re hydrating yourself. But not just that, you’re able to invite friends in, give them a bottle, have them join in. It becomes a social little network, at least it has with my friends, where we see who’s hydrated themselves most or first on any given day. Kind of like Duolingo, you can put together daily streaks.
It has completely gamified, in the same way Duolingo has gamified and made fun learning a foreign language, HidrateSpark PRO has done so for water. There’s a study out this week that shows over 30 years the importance and power of regularly hydrating, the benefits of that. I think this is a home-run gift and it sure was for some of my friends under the tree in the past month.
Gift item No. 5 of 6 is the Nixplay 8-inch Smart Photo Frame. I started looking around my house, and I determined that we had framed photographs sitting, let’s say, on a living room table or the bureau just outside my study. We had the same photos, just sitting in the same frames and often camping out together like blocking each other. The little picture in back was just never seen because we wouldn’t move anything on that table for years. I started thinking, can’t we make this smarter and more fun in the same way that the HidrateSpark PRO Smart Water bottle makes water more fun? Could we make our photos more fun?
I know many of you are already familiar with this concept of a smart photo frame. Like, it changes the picture inside it every 30 seconds or every 5 minutes or half-hour or whatever you want it to be. But the key and the reason I really have enjoyed the Nixplay Smart Photo Frame is that with this product, you can actually network it with other smart photo frames.
For example, your grandparents, who might live 500 miles away and your two kids from college, who are both up somewhere in the Northeast, they can all be networked to the same photo frame. If they have that frame wherever they are, you each could load in pictures and have each other see each other’s pictures. You’re basically growing a shared photo album of ever-changing pictures just in the one frame, not the 18 photograph frames that are taking up the whole table but just the one frame, a big and beautiful landscape or portrait orientation. Networking our photos, sharing out with friends and family, saving a lot of space, which keys into the dematerialization trend that Kevin Kelly from WIRED Magazine, in his book, The Inevitable. I’m hoping to have Kevin back on the podcast this year. He has spoken to this in the past. The dematerialization, i.e., hardware that we used to have, is disappearing and replaced by software in many cases and makes our world much more sustainable as well. I really love the Nixplay photo frames.
The final sixth in my bulleted gift list for you, something new. Again, something else I’ve spoken to in recent months, Readwise. I think I spoke to this on the Mailbag last week. I talked about it throughout the fall, ever since my friends Kara Chambers and Rex Moore said, hey, you really should use Readwise. You should upload all your highlights from a digital book, like Kindle books or Apple books. You should upload all of those, and then Readwise will hold those for you. You now have a searchable library of all of your highlights from all of your books.
But it also creates a short daily email, firing you back by email the quotes that you’ve highlighted from books you’ve forgot about eight years ago, etc. I’ve already spoken to this recently on the podcast. I won’t belabor it now, but there is something else new.
Take it all together. Better Booch kombucha, Building a Second Brain, the book, Super Duolingo, the HidrateSpark PRO Smart Water bottle, the Nixplay Smart Photo Frames, and Readwise. Those were a few of my favorite things from 2022. Still feels very new for 2023.
Well, before we move on to Something Borrowed, I can imagine somebody might be wondering, is Dave just plugging products like an influencer on his podcast? Is he getting any kickbacks for any? The answer is, sadly, no. Dave receives no kickbacks for any of these things. I am simply an enthusiast for great things that come across in life. If you think about our Mailbag every month on this podcast, you are often sharing great thoughts with me, and I simply share them back out out of pure enthusiasm. That’s all that’s behind my six-gift list.
By the way, if there is an awesome seventh or eighth thing that I should have as we start 2023, if there’s something amazing that I’m missing, our email address is [email protected] I would love to hear. If you’re a cool hunter and you’ve found something cool, let me know. I would love to hear about it in this month’s Mailbag to improve my life and maybe those of many others. Thank you.
Next, on to Something Borrowed. Well, I’m thinking back to my friend Jay Jakub, who came on this podcast in August of 2020. The title that week is Authors in August: Jay Jakub Helps Us Complete Capitalism. Jay, along with his friend and business partner Bruno Roche, have written a wonderful book called Completing Capitalism. In that book, there’s a wonderful framework that I want to share with you in brief right now. Again, if you’ve already heard that podcast or read the book, great, please give yourself five gold stars. But for many others, you’re probably hearing about this for the first time.
The Completing Capitalism framework began when Mars — yap, chocolatier, the global, these days, pet food company, about as big a business as sweets and candies for Mars — hat company. The longtime family leadership of that company asked a compelling question, what is the right level of profit for our business? Jay Jakub who was working at Mars within an internal think tank, was tasked with answering that question. What is the right level of profit for this business?
