On this week's Rule Breaker Investing podcast, Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner takes a break from his usual topics and generally upbeat outlook to dig into some things that just irk him. He thinks we'd all be better off retiring some phrases from our vocabularies, because they're linked to ideas we'd do well to dump as well.
Among the common phrases and idea that pains him is "changing the world." Why, he wonders, is everyone acting as if all change is for the better, when we know it's not? As a double bonus, he also delves briefly into literary criticism, and picks on a book that's perennially popular at graduation time, and we can pretty much guarantee you've read a few works by the author. And then, an even more focused critique -- a specific usage he especially opposes for the verb "to do."
A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on Nov. 15, 2017.
David Gardner: Pet Peeve No. 5: Now this is one I think I've foreshadowed and I think I've echoed this once or twice before on the podcast. It's that phrase, "change the world." You know what? We're going to change the world. A lot of people make jokes about the good show Silicon Valley these days about how every entrepreneurial start-up -- the message, the PowerPoints -- is always about how we're going to change the world. You'll see late-night infomercials talking about a product that's going to "change your life."
The pet peeve, here, is that everything changes life and world at all times. The very fact that I'm saying this right now is changing the world. The very fact that you take the time to listen to Rule Breaker Investing -- this week or any week -- I hope that changes you a little bit, and you'll go on to change the world.
I'm changing your life right now. You're changing my life right -- change is the only constant. Change says nothing, really, because is it change for better or is it change for worse? I think what most of the Silicon Valley start-ups and all the late-night infomercials really mean is improve your life.
And I think the next time you find somebody using the phrase change or you find yourself using it, pause for a sec and consider that if they're talking about changing life, might that be worse? Because that's also another form of change. Is it really for the better? But if it is for the better, let's not use the tired phrase "change your life" or "change the world." Let's talk about improve, better, because that's, I think, what they mean and what most of us are trying for. Enough with the whole "change the world, change your life" thing.
Again, I promised that there would be some Ebenezer Scrooge, so I hope some of that is coming through here today, and I will shortly resume my Fred self, next week, but thank you for indulging me.
This one is a pretty quick one. This is the throwaway. It's arguably not fair, like almost all of these. By the way, anybody's pet peeve is somebody else's favorite thing. I was going to go off on a rant against my least favorite Dr. Seuss book. Kind of a pet peeve for me that so many people love this book, and I know, I bet you do, too.
Because this Dr. Seuss book, which is not even Pet Peeve No. 6 but a digression, this Dr. Seuss book is very frequently, probably the No. 1 most given book of the Seuss books to new graduates. High school, college, etc. It's Oh, the Places You'll Go! and I know there's a lot of love for Oh, the Places You'll Go!
But when I read the book, it just comes across as kind of empty. Meandering. There's no real plot. There's not a lot of wit. It just surmises about all the places you'll go. And it's whimsical, and I appreciate that, and I love Dr. Seuss. I've shared Dr. Seuss on this podcast before. But for me, anyway, Oh, the Places You'll Go!, low ranking on the Dr. Seuss oeuvre.
Pet Peeve No. 6: Point No. 6 is kind of similarly superficial and therefore pretty quick to do, but do you feel this way? I don't really like it when I'm talking to people and they're talking about the vacation that they went on. And they went from let's say Paris to Amsterdam to London. Or maybe they're a skier and they're talking about last year where they skied Sugarloaf. Sugarbush. Steamboat. Sugar Mountain.
But they say it like this, and this is kind of what gets me. And I realize this is a very small, small part of me that's about to say this. They say, "I did this."
"How was Europe?"
"Yeah, we did Paris. We did Amsterdam. We did London. We did Sugar Mountain. We did Sugarloaf, Sugarbush." Doing thing. Doing places? Is that what we do? We do London? And we do Paris? I mean, we definitely visit. I hope we enjoy. Maybe we learn. Study. Eat. Fraternize? But do, and just to do places over the course of your life or your summer vacation? The Ebenezer Scrooge in me thinks we can take it one notch higher. I think we're not just out there to do places and do people. I think we're there to study, learn, enjoy, experience. Love. Hate. Not do.
The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.