This evening, a tale.

The story is of the business your next door neighbor founded: Snack Daddy Inc. (Ticker: CHUB), a nationwide provider of salty, sugary, sweaty, buttery consumables. By providing 22 times the recommended daily allowance of saturated fat and refined sugar, Snack Daddy Inc. has attracted a psychograph of sports-loving, suburban, baby-boomer dads that effortlessly want to feel good about themselves.

The company has registered the following trademarks:

Sugar Daddy LITE
Cheez-Daddy Doodles LITE
Jerki Pops LITE
Bac'n Puddin' LITE
Choco-monster LITE

To expand, your neighbor's business went out and raised $12 million of venture capital from three separate investors. He then hired marketing experts away from 7-Eleven (Nasdaq: SVEV) and Hardees; financial managers from Cendant (NYSE: CD) and Sunbeam (NYSE: SOC); and technology visionaries (Snack Daddy has to be digital) from Silicon Graphics (NYSE: SGI) and General Magic (Nasdaq: GMGC). Together, they all refined the economic model and mapped a commercial course for the year ahead.

Lo and behold, three months ago your neighbor took his company public. And the investing community embraced the Snack Daddy concept. Underwriters guided their brokers to pound the phones. The firm's analysts came out with strong buys (imagine that!). USA Today ran a full-page spread on the Snack Daddy team, complete with a photo of company executives uncorking champagne and dunking Cheez-Daddy Doodles LITE into tubs of Bac'n Puddin' LITE.

And over its first 90 days in the public markets, the stock has risen from $24 to $71 a share. For brevity's sake (and in the interests of public health), we'll end the story there and commence with tonight's lesson.

At this point in Snack Daddy's history, investors generally ask the following questions when pondering an investment:

  1. What? What does the company do? Do I
    know anything about its industry?

  2. So What? Why does it matter to the world?
    Why should I be interested?

  3. Now What? Where is the company going to
    from here? How will they continuously improve?

That third question is the focus of today's column. Every public business in America that's worth its salt asks that question of itself every year, every quarter, every week, every day. Now what? Where do we go now? How do we do better next year than last? The reason they focus on answering these questions is because public-market investors are forever asking that lyrical query: What have you done for me... lately?

The public marketplace is set up to reward the shareholders of companies pursuing limitlessly sustainable growth.

Naturally, then, if we invest in companies that are: (a) fixated on their historical performance; or (b) blind to the future; or (c) focused no further out than the end of their nose (i.e., the next opportunity for executives to sell their shares) -- we got trouble. To win as investors, we have to instead find companies with ambitious dreams and practical expansion plans for the next five years, the fifty after that, and then forever into eternity.

Companies that don't have that mentality should never have accepted capital from the general public.

Which leads me to my concluding point today. I think you and I, all of us, should pursue life from a similar vantage to that of the best public companies. In our lives, we should seek continuous improvement off a strengthening foundation. We should chase tweaks and innovations and embrace constant learning. We should be in steady pursuit of a little more happiness, a little more security, more opportunity, and a better life ahead.

We should ask ourselves: Now what? Where do I go now? How do I do better next year than last?

It is with that spirit that Matt, Zeke, Bill, Rob, Phil, and I will teach a Rule Maker Seminar in the month of July. We want to help you continuously improve as an investor. We want you to find the best large companies around which to bolster all of your financial plans. And I think we can achieve that, and more. If you're interested in signing up, click this link: Rule Maker Seminar Information and Sign Up

Please remember that we guarantee your satisfaction. If at its end you didn't like the seminar (how dare you!), let us know and we'll refund you in full -- no questions asked. That's the way we like to keep it: No buyer's risk for Fools.

I hope you'll join. We've been hard at work writing the lessons and planning for class. It's going to be great.

Tom Gardner