Now most people would think, I think, or answer, there is no right level. The simple answer would be more, more, more. But that often leads to unsustainable practices as businesses start to pinch their suppliers or cut corners with their customers or not treat their employees so well trying to maximize profit.
Well, a company of Mars’s vintage, 100 years old and of incredible size and growth, is probably better positioned than most to ask a beautiful question like that, what is the right level of profit for our company? The leadership at Mars wanted to be profitable — who doesn’t? — but not in a way that creates short-term problems or ultimate unsustainability. And so Jay and his team went to work trying to answer that question. Out of that came the work detailed in Completing Capitalism.
The two key insights that I take away from that book I want to share with you now. The first is that there are actually four forms of capital. When we start talking about capitalism, most people are just talking about financial capital. They’re thinking about money. Money, after all, is easy to measure. It’s easy to produce. Sometimes it’s easy to lose as well. Many people, when they think about capitalism, small “c,” they’re just thinking about money and profits.
Yet Mars and Jay, in their work, and, I would say, Conscious Capitalism, whose board I sit on as well, many others recognize these days that that’s a little short-sighted. In fact, Jay would say there are four types of capital.
We’ll lead off with financial capital, that’s the one we all know, but there’s also human capital. That is how you’re treating the humans that are in your network, whether they’re your employees or your customers, but thinking in particular of those who produce for you, so your employees. That’s a very important type of capital as well.
Another is natural capital. How we’re treating the Earth. How we’re treating our neighborhoods or society, specifically thinking about the natural world. That’s a third important form of capital after financial and human.
The fourth and final one is social capital, which I find particularly compelling. Think about trust, which is sometimes synonymous with social capital. It’s one way to measure capital. Trust is so important in this world, and yes, it’s a key factor behind social capital.
Insight No. 1 that I hope you appreciate and will take away from this week’s podcast is there really are four types of capital, and yet Jay and his team have discovered and taught that they shouldn’t all be measured by converting back into dollars.
He was critical in that podcast a couple of years ago of so-called triple-bottom-line companies. A lot of people think triple bottom line is cool. You’re not just measuring your bottom line of profits, you’re also measuring how you treated the Earth or how you treated society. But the problem, Jay says, is most of the triple-bottom-line companies are just converting their other forms of capital — human capital, natural capital — they are just converting them back into dollars, back into financial capital which really misses some important points. In Completing Capitalism and on the podcast a couple of years ago, Jay shared the importance of measuring each of these four different types of capital with their own metrics, not just converting back to dollars.
The final key insight that I love about their framework, and that’s why I want to mention it again here a couple of years later, is that their studies show, if you improve any one of those four types of capital… Let’s say you’re an entrepreneur. If you treat your community better, social capital, create some trust, or if you treat the environment better, thinking of natural capital, their studies show that all three other forms of capital rise as well. If you do well according to one metric, it helps the other three. This is, to me, one of the best insights in recent years I’ve seen about capitalism.
To summarize: It’s not just financial, dear Fools. There’s capital all around us when you really reframe it. Second, by focusing on judging each of the four forms according to its own metrics, you’re going to do better at it, and doing better at any one of them will improve the other three. Completing Capitalism, a wonderful framework I’ve borrowed from Jay Jakub and Bruno Roche.
I should mention before proceeding on the phrase they use to describe their framework as “the economics of mutuality.” Anybody who’s interested and would like to learn more about it, just Google “economics of mutuality,” and you will learn more. I also of course, highly recommend the book Completing Capitalism. Or if you just want the Cliff Notes in audio form, I guess you could just listen to my one-hour interview with Jay from a couple of years ago, but I highly recommend their book.
All right. Something old, something new, something borrowed, and now something blue. Part of the reason I enjoy this episodic series is that Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue enables me to revisit, I’ve been doing that this week, key cardinal points and conversations from the past. I guess this final point is no exception.
A few times over the years, I’ve referenced blue in the context of the humorous invention of Charles Dickens, the novelist. His first novel, The Pickwick Papers, presents us many comic, picaresque moments as Samuel Pickwick, the protagonist, along with his manservant, Sam Weller, have adventures around the English countryside, which then get variously reported back to the Pickwick Club, which is the overall structure and rhythm of the novel: two fellows having adventures and coming back and sharing with their friends at their club. Sometimes that makes me think of this podcast.
Anyway, at one point, they wander into a town that is extremely politically divided. It’s the town of Eatanswill, and there are two parties that have divided up the town into a polarized set of bars, a polarized couple of newspapers, even church pews. The whole town is divided up into two parts, the Buffs and the Blues. Something blue.
