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Great Quotes, the Conscious Capitalism Edition: On the Boundaries We Set for Ourselves

By Motley Fool Staff - May 28, 2018 at 1:12PM

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The movement may be kind of new, but the ideas that underlie it are not.

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 aphorisms 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 taps the uncommon sense of Roz Brewer, an extremely successful businesswoman with what at first blush might seem like a somewhat counterintuitive suggestion on limits.

A full transcript follows the video.

This video was recorded on May 16, 2018.

David Gardner: All right, so our previous quote was about not allowing what we might call "false limits" to limit who and what you might be or become. This one is praising limits for a different reason. Here we go. This is from Roz Brewer, and I'll say a little bit more about her in a second.

Great Quote No. 5: "You can and should set your own limits and clearly articulate them. This takes courage, but it is also liberating and empowering, and often earns you new respect."

So, Dr. Mae Jemison telling us not to be limited by other people's limited imaginations, but Roz Brewer saying you can and should set your own limits and clearly articulate them. And I want to speak to both of those very briefly.

Many times, in the past, on Rule Breaker Investing, I have [I think "decried" might be a fair word], I have decried the lack of accountability within so much of the financial world, especially financial punditry. People on television constantly making new pronouncements about where the market's going, or where a certain stock is going up or down; and yet, nobody really keeping score.

I'm a big baseball fan. There's no financial punditry encyclopedia that I can consult and see how often this or that person is right or wrong. As a consequence, we have people constantly being quoted in the financial media and you really don't know if you're listening to Babe Ruth right now or Biff Johnson, a generic player who clearly wasn't as good at baseball as Babe Ruth.

Is it Babe Ruth or is it Biff Johnson? You can't tell because there's no scoring going on, and even if there were, there's no real reporting of that scoring. As a consequence, we're all living within a system where with no score being kept there's no self-correction happening. After all, when you start losing at anything and the results are being tabulated, you start to change your game and get better. And when you start winning, you start figuring out that you're winning and you can figure out why you're winning. Those are great things. Those are systems that are self-improving systems because systems that are self-improving have scoring going on and accountability.

Back to Roz Brewer. You can and should set your own limits; i.e., in my mind, score ourselves, whether we're talking about stock picking, or just personal predictions. Betting a friend. That's a good way to keep track of a prediction. Bet a friend ten bucks either way. You can and should set your own limits, and clearly articulate them. So, it takes guts, as she goes on to say. This takes courage, but it's also liberating and empowering and often earns you new respect.

I think about Motley Fool CAPS, an opportunity that you and I have to go online at and thumb a stock up or down because you believe that stock may beat or lose to the market averages. You can pick your time frame. You can pick your stock. It's a great way to start scoring whether your instincts are good or not about a given company, industry, or the market overall. And it's something that I love about The Motley Fool -- that we have -- and you and I can each hold ourselves accountable and see other people holding themselves accountable anytime they pick a stock, thumb up or thumb down, on CAPS.

Now Roz Brewer, I should mention in closing [if you don't recognize her] is an American businesswoman. She was the president and CEO of Sam's Club which is, of course, a division of Walmart Stores. Recently she moved companies. She's now the chief operating officer of a little global company you might recognize called Starbucks. In fact, she was the first woman and the first African-American to fill the role of a CEO at one of [the divisions] of Walmart Stores, and today Roz is the COO of Starbucks.

So, it takes courage -- doesn't it? -- but it also is liberating, empowering, and often earns you new respect, she says, and she's somebody who would understand that having earned the acclaim and respect that she has gained over the course of her business career.

You know, one thought in closing. I don't think we do a good enough job finding and celebrating great businesspeople. I think a lot of us recognize great athletes if we're sports fans, and there's a lot of acclaim and promotion behind great athletes.

I think a lot of us know the political leaders. You might like them, or you might not like them in your country or your neighborhood, but there's a lot of studying that we do of the politics of our country and history. History is often seen in political terms or military terms. A lot of memorizing of how this or that war started. Those are important things, and I certainly wouldn't want to skip that in my schoolboy learnings.

But I also believe there's a whole aspect of history and culture that is underplayed, both in academia and in popular culture; and that's just doing business really well. That's the great people that are behind the kinds of companies that we talk about, here, on Rule Breaker Investing, so I'm delighted to double underline the success of somebody like Roz Brewer, or to suggest, as I did recently to a friend who's an academic, "Hey, you know a great thing you could go into that doesn't seem like historians are going into nearly enough?" I said to this person, "corporate history."

I think in a country built on entrepreneurship, every schoolboy and schoolgirl should know the story of Apple Computer and how that came to be. Or Disney. Or Ford. Or any one of a number [Starbucks] of iconic American companies. Don't you think every school child should know five or 10 of these and be able to fairly easily [60 seconds] explain the history of this or that company and the people that are usually behind them?

I think that feels like an area of academia that is largely unexplored, so I'm putting out, right now, to future academics, that I think somebody should specialize on corporate histories, because you have a lot of blue sky around you without many people poking around, and I think that's some of the most exciting and interesting history that I've yet come across in my 52 years.

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