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What's a Motley?

By Motley Fool Staff – Apr 11, 2018 at 10:10AM

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The Fool’s People Team helps explain one of the company's core values.

In this episode of Rule Breaker Investing, Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner sits down with Kara Chambers and Lee Burbage, members of the Fool's People Team, to discuss one of the company's core values: Motley.

In this segment, Kara and Lee describe how it works, as well as the origin of the concept. They explain how Motleys were adopted to help Fools tell something about themselves and their approach to the Fool.

A full transcript follows the video.

This video was recorded on April 4, 2018.

David Gardner: Welcome! Happy April! And this time it's time to bring back my friends Kara Chambers and Lee Burbage. Kara and Lee work on The Motley Fool's people team. And if you are -- and why not -- a longtime listener of this podcast, you'll remember that I have Kara and Lee back a couple of times a year to talk about something that matters a lot to us as businesspeople and investors, and yup, it counts for both.

And that is corporate culture, the experience that you have, that I have, on a daily basis going to work for the organizations that we do. We hope for a great purpose and with great outcome and results. We love to talk about culture; again, not just as Motley Fool employees, but as investors.

I look at the cultures of the companies that I'm thinking about investing in because after all, if I'm going to hold 10 years or more [far more than buying a product, a service, a competitive framework, a CEO], I think I'm buying the culture of the organization that you and I are putting our money into. So, culture, culture, culture. Kara, Lee, welcome!

Lee Burbage: Thank you so much for having us!

Kara Chambers: Thank you!

Gardner: We talked about what we would want to do this time and we started going to a keyword for The Motley Fool, and Kara, what word is that?

Chambers: Motley.

Gardner: That's right, motley. And motley is an important word for us because, of course, it was the ragtag garment worn by fools of yore. Back in Elizabethan times -- those crazy jesters and their clothing -- that was motley. That's what they wore. Kind of patchwork quilted garments. But for us at The Motley Fool, I've always thought of motley as... Well, let me think of it this way.

When you come to work for The Motley Fool, you are your own unique piece of stained glass. You have your own shape. You have your own hue. And when you join us at our company, or when somebody joins your company, dear listeners, they're adding their piece of stained glass to the window. We've, for years now, set that up and made that one of our core values. Lee, could you just briefly describe motley as a core value? What does it mean, here, at The Motley Fool?

Burbage: Well, maybe about 2010 I was asked to be part of a team by your producer, Rick Engdahl...

Gardner: Awesome.

Burbage: ... and thank you, Rick ... for a group of Fools to get together and take a look at our existing core values at that time and just modernize them a little bit. Revamp. We had a lot of meetings, as you can imagine a process like that might go, and we realized we just couldn't quite get there. We couldn't quite get our perfect list of core values that represented everybody here and what we were doing.

And it dawned on us -- and that's to your point, David -- that everyone is a little different. Everyone brings something to the table. And so, we wanted something that could allow people to represent "Hey, I'm bought into the company core values, but I also bring something of my own and I want a way to express it."

Gardner: Kara, you and I were talking about this beforehand. There's a lot of talk, these days, about "fit" and looking for cultural fit, and I think that we've tried for that, some, but there's something more than just mere fit when you hire.

Chambers: Right. What we've talked about, now, is cultural contribution. Is how you add and bring yourself to our culture. Fitting in sounds homogenous and it sounds like you're just going to be like everyone else. What we realized -- in fact, the opposite of motley -- is conformity. What we're looking for is Fools to bring their whole self to work so each person brings something different, which is what you want. It will create a better company.

Gardner: And Kara, in particular you've brought together our show, this week, because what we wanted to do is show off what motley looks like. What it sounds like. How it works at our company and how it might at your organization, whoever you are. And so, Kara you have hand selected a motley group of Fools to talk about their motleys this week.

Chambers: Yes. We had some fun, too. Everybody is interpreted a little differently. For some of you it's things you say a lot and then you put that value behind your work. It's something that you love to do. It's a unique way of looking at your job. How you contribute. We tried to pick Fools that you may not hear from all the time and listen to how they approach their work.

Gardner: Thank you very much. And Lee, motley is a core value, here, at The Motley Fool. The idea of motley is that you are bringing something of yourself. Do you just want to double underline it before we have Adrienne Perryman join us with the first motley?

Burbage: Absolutely.

Gardner: But when somebody's saying, "What's your motley?" around Motley Fool headquarters, what are they asking of somebody else?

Burbage: It tells you a little bit about them. A little bit of something that you might not know already. We do try to make them fun and different, so as you walk around the office you'll typically see at each person's desk their name and their motley displayed. It could be a conversation starter to getting in and getting to know someone on a little bit of a deeper level.

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