On this segment of a very special Rule Breaker Investing podcast, Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner has lined up a powerhouse guest panel to help him with his December present procurement: Motley Fool CEO and chief sibling Tom Gardner; Robert Brokamp of the Rule Your Retirement team and co-host of Motley Fool Answers; and Chris Hill, host of Market Foolery and Motley Fool Money, among other Foolish duties. They discuss their favorite things to give, their approaches to the giving season, their favorite places to find interesting gifts, and more.
A full transcript follows the video.
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This video was recorded on Dec. 13, 2017.
David Gardner: And now I'm really excited to start our Foolish Men's Gift-Giving Panel. I am going to briefly introduce this illustrious threesome that I have here around the table: my brother, Tom Gardner, the CEO of our company; Robert Brokamp, Rule Your Retirement advisor and Motley Fool Answers podcaster; and Chris Hill, Market Foolery, Motley Fool Money, Motley Fool podcasts writ large. Lots of other things, too. I think each of you is pretty familiar to any Motley Fool longtime fan, especially a podcast listener or somebody who comes to our Member Events. Or just buys from our company. We hope you know the brothers Gardner who are here at the microphone.
I want to start with one of the most generous people that I know, and that's my brother Tom Gardner. I'm not going to embarrass him or go through a lengthy list of how generous he is with so many people around him, but he is. Take it on my word. Tom, I just wanted to start by asking you. I'm listening to this podcast. It's Rule Breaker Investing. It's our Gift-Giving Special. You've got an insight or two for me to help me think a little smarter about giving in the next few weeks, if you will, because that's on everybody's mind, but maybe just the next few years. How do you think about giving?
Tom Gardner: Well, thank you for those kind words. I think of you as an extremely generous person, as do I think of Chris and Robert that way, as well.
David Gardner: You really do think Chris is that way? I mean, I think we can agree that Robert...
Chris Hill: I mean, Robert, yes.
Tom Gardner: I think David is very generous with his sarcasm.
David Gardner: Sarcasm is the wit of fools.
Tom Gardner: I think the first principle of gift-giving at this point in human history is to do so without ever having to go outside. Just hang there at your computer and get it all done...
David Gardner: Click. Click.
Tom Gardner: Why get out there? Why go outside anymore? Why do that? No. 2, I favor the Amazon Gift Card. I have a principle that I'm leading to, and I'll do it quickly...
David Gardner: Awesome.
Tom Gardner: ... but I favor the Amazon Gift Card because I think across all the gifts that I've been given in my life, which have been wonderfully thoughtful and generous, probably half of them have hit home for me. That means half are things that sat in closets or I had to figure out what to do with.
And the Amazon Gift Card, with even some recommendations. I think maybe the electric toothbrush would be great for you, XYZ person, but you choose what you actually need because I don't even know if you have an electric toothbrush, and why give you one if you already have one? I don't even know.
So I sit at home with the Amazon Gift Card. It seems like it's not a loving move, but I do believe in it. But beyond that, my real principle and the principle that we were taught by our parents was to really give the gift of experience and learning, and something that creates a memory rather than a thing that usually has depreciating utility in life, versus that memory that lives on forever. So taking the time to think through what experience you want for your friends and family to have that you're giving gifts to.
David Gardner: Excellent, since I insulted him, and it was totally unfair. I mean, I love the guy! Chris Hill, you have to go next. You're a very generous person. You're generous with your time to join us today -- on short notice, no less. Chris, help us! Add to the conversation. I hear Tom. A worry I might have is I'm going to now get 10 different Amazon Gift Cards. I'm going to be overwhelmed with just Amazon Gift Cards and I'm not even sure that's a bad thing.
Tom Gardner: That is not a worry that I have, if anybody's wondering.
David Gardner: How does Chris Hill approach the giving season?
Hill: Ironically, one of the ways I approach it is in direct conflict with something Tom said, which is...
Tom Gardner: Beautiful.
