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9 "Self-Evident" Foolish Truths, No. 6: Go Against the Conventional Wisdom

By Motley Fool Staff - Oct 30, 2017 at 7:10PM

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Often, if you avoid doing what everybody else is doing, you can put yourself in a better position to win.

This week is the 120th Rule Breakers podcast, and as Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner looked back, he realized he's covered a whole lot of subjects in those shows. More to the point, with all those episodes behind him, there are some areas he may not have covered in detail in a while. So he's getting back to basics with a set of ideas he thinks any Foolish investor ought to take for granted -- because he's not taking it for granted that everyone knows them.

In this segment, he reminds us about some of the best reasons to be a rule breaker -- in games, in business, and in the market.

A full transcript follows the video.

This video was recorded on Oct. 11, 2017.

David Gardner: Now let's get away from just business and away from the markets, general investing, and let's go very specifically into our space, Rule Breaker Investing. Let's think about why it works, what wins in the markets, why it's so much fun, and what we're all about here at Rule Breakers.

Foolish Self-Evident Truth No. 6: We're Fools. Fools don't like wisdom. I don't like conventional wisdom. Well, I do like conventional wisdom when it works, and by the way, sometimes conventional wisdom works, and that's why it's become a convention. But many other times, especially as humans, sometimes we like to play tricks in our minds. We think that there's a certain way of thinking about something. Or maybe we were taught. Maybe we were taught how to think.

I was disturbed as I drove in this morning hearing The Economist audio edition what's happening in Turkey right now, which is that kids are no longer being taught biological evolution in that European Union nation. Their leader, Erdoğan, is pulling that learning from kids' textbooks. It's going to be hard to be a competitive, modern nation if you are not teaching kids how to think as best you can.

So, sometimes it's the stories we tell ourselves in our heads that starts to set up the conventional wisdom that then sometimes becomes conventional because other people start thinking the same thing, too; and what I would think of as suboptimal thoughts become shared. And that's what's so great about Foolishness, and that's why it's so much fun to break the rules.

I am a board gamer. That has become clear to anybody who has listened to this podcast any length of time that exceeds maybe two months or so, and as a board gamer I recognize that often the best approach to take to a good strategy board game is to look around, see what others are doing, see how they're all competing for the same resources or maybe in this area of the map or the game board; and by not doing what everybody else is doing, often you put yourself in a better position to win the game.

And I think the same thing is true of the game of business where new businesses pop up, trying things in different ways, breaking the rules of how things are done in their industries, and succeeding. Well, the best ones do. And I also think it's true of investing and investment strategies.

Part of what I love about Rule Breaker Investing is we're taking a highly contrary approach. None of it is taught in schools, other than maybe Fool School. A lot of it is self-learned and it continues to evolve as an approach and a strategy. It's very contrary, as I'll be mentioning shortly in another point, and that's part of the reason I think it works. So point No. 6 is just about the beauty of fighting against conventional wisdom, something that The Motley Fool has done across many fronts and contexts in our first 24 years on this planet.

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