The Week in Review -- October 1, 1999

The Markets

  9/24 Close 10/1 Close Change %Change
DJIA 10,279.33 10,273.00 -6.33 -0.06
S&P 500 1,280.77 1,282.81 +2.04 +0.16
Nasdaq 2,740.40 2,736.85 -3.55 -0.13

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The Conversation
by Jerry Thomas (TMF Cheeze)

Greetings, Fools.

Monday's Rule Breaker report by Jeff Fischer (TMF Jeff) is titled "Investors Writing for Investors." I like that, and I'll tell you why in a minute. Read the piece and you will find a pretty good description of Jeff's life as a Foolish portfolio manager. It's a life filled with deadlines, obligations, appointments, priorities, and commitments. Jeff is a busy Fool, and he admits that often his portfolio duties take a back seat to some of the other responsibilities in his life. In fact, Jeff's schedule, with all of its hectic responsibilities, might remind you a bit of your own. And that's sort of the point.

There is nothing heroic about the level of work required to manage the Rule Breaker portfolio. There is nothing to managing any of our online portfolios that is so complicated or demanding that you could not do it by yourself, in your spare time, at your kitchen table. The only essential difference between our portfolios and one you could tend to on your own is that ours happen to be managed in public. You've heard the phrase "Don't try this at home"? Well, it doesn't apply here. This is one game you can and should play on your own.

But let's get back to that thought about Investors Writing for Investors. Turn your attention to Tuesday's Fool on the Hill commentary by Warren Gump (TMF Gump). "One of my biggest holdings warned," laments Warren. The company in question, Consolidated Products (NYSE: COP), owner of a chain of steak restaurants headquartered in Indiana, announced this week that it will not meet its expected earnings for the next quarter and that it is scaling back plans for future growth. Ouch. The development, understandably, leaves Warren feeling a bit dejected. So how do you, as an investor, react when a surprise event materially alters the known facts about a company you own? Warren's discussion of Consolidated Products is the very model of the way an investor should react: He asks the questions that should be asked, and brings to focus the important factors that really matter to his investment.

In other words, Warren gives us an investor's perspective on investing. When he writes, and you read, it is the frank and simple act of one investor speaking to another. If you will forgive my enthusiasm, I don't know anywhere else you are going to find that perspective as readily as you will at The Motley Fool. It's an attitude that pervades all we do, and is in fact what we are by definition: a community of investors engaged in deep conversation with each other about investing.

On our website we have a feature called Post of the Day. Here we spotlight some of the stand-out contributions made by the thousands of investors who contribute their observations to our message boards every day. This week brings us a pretty good sampling:

� On Monday, "AlphaWolf," posting on our Dell Computer (Nasdaq: Dell) board, gives us his perspective on holding stocks for the long term through some tough downturns.

� On Tuesday, in our Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) folder, "doitnow5" satirizes Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) President Steve Ballmer's recent statement that tech stocks, including his own company's, are "absurdly" overvalued.

� On Wednesday on the Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A) board, "AnandaFool" examines the fine art of investing with Buffett.

Again, each of these is an outstanding example of investors writing for investors. More than just an apt title Jeff happened to tack onto a portfolio report one day this week, it is really the single defining factor for what we do. It describes what The Motley Fool is. Check out this week's special, "When Fools Were fools." Here TMF staffers from every part of our company admit the mistakes they've made and the lessons they've learned while using and misusing the Nasty Plastic: Credit Cards. The feature represents that same willingness to share, that same pooling of experience and expertise that makes TMF what it is. It's a spirit we celebrate every day in Fooldom.

Call it The Great Conversation. Everywhere you go in Fooldom, you will find one Fool talking to another. In fact, The Motley Fool is nothing more and nothing less than one grand conversation of investors, a conversation where the participants number in the millions. Everything you see that we do -- the website, the books, the Radio Show, the newspaper column, even the polo shirts and baseball caps you can buy at FoolMart -- are all merely elements of that conversation. The conversation is not limited to our website or any of the formal media channels I've mentioned. It can take place anywhere, at any time, between any two Fools, whether the Fools at HQ or online know about it or not. If two people anywhere have joined in our spirit of sharing, that's Folly. It happens anywhere your Foolish heart will take you.

In other words, the next time you hear someone talking about money, or business, or investing, look around. Chances are good that you'll see someone wearing a jester cap nearby.

Until next week,
Fool on!



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