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HG Philosophy
"These 'bad times' will soon be universally regarded as times of outstanding opportunity."

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By TMFJazzysav
November 19, 2008

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Last week I had the pleasure of travelling to Washington DC to meet and break bread with my friends at The Motley Fool. I was welcomed to their headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, on Thursday to spend two subsequent days chatting with some of the Fools you know, and some of the one you don't. This is a short memo from my trip with a couple of key points that I think you should know.

Rewinding a bit, some time back I was invited to Fool HQ as a long standing subscriber and stroller, in order to meet the people who keep the business breathing. I gratefully accepted, booked my flights and flew into Dulles airport last Wednesday. My hotel was located in Old Town Alexandria, adjacent to the old Fool office, a tremendously agreeable place to spend a night, a week, or even a lifetime. As an aside, Old Town was originally laid out in 1749 and is chiefly known for its historic town houses, art galleries, antique shops, and restaurants. A great place for old and young alike.

A Foolish greeting awaited my arrival at 2000 Duke St. In the panoramic rotunda meeting area I was introduced to several full-time Fools, where we chatted over coffee and light breakfast. The far field views of Washington and the leafy parklands just outside the window were the stuff of picture postcards. Roger Friedman gave me tour of the office, which a Google-esque workplace where creature comforts and quirky fun areas are in abundance: massage room, hangover recovery room (I think they call it something else), games room, organic coffee-bean coffee makers, the list goes on and on. Believe me, you could do a lot�worse. I can understand why TMF is one of Washington's best places to work.

To my delight after the tour I had the privilege to sit in with about a dozen or so other Fools to hear a talk from Chuck Akre, founder of Akre Capital Management LLC, and investing luminary who has been repeatedly named to Barron's "Top 100 Mutual Fund Manager List." He's a highly experienced no-load Small Cap Growth Fund manager who has been successfully investing for more years than I've been breathing. I can summarize Mr. Akre's two hour talk as follows, not easy as there are so many things I could recount: reputations and fortunes will be made by those who invest in the months ahead, and, there has not been a buying opportunity such as this one since the early 70's. Re-read that last sentence - it's one of my two key takes! Just trust me that he's a credible guy and I'd trust his judgment.

That afternoon I enjoyed a wonderful lunch with Cindy, Tanya and Denise - backstage Fools, so to speak. We nearly had the problems of the world solved in sixty minutes, until I broke the flow to ask who the heck is Chevy Chase Bank? I now know it's a place, *and* an actor, *and* a bank. 

Over the following day I sat and spoke with many other Fools: Ollen Douglas, John Reeves, Bill Mann, Tim Hansen, David Gardner, Andy Cross and at least a dozen others. To summarize our conversations not would be possible, or altogether accurate, however I can state a conviction that I now hold stranger than ever before: your faith in The Motley Fool is not misplaced. Despite the grown-up playground feel to the office, it is filled with individuals who take what they do very, very, seriously. In fact, during my chat with David Gardner, he said (and I paraphrase) that he does not overly worry about his own folio's performance; his first and foremost concern lies is in the faith that members have placed in him and his team. In essence, if he had to choose, DG would prefer to see TMF subscribe services' scorecards outperform his own holdings. 

While watching Bill and Tim record a Global Gains dispatch I was struck at how effortlessly they spoke with expert knowledge about a not altogether usual topic: Indonesia and investment opportunities within. A 10-or-so minute talk took one take. Had it been me I'd still be in there...

So, to summarize a lot of small lessons that amounted to something large: reputations and fortunes will be made by those who invest in the months ahead, and, your trust in The Motley Fool is something they take very seriously and I wholeheartedly believe that in them you have some inordinately intelligent analysts working in your interest.

One more thing - despite all the cool things you can do at Fool HQ, like basketball and pinball and that kind of stuff, guess how many I saw actually doing it over the two days? The square root of zero - nobody. Hard work is something they're not scared of.


So, keep the faith. These "bad times" will soon be universally regarded as times of outstanding opportunity. The difference being is we Fool know that they are before the majority.

I'll post up a few photos for your interest shortly.


Regards,

Emmet 

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