Tuesday, January 26, 1999

Eavesdropping Into Foolishness

by Shoma Aditya

As a 26-year old investor, people have often been surprised to hear that I've been investing since I was 22. Granted, I started out with an index fund instead of stocks, but even I'm surprised that I ended up investing so early.

But it's not my fault. You can blame David and Tom Gardner for that.

Now, I've never met either of them or had a conversation with them. I can't even say, "I stumbled onto their AOL site and it changed my life forever!" Still, they are directly responsible for my interest in investing.

I graduated from college with a degree in biology, and decided to pursue a career in neurobiological research. I was going to cure Alzheimer's. So I took a job as a research assistant, but I quit after a few months since I decided that working with rats just didn't appeal to me anymore. I wasn't sure exactly what I was going to do, but in the meantime, I still needed to pay the bills. So, I got myself a job as a bookseller at Waterstone's.

Waterstone's, like other bookstores, often had author signings. Shortly after I started working there in 1995, announcements were sent out that David and Tom Gardner would be in the store to promote their first book, "The Motley Fool Investment Guide." I wasn't particularly interested in investing -- it just seemed like something for business people, so I didn't really pay too much attention to the earlier announcements.

On the day that David and Tom came in to sign their books, I was busy stocking bookshelves near their signing table, but I could overhear what they were saying -- and they were really very funny! I'd never known stockbrokers to be this funny (see, I had no idea who they were, I just assumed they were "in the business"), so even though I was supposed to be working, I just had to see who they were.

I peeked around the bookshelf to get a look at them and my eyes just about popped out of their sockets. I couldn't believe it... They were wearing jester caps! I ducked behind the bookshelf and started laughing out loud (I don't know if they heard me, but some customers looked at me as if I'd gone insane). They looked so silly! Shirt, tie, dress pants, and jester caps! Were these guys for real? Who could take these guys seriously as investors? And who were these guys anyway? So... I picked up their book.

Two weeks later, I plunked some money into an Index fund.

The rest, as they say, is history -- just from getting a chuckle from two guys in jester caps. My thanks go to David and Tom Gardner for sparking my interest in investing (and for a good laugh).

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