The Simple Genius Behind My Favorite Investing Quotation of 2013

RIGHT AROUND THIS TIME LAST YEAR, I sat down for a wide-ranging interview with the co-founder and co-chairman of The Motley Fool, David Gardner.

As I was recently thinking about my 2014 new year's resolutions, something David said in our interview stood out -- something I'm aiming to incorporate in my investment approach in the coming years.

"I don't really enjoy investment books"
At one point during our hour-long chat, I asked David about his favorite investment thinkers.

I figured he'd name a few of the giants -- Graham, Fisher, Lynch, Buffett -- with one or two surprises mixed in. But David -- who, it's important to note, has one of the most impressive public investment track records I've seen -- threw me a curveball:

I think I've only read two or three investment books in my life. I don't really enjoy investment books that much. I read a lot of business books and I think a lot about business -- because that's what I'm buying. [Note: You can watch the video of our conversation here.]

The more I thought about that, the more I liked it. As investors, we are part-owners of a company. We own a "share" of that company's future earnings stream. And too often, we fixate on quantitative metrics at the expense of thinking about the underlying business. (That's why one of my favorite exercises is to literally illustrate the business model of my holdings.)

In fact, that most famous of Lynchisms, "Buy what you know," resonates for me precisely because if you know a business, you're more likely to want to read about it (the company itself, competitors, technologies, the overall industry) on a long-term basis.

For me, that's why I'm less likely to be successful in, say, biotech investing than in other industries.

Resolutions
As a self-described business-focused investor, I resolve to think more about businesses than about "the stock market" in the year ahead. I could use your help. Have you read any great "business" books? I'd appreciate recommendations in the comments section at the bottom of this article.

David Gardner's favorite stock for 2014
Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner is really excited about one un-hyped stock that could soar higher than Twitter in the years to come. To learn more about David's favorite stock, click here.

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  • Report this Comment On January 22, 2014, at 3:06 AM, BigMofromChicago wrote:

    Brian:

    Although I'll bet it's now been approximately a quarter century since it was first published, Sam Walton, of storied Wal-Mart fame, penned what I seem to recall what he titled "Made in America", the defintive business autobiography of the formation and rise of, without question, the greatest retail powerhouse in the history of our country.

    Coming from an educational background at Indiana University (B.S.), then the University of Chicago (M.B.A.), I had enough business-theoretical crap-ola shoved down my throat to last for 23 lifetimes. When I read Sam's book in my mid-30s at the time, I was blown away by his abject hoesty, simplicity, and straightforwardness. But more than anything, what most impressed me was his inherent sent of employee-centrc leadership . . . and, if I may say so . . . even more . . . his quiet, relentless drive to build Wal-Mart into the retail juggernaut that it's become.

    I would encourage interested readers of yours to find a copy of "Made in America." While it's no longer a current publication, certain writings wll NEVER go out of style. It's easily as relevant now as it was then. - Jim Mohar, Cary, North Carolina

  • Report this Comment On January 22, 2014, at 11:32 AM, TMFBrich wrote:

    Jim,

    Excellent -- thanks for the recommendation! I've not read "Made in America," but a few Fools have (and are fans). I'll add it to my reading list. Much appreciated.

    Fool on,

    Brian

  • Report this Comment On January 23, 2014, at 4:18 PM, funkyduane wrote:

    The Three Laws of Performance

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