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Investing Lessons From Basketball: the Wofford Terriers

By Motley Fool Staff – Updated Apr 16, 2019 at 8:06AM

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A lesson drawn from the coaching style of Wofford men’s basketball head coach Mike Young.

Wofford Basketball entered the 2019 NCAA tournament as the only team in Division 1 college basketball to go undefeated in conference play.

In the following excerpt from The Motley Fool's Industry Focus March Madness special, host Jason Moser names one coaching principle acclaimed head coach Mike Young employs that can be directly applied to improve your investing skills.

A full transcript follows the video.

This video was recorded on March 19, 2019.

Asit Sharma: Now, Wofford and their phenomenal coach Mike Young.

Jason Moser: Probably a little bit lesser known to the masses out there, but certainly, this is not his first rodeo, as they would say. This is his fifth tournament appearance in the NCAA. Fifth tournament championship in the Southern Conference. He's been at Wofford for I think a total of 30 years, head coach for 17. Nice little resume going there. This year, just won the Sporting News Coach of the Year. He's in the Naismith Coach of the Year, semifinalist. So, he's clearly had a very good year. He's been there for a while.

I've been researching him a little bit learning more about his philosophy and his approach. It really boils down to just a few simple ideals. He values community, he values being a part of a tight-knit community there. He values wins over dollars. When I heard that, when I read that, he values wins over dollars, let's look at this and think about it for what it is. Given his track record, he's had the opportunity to bail on Wofford before and go make more money somewhere else. He's just not done that. To be sure, he's not one of the higher-paid coaches out there by virtue of where he works. They just don't have that kind of money to throw at coaches regardless of the records, what they've done, how long they've been there. So, clearly, he's walking the walk and talking the talk. He does value community over moving around and finding the best situation for the most dollars. It does seem like he stands up to what he says there.

When I look at that and I take that to the investing world, how many times do we see management teams make decisions to chase the almighty dollar? Make those short-term-focused decisions to meet or beat expectations or change the financial picture a little bit, boost that earnings-per-share number to meet Wall Street's expectations there, keep the stock going for another quarter or whatever? We don't invest that way here. We take a longer-term approach. We look at these management teams and the businesses that they're building and we look for that language in those conference calls when they talk about making decisions with years in mind as opposed to quarters.

Mike Young just strikes me, that seems to be why he's been so successful over the years at Wofford. And he's been there for a long time. He's focused on being a part of a family, a tight-knit community. And really, yeah, he values wins over dollars. If it was the other way around, he wouldn't be there. I think that's a very powerful message. When you can communicate that to your players year in and year out -- and he's at a school where players tend to stay for four years -- you can build some really great teams around that type of mentality. It seems to be working for him. As a Wofford graduate, I say, thanks, Coach Young. Keep up the great work. I have to tell you, as an investor, I'm not surprised that's working out for him. When we apply that same philosophy to the businesses that we follow here at The Fool, we tend to see some pretty good investing results, too.

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