In this episode of Rule Breaker Investing, David Gardner dives through the mailbag to answer some of your investment questions. This episode's topics include how to invest during the novel coronavirus outbreak, when to go for dividend stocks, how to use tax-gain harvesting, what a supernova is, Motley Fool work culture at the company's beginning, and many more great topics.

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This video was recorded on Feb. 26, 2020.

David Gardner: Investing during a coronavirus. Is it time for dividend stocks? Motley Fool culture at the start of it all. And what's a supernova? All these topics and more, with my regular rotation of guest stars to help, it must be mailbag week on this week's Rule Breaker Investing.

I'd just like to ask a small favor of you. We don't have any big ad this week for this podcast, but we are taking a survey of our listeners. And I'd love it if you would help us out and participate. No matter how long you've been a listener or how frequently you listen to this show, it's a quick survey, it's anonymous. I realize for some of us our pet peeve is taking surveys. So ironically, I'm sharing this with you this particular week. But this one is really quick. So if you have a few minutes, we'd really appreciate it. It helps us understand who's listening to our shows and that helps grow our business, as we think about what are the most appropriate advertisements that we could share with you from one week to the next. Plus, we just like to learn more about who's listening and our fellow Fools. So if you can help us out, we'd really appreciate that. There's going to be a link to that in the show notes.

And welcome back to Rule Breaker Investing. A delight to have you with me this week. The market has been volatile. Usually, when people say the market's volatile, they mean it went down. Rarely do I hear people when the market is rising, which is a more normal state of affairs. That's why the market goes from the bottom left to the upper right of any graph over any meaningful period of time, it tends to go up. But we usually, when it starts going down, we start saying, "The market's been volatile." So the market has been volatile and I want to speak to that a little bit coming up this week.

But, of course, it's our regular mailbag week, and what a month it was, February 2020. We started with a "Blast from the Past Volume 3," where I actually went all the way back to 2015 and just pulled out some of my favorite points made in years past, because I wanted to make sure I bring them back into the present, not under the assumption that everybody was listening back in 2015, and getting, what I think of, as some of our most important seminal material. So I tried to bring it all together for you in "Blast from the Past Volume 3," to start the month.

Then we had "Blast from the Radio Past," the next week with my brother Tom Gardner and our producer Mac Greer, listening to some of the great clips from Motley Fool audio of yore. And then a Review-A-Palooza: 2 Five-Stock Sampler Reviews. A delight to deliver that last week, and that, of course, brings us now to this week and mailbag.

I hope you've listened to this podcast for months, maybe years, and in that case, you know what to expect: a Motley array of your questions, our best answers. It used to be my best answers, until somewhere about a year into the show, maybe somewhere in the summer of 2016, I started realizing Mailbag is better when I have friends in to help me answer questions and it creates a lively environment, which I'm looking forward to once again this week.

Now, usually before we get into it, I like to read off a few tweets. Of course, we're @RBIPodcast on Twitter. You know this, you tweet us. And I just want to share a little bit of the sense of things, three tweets that came through this week. One of them is from Jason Newman, our friend @Jnew4. Jason, thanks for writing in. You're speaking about our "Blast from the Radio Past" episode, where we go back into the deep vault of audio gold to listen to past interviews. We had Mister Rogers, we had Dr. Ruth, we had Jeff Bezos, Reed Hastings. So much fun, and Mac puts in so much effort there to produce that show, when we bring it out once or twice a year. Of course, having my brother Tom, always special to join in with us.

So Jason, you're writing, "Great show indeed." You tweeted, "Nice to see and hear Mac receive the public recognition, if not the dollars that he rightfully deserves." And, yes, we often make light of Mac's salary. I couldn't even actually tell you what Mac's salary. I hope it's a living wage; I'm pretty sure it is, because he's been at the company for 20 years or so. But I think it's a fairly standard joke that Mac is clearly underpaid at this company. And there probably should be a small movement, that if it ever started, would start in the public, wouldn't start here at the company, but start in the public. "Pay Mac More" "Pay Mac More." Thank you, Jason.

A bunch of tweets in about, well, Tesla (TSLA -2.76%). And why not? I mean, what an incredible move the stock has made. It was at about $250 a share in August of last year, it had barely moved for about five years. It had just gone sideways from 2013 through '18. Stock market was pretty good from 2013 through '18. If you were holding ticker symbol TSLA, and if you'd bought somewhere in 2013, you were wondering, "Will this stock ever go up?" Well, guess what, the answer was yes.

So from August, when it was standing around $250, pretty much a straight dash up with, yup, some volatility too, to about $900 a share in less than a year. More than a three-bagger. A tremendous move.

So @Kurtilia rights, "Thanks for this, David. And speaking as one who bought in 2011, based on your recommendation." Yup, we're having Rule Breakers for nine years now. "And then doubled and tripled down in the mid-thirties in 2012." Well done, Kurt. Kurt goes on, "I'm so glad I tuned out the noise during the interim. Just one question: Why had most of The Motley Fool analysts been so down on Tesla?"