Hill: ... I actually do like to walk the streets of Old Town and go in and out of shops. Usually the week before Christmas I will just turn off my phone, put some music in my earbuds, and just walk down King Street in Old Town, just going in and out of shops. That, for me, is a just a way to open myself to discovery. Usually of stocking stuffers.
Tom Gardner: Is there a particular day that you do that each year? Like, do you know when you'll be doing that? Because there are so many Chris Hill fans that listen to this podcast. If they know Dec. 22 you're walking Old Town...
David Gardner: Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia.
Hill: It's usually Christmas Eve. It's usually the afternoon of Christmas Eve.
David Gardner: Is that true? That sounds...
Hill: It is, yeah.
David Gardner: That sounds possibly desperate, Chris. I know it's not, but isn't that...
Hill: It started out of desperation.
Tom Gardner: Are you somebody who enjoys photographs and signing autographs while you're walking Old Town?
Hill: It's never been an issue for me. I can't speak to that experience.
David Gardner: No, but that's great.
Hill: So that's the personal...
David Gardner: You're getting good deals, I guess. Because it's the 24th? Does that matter?
Hill: Sometimes, but usually I'm just looking for the unexpected. I'm just opening myself up to the possibility of being struck by something and saying, "Oh! One of my kids might like that or my wife might like that." That sort of thing.
David Gardner: All right. That's No. 1.
Hill: That's No. 1. No. 2 is every year I try and find one or two gifts -- I don't always succeed for everyone in my family -- but I try and find one or two gifts that are geared completely around humor. There is a family joke that we have. There is something funny that has happened recently. So, finding a stocking stuffer.
For several years my wife -- and it's OK. I can talk about her because she doesn't listen to this podcast. She burned a few oven mitts. She'd be just cooking something and maybe leave it on the stove. That kind of thing. It just became this running joke that at Christmas there would always be a brand new oven mitt, because we knew that at some point in the next 12 months one was going to burn. But anything that can tie into humor. Anything where I know when this person opens this gift, the gift is almost beside the point. It's really just about having a great laugh on Christmas morning.
David Gardner: That is awesome. Robert Brokamp, you've distinguished yourself in our office in years past with the Christmas Mix Tape.
Robert Brokamp: It's true.
David Gardner: I know you don't maybe do that as much anymore because it's not as much a tape or even a CD these days, but before I introduce you with a couple of thoughts from you, I wanted to say how much I enjoyed the Market Foolery bonus episode that Chris and Robert created together with the help of...
Hill: Bill Barker. Bill Barker down at Motley Fool Asset Management.
David Gardner: ... the inimitable Bill Barker. That was a tremendous hour and five minutes or so, that...
Brokamp: It was!
David Gardner: ... that was unexpected. You guys, I think, did it last week. But anybody who's a Market Foolery fan, if you didn't hear that bonus episode, check it out. What was the title?
Hill: The title was "Apropos of Nothing 2..."
David Gardner: Yes. Yes. And I enjoyed one.
Hill: ... The Holiday Edition.
David Gardner: The Holiday Edition. So anyway, outstanding. Robert, some thoughts.
Brokamp: First of all, I try to stay on the lookout for gifts yearlong for Christmas and birthday. And I have an Evernote folder -- it's a cloud-based file system -- that I write down ideas. And if I'm ever out with someone, and they're shopping, and they pick up something, and they clearly like it, I surreptitiously take a picture of it and put it in that folder.
For example, for my wife's birthday in October she got something that she saw over the summer when we were on vacation. That's one way that I keep track of ideas as people come across, because otherwise I'll never remember them.
David Gardner: That is outstanding. And Robert, let me ask. By the time we reach, let's say, Dec. 1 for the calendar year, how full or not will that Evernote -- what does that look like?
Brokamp: Oh, it's huge. It's huge.
David Gardner: Like how much stuff? Anybody.
Brokamp: Because it's all kinds of things.
David Gardner: Is it like 75 items, 22 items?
