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, Adrienne Perryman talks about her Motley, "We got this, yo," which shows a spirit of collaboration and optimism. Lawrence Greenberg explains how his Motley, "Gordian," relates to his role and personality, in which he strives to make complicated problems simpler and cut through confusion. Finally, Peter Varley's Motley, "Meet and greet," shows his aim of fostering welcomeness and community.
A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on April 4, 2018.
David Gardner: [We have] five or six core values at The Motley Fool -- one of them is motley. And Adrienne Perryman, welcome!
Adrienne Perryman: Thank you very much!
Gardner: And we ask you and the other Fools we'll be talking to this hour what your motley is. What is the value that you bring, that you show off, that you bring to The Motley Fool every day? Adrienne, what is your motley?
Perryman: My motley is "we got this, yo."
Gardner: We got this, yo. Adrienne, what do you do at The Motley Fool?
Perryman: I wear a number of different hats, here, at The Fool. I'm a member of the communications team. I also work with our CEO, Tom Gardner, on operations support and helping him run the company.
Gardner: Excellent. How long have you been at The Fool?
Perryman: Ten years.
Gardner: Congratulations and thank you!
Perryman: Thank you!
Gardner: So, we got this, yo. I mean, the first thing, Kara, that comes to mind is the word yo, don't you think? Like it could just be we got this. Let's start with yo.
Perryman: Well, I think it's just a fun way of expressing a collaboration, which is also another core value of ours. It's just a little flair at the end that brings my own special fun sauce to the mix
Gardner: So, the "we got this" part sounds like somebody who is a "can do" person.
Perryman: Yes, I would say so. And, also, I think an encourager of others, no matter what my job has been, here. I started as an executive assistant, helping other people achieve their goals and supporting them in a fun, collaborative, can-do way. Sometimes people, no matter if you're a Fool or not, just really need encouragement. Like if you're facing a big problem or challenge, I've always tried to be a partner to people in that way. That we -- you and I -- we've got this, yo! It's going to be fun. We're going to solve it together.
Gardner: It really does start with the word "we," and I probably should have started there, but that's such an excellent point, Adrienne. Do you have an example of where that motley has helped you or helped somebody else? I know it's how you roll on a day-to-day basis.
Perryman: I was thinking about this because I sort of anticipated this question. I did have a hard time thinking of a specific example, but what I did think about was whenever it's been thrown back to me. Whenever I've been facing a hard challenge, and somebody's looked at me and been like, "Adrienne, we've got this, yo!"
Perryman: Yes, or just that positive, "Don't worry! It's going to be fine! This is a tall mountain in front of us, but I'm going to help you get this done, Adrienne." It's having the tables turned on me a little bit. I was like, "Oh, it does work."
Gardner: And it's kind of great, Lee, because it does combine collaboration, which is a Motley Fool core value and optimism, which is also a Motley Fool core value, so I think Adrienne exemplifies, in her own chosen motley, The Motley Fool.
Lee Burbage: Yes, we love that. We talk about our core values a lot, and never one without the other. They all work well together as I think our team does and the people that work here.
Gardner: We got this, yo.
Perryman: We got this.
Gardner: Thanks, Adrienne!
Perryman: Thanks for having me!
Gardner: Speaking of people who have been at The Motley Fool for a long time, I know our next guest very well but, Kara, who have you brought in next?
Kara Chambers: We've brought in Lawrence Greenberg, our chief legal counsel, to tell us about his motley.
Gardner: Awesome. Lawrence, how long have you been at The Fool? Longer than I have.
Lawrence Greenberg: Almost. About 21 years.
Gardner: Tremendous. And so, since you and I have been around for a couple of decades, here, at The Motley Fool, you and I both remember that there was a time when we didn't have motleys. I'd like to think, Lawrence, we were still motley, but we didn't actually have motleys or core values, so it wasn't until maybe eight, nine, or 10 years ago that you had to think about what your value would be that you bring to work.
Greenberg: I think that's right, and actually I had a lot of help in thinking about what I brought from our copywriters.
Gardner: That's awesome, because that's kind of their job, isn't it in a way?
Gardner: And your job was to tell them not to do whatever they thought that they could do because you're our chief counsel. But somehow it all came together, and it worked.
Greenberg: I hope so. But I actually don't think that's right -- that my job is to tell them not to do what they want to do. My job is to help them figure out how to do what they're doing right.
Gardner: I completely agree.
Greenberg: And that fits with the nature of my motley which is, "Gordian."
Greenberg: That's correct.
Burbage: I would just like to throw in that David Gardner recently won the spelling bee at The Motley Fool.
Gardner: Thank you very much, Lee. That even might have been mentioned on this podcast once before...
Burbage: Oh, of course. Of course, it was.
Gardner: But we try to salt it in at least once every podcast. You're awesome, Lee. So, the Gordian knot, which I know is a phrase. Lawrence, I don't actually know the origin of it, but regardless, I want to know the origin of it for you. How did you settle on Gordian?
