ALEXANDRIA, VA (Nov. 2, 1999) -- The Rule Breaker Portfolio fell well short of the market's return, Tuesday, dropping 1.82% in value.

But hey, I want to get away from our usual (and enjoyable to do) reporting on our stocks in particular or on investing or Rule Breaker investing in general, just to shake things up a bit. In fact, tonight's report consists of a single question. A simple question.

Why are you reading this?

That's just it.

Why are you reading this?

Oh, I don't mean this particular article at this particular moment. In a way I do, but not really. What I mean is this: If you're new to The Motley Fool, what brought you here? Or if you're a regular visitor and contributor to Fooldom, why do you make the Rule Breaker Portfolio recap a daily read?

"So what's this guy doing?" you wonder. What is this, a poll? "Click here to provide your answer"? Market research? Is he trying to find out more about me, in this Orwellian world we live in? No, I'm not. I'm not here to hear an answer at all. I'm merely here to ask the question, and to the extent you're interested in answering it for yourself, that's who the answer is for. Yourself.

Why are you reading this?

There are many reasons I can imagine, good and bad. Long-time Fools probably know some of the standard goods and bads, these among them:


  • want to learn more about investing
  • enjoy watching someone else trying to beat the market
  • appreciate the diverse viewpoints expressed within this single column every month
  • disagree with what you guys think but like to read your thoughts anyway
  • looking for a little more Foolishness in my life
  • am always looking for a new hot stock pick
  • do everything you guys say
  • I trade options and use other forms of leverage, and I like volatile stocks
  • I like to mock you on your message boards when you screw up
  • just want someone to tell me what I should do next
    What's interesting about the abridged lists above is that they run rather contrary to the way you'd think our business would or should run. "Am always looking for a new hot stock pick" is a magnet lots of businesses use as their primary way to lure new customers. You can see it in their marketing materials: "Joanie Zweig has made 140% in the past 5 years with her HOT STOCK PICKS!!!" That's the single compelling reason the business presents you or me to buy its product, the so-called "value proposition" (that's just biz speak for why exactly customers purchase products or services).

    Or take another one from the BAD list above: "Do everything you guys say." That's a goal that many organizations regard as their ultimate! Some people would die for that -- and in fact some occasionally do die because of it... participants in cults. But that reason listed in the "Bad" section above is yet another one you'd think to find most companies stick in the "Good."

    Now look on the other hand at the "Good." What a weird list. It's a bunch of things that can be loosely classified as "self-actualization," involving helping you to reach your full potential. Most of them have something to do with education, but an education that is active, participatory, dynamic, that attracts people with intellectual curiosity who are independent-minded... people who are often very successful and very accustomed to success because they have a track record of rolling up their own sleeves, taking their own risks, and learning from doing so.

    In short, these lists in their own way are directly opposite what is on offer from much of the rest of the financial services industry. The traditional financial service has tried to entice you with hot picks or with a comforting feeling of security ("We'll do it for you"), based on the notion that you NEED their help. You'll always NEED their help. What has been antithetical to the industry, and what is therefore threatening to it, is the notion that you can and should do stuff on your own. Why? Because then you won't need to pay much of anything to anyone, of course... and thus the ubiquitous financial middleman becomes irrelevant and vanishes.

    As you survey that list above, think about why you come here the other 364 days of the year when we're not asking the question with which I began tonight's report. Why are you reading this?

    Tomorrow night I'll return to my normal self and not ask out-of-the-box questions. In the meantime, please briefly consider two final thoughts. The first is that Washingtonian Magazine has included The Motley Fool as one of the 50 best places to work in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. In fact, you'll find our Foolish mug sitting atop a stack of other companies' mugs right on the cover. If you or your smartest, most interesting, most humorous, coolest pal is interested in joining the crusade, check into and apply today! The Motley Fool is hiring.

    And last, if you're not familiar with our Foolanthropy charity drive, where you help us pick the Foolish charities (!!!), click on over to it here.

    And stay Foolish.