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, Cheryl Palting explains how her Motley, "Fly, you Fools," relates to her role in helping employees succeed in their work. Then, Laura Cavanaugh shares her Motley, "Data whoa," which she describes as the moment someone finds a game-changing insight when examining business intelligence.
A full transcript follows the video.
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This video was recorded on April 4, 2018.
David Gardner: Kara, for our next guest, as she walked in, our part-time producer, our substitute awesome producer this week, Anne Henry said, "People are going to figure out about our next guest that she probably should have her own podcast."
Cheryl Palting: No way.
Gardner: We'll see about that. Kara, who do we have next?
Kara Chambers: Cheryl Palting. Your motley is near and dear to my heart, and that's your role in our people team. Can you tell us a little about what you do and your motley?
Palting: Yes, of course. Thank you so much for having me, by the way. It's always so exciting to be on the podcast. My motley is "Fly, you Fools." For you Lord of the Rings fans out there, yes, I totally stole that. But it's a bit of a two-parter. The first part is the "fly." I love being able to help any Fool [new, tenured] succeed in any way I can.
Being on the people team is a big part of our job -- to make sure that we are allowing for Fools to do their best work, their most efficient work, and then also be their happiest. Any way I can do that, I will, whether it's outside of my team. On the recruiting team. For all of you who are interested in working at The Motley Fool, give us a shout-out. Let me know. I'll reach out and I'll tell you a little bit more about our company.
Gardner: It's our own stuff. We're allowed to plug it. I'm surrounded by awesome people team members, here, at The Motley Fool.
Palting: That's true.
Gardner: Cheryl, you just said if I were interested in getting to know more about The Motley Fool and maybe applying for work. How would I do that, having heard you say that?
Palting: Head over to Careers.Fool.com. You can read about our openings. You can read about our teams, here, at The Motley Fool, watch some videos, and get to know us a little bit better.
Lee Burbage: Twitter. Instagram. The Motley Fool culture.
Palting: Of course. Lee being our head of people -- an amazing, fearless leader -- mentioned Twitter and Facebook. We have all sorts of social media websites out there, so just give us a quick search online and I'm sure you'll find us.
Gardner: Now Cheryl, are you a Lord of the Rings fan?
Palting: A huge fan.
Gardner: I assume you read the books before you saw the movie.
Palting: I did, and only because my family is also a big fan of Lord of the Rings. We're super into science fiction and utopias [not that Lord of the Rings is a utopia]. There are many fan theories out there, but I think earlier I mentioned there is a bit of a two-parter to my motley.
Gardner: Yes, you did the "fly" part.
Palting: Yes, I did the fly. "Fly, you Fools" I think is that second part. In the books and in the movies, you can see Gandalf saying, "Fly, you fools." And online there's this huge debate on what that means. Some people say that "Fly, you fools" was Gandalf [and this is a spoiler alert if you haven't read the books or watched the movies].
Gardner: It's OK.
Burbage: It's time.
Palting: It's time. It's been over 10 years, everyone. If you haven't seen or read the books, that's not my fault. I highly recommend it, though. So, there's a huge debate that "Fly, you fools," was Gandalf telling the Fellowship that they should take the eagles to Mordor so that they don't have to walk through...
Gardner: Oh! I just thought it meant leave. Like, get out of here.
Palting: Correct. So, he says, "Fly, you fools," and so some viewers and some readers were saying that was Gandalf saying take the eagles. The other part of the argument is he was just saying leave. Go. We're on this journey. Do your best work.
And I think of that part, that debate and that back and forth between two multiple views of what something means is really true to what we do, here, at The Motley Fool. I think when we are analyzing stocks or analyzing companies, just because we see the same information doesn't mean that we'll necessarily have the same opinion on something, and it's important to see both sides and understand that everyone's opinion is valid. It's just that motley of opinions allows us to make great business recommendations and decisions.
Gardner: And that is, indeed, the heart of motley and Cheryl, you understand that about as well as anybody here at our company. How long have you been at The Fool?
Palting: A little over four years.
Gardner: All right.
Palting: The best four years ever.
Gardner: So, you are a newb on this particular podcast...
Palting: I am totally a newb.
Gardner: ... which is great. But Cheryl, I think you recently got a little bit of acclaim [a little bit of publicity and recognition for what you do for new employees when they arrive at The Motley Fool]. Without bragging too much, what does a first day look like for a Motley Fool employee?
Palting: I always like to say this, but it's a huge collaborative effort between an entire team of Fools, including the hiring managers and the people who actually interviewed the new Fool. I think that experience starts all the way from that first application.
