Wednesday, February 03, 1999

Fools on the Road

by Bob Bobala (TMF Bobala)

If you've never experienced the Fool road show, you should think about checking it out when it comes to a city near you. You never know what you're going to see.

From time to time, the Fool is out there at financial conferences sponsored by newspapers, investment clubs, book publishers, and the like. We set up our Motley booth in exhibit halls and plunk down Foolish trinkets both large and small from coast to coast.

Often it's an opportunity to pick up a Fool book (at discounted conference prices, no less), or listen to the Gardners speak (they look really freaky with their heads shown on big projection screens), or to just hobnob face to face with one of our writers (and tell them how clueless you think they are on your favorite stock) or another Fool staffer (geniuses that actually know how to breakdown a 10x20 ft. wall of Foolery and make it fit into two tiny canisters for transportation).

But even better than that is the possibility that you might just step right into Bizarro World. This past weekend, the Fool traveled just over the Potomac River to a personal finance conference sponsored by The Washington Post in Washington, DC. Tom and David delivered a keynote speech, and Saturday's Fool Radio Show was also broadcast live from the conference.

At one point, when I was passing out "I'm a Fool" buttons, someone approached me and asked if John Bogle could speak with the Gardners. I had to do a double take and make sure I hadn't slipped right out of reality. A few minutes later it got even worse, as I spied Mr. Bogle wearing a Fool ballcap as he spoke to Tom and David.

Absolutely surreal. Here was the venerable John C. Bogle, the founder of Vanguard, father of the index fund, the man behind the Vanguard Index Trust 500 (and all the other Vanguard funds), the man Fools are trying to beat, King Vanguard, yakking with the original Motley Fools, wondering when they're going to stop wearing those goofy jester hats while he's wearing a Fool ballcap himself.

I'm not making this up, and I didn't hear the whole conversation, so I can't elaborate on it or conjecture as to whether or not this lent any amount of legitimacy to this Ship of Fools within the Wise establishment. For all I know, the man was making veiled threats beneath that Fool cap, denouncing Amazon and AOL under his breath.

I can't offer anymore, Fools. It was the convergence of two weird worlds for me, and it rattled me almost as much as the presence of's Jim Cramer, who showed up at the booth an hour earlier. Talk about Fool Bizarro!

So if you ever have the chance to check out the Fool road show, do it. You won't be disappointed. In the coming months, The Motley Fool will make appearances in Sacramento (Feb. 6), Miami (March 6), Los Angeles, Dallas, and San Jose. And the Rule Breakers, Rule Makers book tour kicks off next week, so there should be plenty of opportunity to catch Tom and David on the circuit -- where anything goes at your local Borders or Barnes and Noble.

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