Dr. Seuss is one of the most-read authors in the English language -- it's virtually impossible that you've avoided The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham, or his other top-sellers. You either read them as a child, or you've read them to one (or you've done both). But his literary output was quite large, and some titles were second-tier in terms of popularity, so it's quite possible that you missed out on McElligot's Pool. If you did, you'll be wondering why Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner would pick a quote from that particular children's book for an investing podcast. Well, no spoilers -- you'll just have to listen to this segment of the Rule Breaker Investing "Great Quotes" episode to find out exactly what he and Mr. Geisel had in mind.
A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on Oct. 24, 2018.
David Gardner: Speaking of happy, I'm going to happily close, here, with one of my favorite quotations for Great Quotation No. 5. I should mention, by the way, even though I've kind of hailed back to a few previous podcasts when I used quotes; every one of these Great Quotes, Volume X podcasts has a unique set of around five quotations, so I'm never duplicating. Every one of them I hope will stand on their own.
So yes, I've saved one of my favorite quotations until now to end with this week's podcast and it's from Dr. Seuss, Theodor Geisel. How can you not? One of the most quotable people of my lifetime. How can you not love Dr. Seuss? And this one comes from McElligot's Pool.
It was pointed out to me by one of our Motley Fool members some years ago. He said, "Have you ever read McElligot's Pool?" and I said, "No, I've not." I've read a lot of the others -- Green Eggs and Ham -- of course. I'm not really a big fan of Oh, The Places You'll Go, by the way. I think a lot of people dearly, deeply love Oh, The Places You'll Go, but for me it's just a little threadbare. It meanders on and on. You'll go here and you'll go there and it's not as exciting to me.
I realize for some people it's a meaningful graduation gift that they receive or give, so I definitely don't want to rain on anybody's parade that's a "Seussian" parade, but I'm going to join the parade, here, and say beyond the big, popular books, I'm going to encourage you to take a look at McElligot's Pool, which starts this way, and here's Great Quotation No. 5: Great Quotation No. 5: "Young man," laughed the farmer, "you must be a fool!
You'll never catch fish In McElligot's Pool."
And why is that one of my favorite quotations from Dr. Seuss? Well, for two reasons. The first is, of course, it's a "fool" quote. It's there in my Fool and Folly quotations file on Evernote. This is one of my favorite "fool" quotes because, indeed, the farmer. Laughing.
I take that to be anybody who thinks you can't succeed in life. And for us, especially here at Fool HQ, we're surrounded by academia and a lot of people who think that you could never beat the stock market averages. You shouldn't bother fishing in that pool. You must be a fool because you're never going to catch winning stocks or beat the market in McElligot's Pool. So of course, the farmer laughing even motivates me. To think that the farmer was there with the little kid, laughing at the kid.
Guess what? No spoilers, but you can imagine that maybe the kid does catch fish in the Dr. Seuss story, McElligot's Pool. That's the way it starts. "Young man," laughed the farmer, "you must be a fool! You'll never catch fish In McElligot's Pool." So reason No. 1 I love this quote is that it's a great fool quote. It stands toe-to-toe with any Shakespearean fool quote, at least in my head.
But reason No. 2 is that it's a reminder for all of us [and this kind of keys to my point with Quotation No. 4], that the most satisfying wins we're going to have in life often happen when other people thought we couldn't do it. And I know a lot of you recognize that in your own lives. If you think about your peak moments, often it was that you were being doubted. People told you, you couldn't do it. And again, for us here at The Fool, we so strongly believe in the greatness of investing; the power of investing for you in your life and for our world at large.
You're right. I'm going to brand myself right here a conscious capitalist. Yes, I don't really like socialism, for example. There are aspects of socialism that I think are healthy and can be good, but anybody who tells me that business isn't great or picking great businesses won't succeed runs contrary to all of my life's experience and what I stand for, what our company stands for, and what we're here to help you with every week to think better about and act better about.
So when people tell you that you're a "fool" because of what you're about to do with your money or your business... Of course, if the farmer is very wise and a mentor of yours, you might want to listen hard, and lean in, and feel challenged by that; but often if it's just a farmer standing near a pool... I mean, it's not even like a fisherman was saying that to the kid [it was just a farmer], then I do encourage you to consider taking that risk and not be a post-middle-age person with regrets. So there's a little bit of Dr. Seuss to close.
And, in fact, one day I think I'm going to try to write one more investment book. We've written a lot in the past, but I feel like I have one more book in me. I've been saving quotes and thoughts, and observations about the stock market and if I ever do get around to finally writing that book, I'm pretty sure this will be an epigraph for that book. Might be the frontispiece. Might be right up front or might be there for a chapter, but I've subsequently found McElligot's Pool subsequent to writing some of our past books, so this is new material for me, even though it's old material to many Seuss fans.