But when you're a new Fool and you're hired, and you've accepted, yay! Your first day is a lot of fun. We think you should do all that legal HR stuff even before you get here so there's no paperwork to be signed. That's done before your first day. You meet a ton of Fools.
You start off the day with a tour from Lee B., our head of people who's been here 20+ years, and he's telling you fun stories which leads into making sure that your tech is all set up. Making sure that you're familiar with the actual layout of the company. Sometimes we'll switch it up. We'll have you listen into People Team Q&A. Sometimes you'll go right into lunch. It really depends on what we think is best for that day.
After everything, lunch is on The Fool. You meet new people. You learn a little bit about Foolishness. You get payroll set up. Everyone loves to get paid -- money is great -- but at the end of the day, we want you to meet everyone, and that literally means meeting everyone by going around with a cart full of food and drinks [typically beer] so you're the most popular person in the office.
Gardner: You're just pushing a free beer cart around getting to know everyone at the company.
Palting: Yes, and for about an hour and a half you're saying, "Hi, my name is blank." At the end, obviously, we quiz you on all the names that you've learned thus far.
Gardner: Of course! Of course!
Palting: But that's how we want you to end your day and you end early. We always start on a Friday. We want to make sure that your first day is as stressless as possible.
Gardner: Always start on a Friday.
Palting: Always start on a Friday.
Gardner: Every time I hear this team [Lee, Kara, and Cheryl] talk about what it's like to get started at The Motley Fool, I remember my own first day at The Fool, which lacked all of these things, and I'm pretty sure we should have started on a Friday. We'd probably be a better company today had we done so. But, awesome. Thanks for joining us, Cheryl!
Palting: Thank you for having me!
Gardner: Fly, you fool. Speaking of relatively new Fools, but Fools of real consequence, Lee, who have you brought in next?
Burbage: Well, I was excited about this one because I think, like Adrienne, this is a motley that has sort of caught on and even other people are saying it. It's a catchphrase in the office. So, welcome to Laura Cavanaugh. Laura, maybe you can tell us a little bit about what you do, here, and your motley.
Laura Cavanaugh: Sure. I head up the business intelligence team here at The Fool, and we get to partner with all the teams across the company and help them make data-driven decision using reporting, analysis, A/B testing and modeling.
Gardner: And Laura, what is your motley?
Cavanaugh: My motley is "Data whoa!"
Gardner: Data whoa.
Cavanaugh: Yes. The inflection is important because it's W-H-O-A, not to be confused with "data woe," or W-O-E.
Gardner: Awesome. It definitely is a catchphrase here at The Motley Fool because I think the "whoa" part is that an insight has occurred. Talk us through that a little bit.
Cavanaugh: It's really a moment when we find a game-changing insight and a data set that makes a really big impact on our member experience, our prospective customer experience, and our business.
Gardner: Can you give an example of a data whoa in the last year or so?
Cavanaugh: Sure. One that's in progress right now is an experience we're testing called "Foolish Wisdom" to a portion of our members. We're sharing mindset and market commentary content. It's going well, over all, but when we dug into the data, we found that it's going particularly well for new members, which is really exciting. So, we're seeing signs that we're delivering value to our members and they're sticking around with us at a higher rate as a result.
Gardner: Now, it's probably an ongoing assumption among us four, and therefore I need to disabuse all the rest of us. We all think we know what A/ B testing is because we do it every day and Laura, you know it better than anybody at the company, probably. But I'm going to assume that not every Rule Breaker Investing listener knows what the phrase A/ B testing is. Could you just briefly explain that and how it leads to whoas?
Cavanaugh: Sure. We run experiments called A/ B tests across our site and our email experience where we develop something new and we serve it up to a portion of our members while the other portion gets the control experience. The norm. That way we're able to monitor the impact we're making on this brand new awesome thing that we built.
And we don't just accept the results at high level. We get to dig in, ask questions of the data, see who it's working for, who it's not working for, and that leads us into a new round of testing, which is really fun.
Gardner: And was this your major in college?
Cavanaugh: My major was actually business administration and a double major in studio art. I'm a numbers person, but I also really like telling stories with the data that can compel us into a new direction.
Gardner: And I know that you've spoken at some conferences. I think I hooked you up with one and I got a really nice thank you note from the conference organizer afterwards saying you were a star at the conference. You had everybody saying your motley at that conference, Laura. If I were interviewing the Laura Cavanaugh who is 10 years old and asking, "What do you want to be when you grow up and what do you think your motley would be," would you have been saying, "Data whoa?"
Cavanaugh: I think I always wanted to be a scientist. I was always kind of curious. I just randomly fell into this profession and it's been a wonderful experience, especially here at The Fool.