Well, I can't really speak to that Kurt. I didn't actually realize that most, in your words, of The Motley Fool analysts have been down on it. You know that we encourage all of our analysts to think for themselves, and there's never a party line here at The Motley Fool. So you might see JPMorgan put out strong buy on this stock or a hold on that one, and that would be JPMorgan's viewpoint. We're different here at The Motley Fool. We encourage Motley. We encourage many different opinions. So even if I love a stock like Tesla, it doesn't mean our new analyst, who might be working for me, needs to like it at all. So we try to provide all viewpoints and help you -- I realize for a lot of people new to The Motley Fool, they're like, "Ah! Yeah but, what should I actually think, guys? You're leaving me on the horns of a dilemma." And I certainly understand that viewpoint.

Although, to make it clear. Kurt, I know you're a member of Motley Fool Rule Breakers, so that is where you're paying us for our advice through an advisory service that we offer here at The Fool. So you know and have known my nine-year opinion of Tesla. And any member of Rule Breakers or Stock Advisor, any of The Motley Fool services, you should have no question about what the advice is that you're getting from us, it's right there in your service. But, of course, on free podcasts and an array of them, you're going to hear lots of different voices.

And then how about our website, where we have hundreds of contractors who write market articles every day, and these contractors write for us from across the world. In fact, we have more contractors than we have employees. So we have created a large community of people who think about and love the stock market, and have lots of different opinions.

So I know for sure what The Motley Fool's opinion of Tesla is, and that is that there isn't one. I know my opinion about Tesla, and that is that I'm darn glad to have held the stock for as long as we have. And what a great run it's been.

Last tweet I'll read out is @BarronofErin. There's a little bit of foreshadowing in this one, unintended by BarronofErin. BarronofErin writes, "While I'm late to the Tesla show and individual stock investing, I just started March 2018. Tesla may be my first spiffy-pop. Thanks again for all you do."

Well, thank you BarronofErin. I hope that any regular listener of the show knows that spiffy-pop is when you make more money in a single day with a stock then you paid for it when you first bought it. That's a celebration moment for all of us, especially you never forget your first, as I have often said. And as the person who kind of came up with the idea of a spiffy-pop, I'm always delighted to hear back from anybody across the internet globally, maybe even one day outside just this planet, maybe throughout the solar system, spiffy-pops and talk about them could start raining down from Pluto and Neptune right down to Mercury; if anybody really wants to get anywhere near Mercury.

Anyway, thank you very much for sharing that, BarronofErin. And the reason that's foreshadowing is because I'm going to have my friend Aaron Bush in -- I don't know if he's a baron -- but he's going to be joining us a little later to talk a little bit more about spiffy-pops.

And before we enter the realm of the Rule Breaker mailbag items, I didn't get any specific emails about this, but I know it's on everybody's mind, and of course, I'm thinking about the coronavirus. I want to just speak to that briefly up front. That's not the theme of this week's Mailbag, and if you know The Motley Fool and you know how we think about investing, we are playing the long game. So even things that are unsettling and rocking the headlines, we try not to pay too much attention to them. But I want to say two things before we move on.

First of all, it's a human tragedy. And since it's a tragedy, I think it's really sad. It's possible sometimes, especially for those of us in the United States of America, not yet mostly affected, to think, "Well, you know, that's sad for China and that's half a world away." But that's sad. The Chinese are our fellow humans, and to see that the World Health Organization says there are 77,000 confirmed cases in China as of yesterday, February 24, 2,445 deaths. That's 2,445 deaths.

And sometimes we hear, "Well, it's actually older people, they succumb more likely, it's not kids or it's not people in their prime." Well, that's really sad too. That's somebody else's grandparent, that somebody's mom or dad. And sometimes it is younger people. So it's possible to feel as if, well, it's not really near me and it's not really affecting me, but it's affecting all of us. Everything is connected, and anything that kills a few thousand people, that's a huge headline any day of the week. And for that to be a rolling story that no doubt is ongoing is deeply sad.

So that's the most important thing that I wanted to say about the coronavirus. It's real. It continues to move around the world. I hope it doesn't do too much more damage, and a lot of people are working to stop that. We're also all human. So we're all going to die someday, somehow. We each hope that it will be in the best circumstances with the longest, best lives we can all live. And I vote for that.

From an investment standpoint, since I kind of led off with that, and I think you'd expect us to say something about that here at The Motley Fool, I just want to say, it doesn't change my approach. I personally have made a lifetime commitment to our stock market as an investor. So I really am -- I hope you are -- playing the long game. How the stock market does this week, this quarter, this year is not going to change how I do -- I hope how we do what we do. Certainly, if you're right near retirement or you need the money that you're investing to live on, you should already be making plans to transition into income investing and these other ways to secure your financial future, if you're nearer the end of your tether. But for those of us in the middle of our tether or earlier on in life, you shouldn't allow even scary things like human tragedies to shake you or your money out of the market. You're going to do far better if you patiently keep adding money.