From time to time on this podcast over the years I’ve mentioned my lack of political interests, my independent nature, my nonaffiliation with any political party.
At my happiest, I can laugh along with Pickwick and Dickens and maybe the rest of you about how an area can be so divided up. In the novel, of course, between the Buffs and the Blues, so divided that they go to different bars. They read different newspapers, and they sit in the same church in different church pews. I guess that’s at my happiest about this, when I can just laugh at the satire.
But at my saddest and most blue, I rule that people have been tribing up in our world today. In the U.S., people talk, I don’t, of red and, there it is again, blue. At the heart of so much of this dialogue, I think there’s blame. What’s happening is just constant, and the media trumpets this blame, blame of the other side. If you’re a Blue, you’re blaming the Buffs. If you’re a Buff, you’re blaming the Blues.
But rather than be too blue about this on my Something Blue point, I thought I would start by suggesting that rather than saying we’re constantly divided, that’s a a tired cliche at this point. For me anyway. America is so divided, red and blue. I’m thinking to suggest that maybe, just maybe, we’ve hit at or near the extreme. Maybe we’re about as polarized as we’re going to get. I hope this isn’t too preposterous.
Imagine if a public that is tired of blame and today holds Congress at its lowest approval of all time, imagine if that same people, you and me, began to reward new leadership. Leadership that didn’t first and foremost and mechanically and constantly blame the other side. Could this actually happen? Could that actually happen in politics? Could the Blues and the Buffs be civil?
Well, the reason I think they can is because of how odd and inappropriate this blaming behavior is in the other realms that we frequent, you and me, over the course of our lives. I’ll give you two I know really well. Take sports. Imagine if in American football, a team lost, and all of the offensive players, in the postgame media interviews, blamed their defense in public. In fact, imagine if the leadership of that team, everyone on the offense, said it was the defense’s fault, and imagine if everyone on the defense said it was the offense’s fault.
Then not only does that sound juvenile and never really happens, but if it were to happen, it would be clearly an example of a failed team. The team that’s not going to do so well going forward, the team you probably don’t want to be on or follow when the offense is the Blues and the defense is the Buffs. That’s the way the leaders are behaving. But behavior in sports, which is certainly not always perfect on its own, is nevertheless, I would say, a wide margin ahead of politics. And yet I think our public discourse can actually get there.
And think of a second instance, a second context in closing. I’m going to go now from sports to business. How many CEOs do you actually see just blaming, just trash-talking one of their own divisions or actively trash-talking their competitors? I would say not that many. I can think of very few CEOs that would spend a lot of time throwing shade at any aspect, toxically, of their own company or really of others in their industry.
Political ads these days, I think we’re used to seeing blame and attack of the competitor. You never really see for-profit companies advertising, whether it’s the Super Bowl or whatever non-ad-free streaming show you watched yesterday, you really don’t see companies advertising simply to attack their competitors. I would say any CEO who does that probably wouldn’t be CEO for much longer. Would they?
In fact, I’ve said this once before, the closest I can think of that ever happening in the business world is when there’s a bad merger. Sometimes you’ll hear people say, those people over at HP, they don’t know what they’re doing. We here at Compaq, even though we’re now the same company, think differently. You sometimes hear that. Those are always dysfunctional, or those are the companies that don’t do so well.
I truly believe we cannot keep compartmentalizing public discourse in its own odd-shaped and unattractive box. We just can’t sustain that. I actually think a lot of the divisiveness is overdone. It’s exhausting. It’s more played out than people realize. I think, I hope anyway, but I really do think that a lot of today’s politics, the Buffs and the Blues, are eating each other, feeding on themselves, losing relevance to most of the rest of us.
I think you and I are after true solutions, true connections, working together with others, like we were taught in kindergarten. Even people who don’t look like us or think like us or even agree with us. I see it every day working in many contexts outside politics. I think politics is at the point where it’s going to be shaped by new people and a new wind blowing over our culture. I think it’s a warm wind. Not like a lot of us in the U.S. have suffered over the last few weeks, a cold winter wind, and so is something blue.
I’m here to say at the end of ’22, the start of something new ’23, that blame isn’t generative. It’s not productive. I don’t care whether you’re red or buff or blue. Instead, the good and productive forces in our society, I think, will increasingly take us higher and forward. It’s a thought. Maybe I’m just playing the fool.
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Thanks for spending some time with me at the start of the New Year. I’ll talk to you next week. Fool on.
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“Rule Breaker Investing”: Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue | The Motley Fool
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