Greenberg: Well, in this conversation with one of our copywriters, we were talking about what our respective motleys were and trying to figure out ways to phrase them in ways that were not hideously boring. Surprisingly, a lot of people think that what lawyers do is not that interesting.
And what it really came down to is that my job is to take complicated problems, make them so that people can understand, and that we can solve them together, preferably successfully. And the Gordian knot, in Greek legend, was a hideously complicated knot that was brought to Alexander the Great with the prophecy that whoever could untie it would rule Asia. And Alexander, after struggling with it for a while, pulled out his sword and chopped the knot in half, which made it easier to unravel.
I rarely get to use knives in my work, but what I like to think that I do, and what I try to do, is arrive at problems typically when they are confusing, cut through the confusion, and allow us to make decisions, because actually much of business decision-making is not that complicated once you figure out what you're doing. And I would argue that much of investing is not super complicated once you figure out what you're looking at, what you understand, and are prepared to do over a long term.
Gardner: And that is both so thoughtful and so true. And Lawrence, I almost want to apologize to you for earlier putting you up as the guy who needs to tell the people no, because you've just done a much better job and your motley is what's enabled explaining exactly what you've done here for a couple of decades at The Motley Fool and done it so well.
Lawrence, has that always been your motley and/ or do you imagine that always being your motley?
Greenberg: My original motley was "judgment," because I thought that was what I was supposed to bring to the company, but I think this may always be my motley, because it really fits with my role and my personality. I like to look at hard problems, I like to try to make them easier and, I hope, to solve them.
Gardner: And there might even be some empire-building going on here, too, Alexander the Great notwithstanding. Lawrence, thank you very much!
Greenberg: Thank you!
Gardner: Kara, who have you brought in next?
Chambers: Peter Varley, a colleague. I invited you, here, because your motley is about something that isn't about your job, but something that you bring to our culture in your own way.
Peter Varley: Yes, my motley is "meet and greet." Technically, I'm hired here as a programmer for web development. I'm on the market tech team. I'm supporting our marketing efforts. But what I really enjoy at this company is all the wonderful people we have, here, and also at FoolFest, and so forth, getting to meet some of our members.
Gardner: Peter, yes, technically you are, I hope, a programmer because that is an important function that we need done here and do send a lot of marketing, here, at The Motley Fool and we want it to work. So, you are somebody who is known throughout the company. We're a company of 320. That's a lot larger than some of the companies that our listeners have and then a lot smaller than other companies that people work for. Peter, where did you come from before you came to The Motley Fool?
Varley: I worked at a company called Wall Street on Demand that was doing sites for various financial institutions. That was in Boulder, Colorado.
Gardner: And before that, I sense you weren't born in this country.
Varley: That's amazing you should mention that. Does my accent give it away? Yes, I'm from Australia, but we've been here, as of last week, I think, 23 years...
Varley: ... which is a long time, given that we only came for nine months.
Chambers: Peter, I was going to ask. I think you meet with every, single employee? Or attempt?
Varley: I've certainly tried to get to know all the new employees. There are some employees who have been around for a long time who I've not actually had lunch with, but certainly anyone who's new I try and get to know, and I've been doing that for a few years, now. I know almost everyone in the company reasonably well.
Gardner: And isn't that tremendous?
Burbage: And if I could expand your motley, slightly, I've seen you in the café having lunch with new Fools.
Varley: Yes, I had lunch with Jean today and tomorrow it's John.
Burbage: And oftentimes when I see you, you're not there with just that person, but it's even a bigger group.
Burbage: So, your meet and greet is even beyond just eating now.
Varley: The idea is when someone comes into a new company, it's obviously intimidating, and so if you can introduce that person to a bunch of other people it eases the transition for them and almost always there's some interesting stories that come out.
Gardner: Peter, let me ask since you have this perspective that we lack. Often, I'm told that Americans are very friendly and when we go abroad people say that Americans are. But that's the way that we think in America. We think Australians are. The real question is who's meeting and greeting best of all? Is it the Aussies, the Americans, or somebody else?
Varley: Oh, I have no idea. I never thought about that. I think Australians, in general, are pretty open. Interestingly, roughly one in four people in Australia were born outside the country, whereas for America it's roughly one in 10. I think Australians, in general, are fairly open to new things, and new people, and just new ideas.
Gardner: Peter Varley, thank you! I love your motley in that it's not only a descriptor -- an action term that you make happen -- but that you've personally greeted all the many Motley Fool employees that we've hired. And you're how many years, here, at The Motley Fool?
Varley: Coming up to 12. A long time.
Gardner: Tremendous. That is our great good fortune to have Peter Varley at The Motley Fool.
Varley: Thank you. I partly do it because it's fun, too. It's a benefit to me, but yes, it is a benefit to them, as well.