Fribble Thursday, December 23, 1999

An Open Letter of Thanks to Fools

By Dennis

I've been thinking for some time about writing an open letter to the Gardner brothers and the rest of The Motley Fool community to thank everyone for helping to educate me about investing in a way that is enabling me to pursue what for me is a truly meaningful life. Having recently read Bill Mann's heartfelt commentary in the aftermath of the Texas A&M tragedy last month now feels like a good time to share my gratitude.

I begin this as I wait to fly standby on a flight that will hopefully take me from La Guardia to my home in the Midwest, and get me there a few hours earlier than originally scheduled so I can play with my daughters before tucking them in for the night. It's a situation I have found myself in more times than I care to think about during the past few years, but thankfully it appears that after next week I won't have to do it again anytime soon.

A few months ago I announced my resignation as a senior executive at a major entertainment company and a successor has been finally hired. I resigned so I can stay home and be with my wife and kids, and "work" at something I am truly passionate about -- writing stories that inspire others to recognize their own unique potential as human beings.

Like Bill Mann, I've been keenly aware that life is precious and short. Having been a bachelor until the age of 38, four years ago a remarkable woman came into my office, and a short time later I had a wife and two daughters and was living a two-hour plane ride from my office. In the last 18 months we've added two more daughters to the mix.

Even though the company I have been working for has been extraordinarily accommodating of my desire to spend as much time at home as possible, the demands of the job have required me to commute to New York at least a few days each week for the past three years. While others can live that kind of life indefinitely without regret, I'm a person who would rather be with my family than hanging out in airports (or anywhere else for that matter).

I could no longer rationalize that helping other people getting their name in the paper (and, yes, earning a nice wage doing it) was worth missing moments in the middle of the week when my kids' lives would be richer if their Dad was around to share them. It has caught my attention often that in profiles of high-powered business people they invariably cite their family as their top priority. I can't help questioning how that can be when it is obvious that their job requires them to spend most of their life on the road and away from their "number one priority."

Happily, I'm in a position to proactively choose to be at home because I discovered The Motley Fool back in 1997 when I was checking out AOL's most popular sites. While I have not contributed much in the way of commentary to the community, I read contributions from others daily and have enjoyed each of the Gardner's Motley Fool books. Using these insights, my wife and I have established an investment portfolio that we're comfortable with. Since using Foolish principles, our net worth has soared beyond our wildest expectations, and I am now able to make a life choice for the overall good of our entire family.

Thank you all for making this possible. Without the generosity of everyone who leads this community of intelligence (most of the time) and wit, we'd still be holding underperforming mutual funds and thinking success in the market is an insider's game. Trust me, I am living proof that you don't need to be a genius to make sound investment decisions. The Motley Fool has given me the confidence to know we can manage our own money. It's also made it possible for me to hug my kids more often and do things I'm truly passionate about without sacrificing a great deal. Any sacrifice would clearly be worth the more meaningful life I'm about to enjoy, but thanks to my fellow Fools it's not an issue.

As repayment for all of the effort and insight I've benefited from in learning to be a Fool, I'm hoping to pass some of it on to my kids so they can more intelligently contribute to the world community in their own way. I'm also committed to writing stories that can enrich people's lives emotionally and intellectually, if not financially. And maybe provide a few laughs along the way. Seems pretty Foolish to me.