Brokamp: It's certainly more than 50 at this point. By the end of Christmas, I have to cull through it, because I have ideas from years ago for my kids and they've sort of outgrown them.
David Gardner: So basically, be thinking about gifts all the time.
Brokamp: Right. And even now when you're shopping. Like I bought something for my wife that she saw on Black Friday. She's looking at it. I take a picture, just so I remember it, and I came back later and got it.
Tom Gardner: Do you think she knows?
David Gardner: I was wondering.
Tom Gardner: Oh, oh! Look at the cellphone 10. Look at this iPhone 10. Just take a picture of that. If not, I hope Elizabeth is listening right now.
Brokamp: As you may all know, one concern with the phone generation is that we're all looking down and people are recommending that you hold your phone up to look at it. So she thinks I'm probably just looking at my phone.
Tom Gardner: You're filming a lot of people when you're out and about.
Brokamp: Well, see, I've had that, too. People think I'm taking pictures of them. It's only you that I'm taking pictures of.
David Gardner: Because he's going to be a gift one day, for somebody that you know.
Brokamp: That's exactly...
David Gardner: That's foresight.
Tom Gardner: That's a great approach, Robert. Really!
Brokamp: And the other thing I do is I do like online. I love Amazon, but I also love more offbeat sites, like UncommonGoods, Etsy, and ThinkGeek. I go to those sites and find something that I know that they'd like. And then all these sites will also give recommendations based on that. It's scroll down, and it's basically "if you like this, you'll also like these things." I scroll through those for new ideas.
David Gardner: This is horrible. I almost have to whisk this team off the stage, because I have my Foolish Women's Gift-Giving Panel.
Tom Gardner: Can I ask one question?
David Gardner: You, sure... I mean, you just did.
Tom Gardner: One more? I just did again!
David Gardner: Is it a quick one?
Tom Gardner: Um, it's pretty quick.
David Gardner: Go!
Tom Gardner: Do you ever negotiate when you're out there? There was somebody in the Motley Fool community years ago, I read, and he was always like, "Oh! You want 50 bucks for that? I'll give you 40." And he says one out three times that he's walking out of the store they're like, "Bup! How about 45?" Have you ever negotiated when you're out there?
Brokamp: My wife and I paid for our wedding and we were strapped for cash back in those young days, so I tried it a few times and it never worked.
Tom Gardner: It never worked. OK, good.
David Gardner: Here's my final question for you each. If it's the last minute -- because some of our Rule Breaker Investing podcast listeners make last-minute decisions or have last-minute needs. All of a sudden they're like, "Oh my gosh. I don't have something for Blank." Do you have a particular approach that you might take, or a tip for me, as a last-minute shopper? Right away I see Chris Hill already nodding his head. Chris?
Hill: I have absolutely been in this position, and my approach is to fully embrace the amount of money I'm going to pay in shipping. I don't even think twice about it. It's like, "OK. That's how much it costs to get it here by the day I need it. Fine. I am all in. I have to get this done." I don't even think twice about it.
David Gardner: So just don't worry about the shipping.
Hill: Just embrace. That is the price that I pay for waiting until the last minute.
Tom Gardner: Are you an Amazon shareholder when you say that?
Hill: Yes, I am.
Tom Gardner: OK, good. I wanted to know that.
Brokamp: I fall back on experiences. Get tickets to a play or something. Go to Groupon. Look for what's on sale, buy it, print it out.
Tom Gardner: I would say even if it's not completely sincere, a deeply emotional phone call with that person.
Brokamp: Do you write a coupon for that?
David Gardner: Christmas Day.
Tom Gardner: Yeah.
David Gardner: Just what people are waiting for.
Tom Gardner: Show as much as you can care, and then come a week later with something.
David Gardner: Well, as we said earlier, sarcasm is the wit of fools, but I never know when he's being sarcastic, really. All right, that was a lot of fun. Thank you, gentlemen. I really appreciate your time.
Tom Gardner: Expect your deeply emotional phone call from me.