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Great Quotes, the Conscious Capitalism Edition: How Teddy Roosevelt Wanted to Spend His Days

By Motley Fool Staff - May 28, 2018 at 12:58PM

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The movement may be kind of new, but the ideas that underlie it are not -- as demonstrated by the ancientness of some of the aphorisms David picked this week.

For this Rule Breaker Investing podcast, host David Gardner once again climbs up onto the shoulders of giants with a "Great Quotes" episode. These five memorable bon mots offer him excellent entries into topics that Foolish investors ought to be considering. Specifically, because May is Conscious Capitalism Month, he focused on wise words that can apply to that evolving holistic business philosophy.

In this segment, he offers us a simple but profound idea from President Theodore Roosevelt on the topic of work.

A full transcript follows the video.

This video was recorded on May 16, 2018.

David Gardner: Great Quote No. 2 comes from Teddy Roosevelt. I'm a big T.R. fan. I know I'm speaking to a lot of others. I hope you've enjoyed Candice Millard's wonderful book, The River of Doubt, which tells the remarkable story of Teddy Roosevelt's voyage into South America trying to find the source of a mysterious and very dangerous river after he was president in his 50s. A remarkable story. Candice has been on this podcast. We talked a little bit about The River of Doubt. I'm looking forward to her next book, which will be about finding the source of the Nile. That's a few years hence, but excited about that.

Teddy Roosevelt -- here's what he said. "Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."

Now, I don't know what that spawns for you, but that spawns two thoughts for me. The first is that I want that for my life and I hope you want that for your life. I want that for your life. "Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing."

It's often been pointed out that not all of America's workforce is highly engaged. My brother Tom has a fun way of putting this. He said, "If we're all in a canoe together paddling, and we have 10 of us, and we're each representing one-tenth of the American workforce, there are three people in the front paddling hard forward. 30% of America's workforce is engaged and excited and passionate about its work. The five people sitting behind them in the canoe are not paddling at all. They're just along for the ride. And then, unfortunately, there are one or two people in the back who are actively disengaged. That is, they're hostile to their own organization and, if you will, paddling backward."

Now, just imagine how much faster our canoes could move if all of us, or at least the majority of us, were paddling forward, and if you're visualizing at least five people paddling forward and nobody paddling backward, you're starting to see the kinds of companies that we invest in as Rule Breakers, because we're looking into the hearts of the companies of the stocks that we pick, and we're looking for places that people want to work and feel great about the work that [they're] doing.

So, thought No. 1 spawned by Theodore Roosevelt. I sure hope that's true of your work, and if it's not, I would encourage you to make whatever changes you can as rapidly as possible to get into a place where the work that you're doing is worth doing and you want to work hard at it because selfishly, I'm going to be a lot better off if that's true of you, just like you will of me, because we're co-creating value together and, in fact, we're paying taxes together. We're only paying taxes out of profits and salaries if we're employed. Everything is better, worldwide, when people have found the right work for them.

And then the second thought about that quote goes right back to the heart of Rule Breaker Investing. We're looking for companies that are doing important things in this world. The stocks that I'm picking -- the ones that we talk about in our five-stock samplers on this podcast -- if you're a stock market investor [and I sure hope you are], I hope some of these companies are in your portfolio. Think about what the work is worth doing and make sure your dollars are there.

Sometimes I've said, "Looking backward over the last 25 years are you able to say the big trends of my time -- the zeitgeists, the spirit of my age -- I had my money in those companies." Were you, let's say, 25 years ago invested in America Online, the decade that America came online? It was an amazing stock for quite a while there.

Or more recently as the whole world has shifted toward the internet, have you been invested in Netflix? And let's not even look backwards. How about going forwards? Do you think this is a company that's going to get bigger and add more and more value to the world over the next 20 years? I sure do think so. This should be true of as many of the companies as you look down your brokerage statement as possible. Ask, "Are they working hard at work worth doing?"

Genomics. Curing cancer. Making your home smarter. Artificial intelligence making the products and services around us better and better. Is this work worth doing and are you invested in it? I sure hope you are.

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