The biggest question isn't should I sell or should I get out before a downdraft in the market because of coronavirus? The biggest question most of us should be asking is, am I saving enough on my next salary check, and where am I going to put that money now, maybe at a discount? And you should be thinking that every two weeks. That's the approach that we've always promoted here at The Motley Fool. That's what we live by. We're all in different circumstances, we're in different countries around the world with different risk tolerances at different points in our lives. So your mileage may vary, and if it does, make sure that it's appropriate to you and who you are, but for the most part, our Foolish way of investing in what we do here at Rule Breaker Investing, really, I try not to allow even bigger stories that dominate the headlines for a month or a year to change where my money is invested or how I'm doing, and I hope that's true of you too.

Alright, let's get started, shall we? Rule Breaker Investing podcast mailbag item No. 1. this month from Russ King. Thank you, Russ. "David, I love your podcast. I'm a longtime Fool One member." That means, by the way, that Ross owns all our services, that's what Motley Fool One is, it's the all-you-can-eat for people who really love investing maybe even more than I love investing. So I hope that's true of you Russ. Thank you for this note. "I hear advice from time to time that has me puzzled. One of the analysts will say something like, 'I don't know if I would be a buyer at this level, but I would hold on to shares if you already own it.' I've heard this advice after a big move up or a big move down or a big piece of news about a company. Is there any difference between buying a stock today and holding a stock today? It seems to me they're exactly the same from a financial standpoint, emotionally there may be a difference, but isn't that an emotion we should try to overcome? I would love to hear a discussion about this. Thanks for all the wonderful advice The Motley Fool has provided for getting me to the edge of financial independence. Fool on!"

Thank you, Russ. And as you might imagine, Russ, you are kind of preaching to the choir a little bit here, because I do think you're on to a good point. I think there are two states of stockholding. One, you hold the stock. Two, you do not hold the stock. And for the most part, those are the only states that count. Now, for our services for Motley Fool Stock Advisor and for Rule Breakers, as I've talked about over the years, each of the stocks that I have under recommendation in those services I think of as active recommendations. So that means, whether I picked that stock three and a half years ago or three months ago, if you're joining the service today and you'd like to consider buying, I'm saying, "Yes, go ahead and buy it." We do put a penalty box in place to take some of our less favorite stocks that are presently under active recommendation, maybe we have some questions about a change in CEO or there's some news in its industry, so we pull those off the ice -- using a hockey metaphor -- and put them in the penalty box. So there are some stocks in the services that we don't actively recommend, but otherwise, pretty much all the stocks out there, I'm saying, "Yes, feel free to go ahead and buy some shares today."

So it seems to me you're right, Russ, you either own a stock or you don't own the stock. And I think the biggest difference between owning that stock, as a -- we would say -- a strong buy, let's say, or just as a hold, might be whether you're looking to add more shares of that company. So if you get another $1,000 in your salary next week, would you just keep holding -- let's say, McCormick, the spices company -- that stock or would you take some of that $1,000 and put it into more McCormick shares? And, for me, most of that decision comes down to your overall portfolio consideration. It's not so much for me about, McCormick "yes" or "no." You already own some after all. It's do you have the right amount, do you have the full allocation you want for McCormick? Or would you like to keep buying more McCormick? So I think a lot of the consideration simply comes down to the portfolio you're managing. With all the stocks, presumably, in your portfolio green-lighted, there might be some stocks you have a question about or in your mind they might be in your penalty box as well.

But, yes, to close, Russ, I do think that most of the talk about, you know, "I don't know, if I'd be a buyer at this level, but I'd hold on to shares," it does sound a little mealy-mouthed to me. I think, basically you're owning the shares and probably you should want to be buying more unless you're overallocated, because after all, if you wouldn't want to buy more shares of that stock, should you keep holding it, don't you think it's going up?

All right, Rule Breaker mailbag item No. 2. And it's dividend stock time. In fact, we don't really have a jingle or a tune previously ever shared with our listenership on the show around dividend investing, but, Rick, why don't you go ahead and roll out 8 to 10 seconds of our new dividend theme song.


All right. And laughing along with me, and Rick's wonderful choice there, is my friend Buck Hartzell. Buck, welcome back to Rule Breaker Investing.

Buck Hartzell: Thank you, David, I appreciate it. It's great to be here once again.

David Gardner: Thank you, and thank you for being the first guest star of this particular Mailbag. Now, Buck, can you briefly share what you do here at The Motley Fool?

Hartzell: Yeah, sure. I'm an analyst here, and like most people, I pick stocks across a variety of different services here. I mostly specialize in Canada. And the Canadians actually love dividends. So a lot of our picks there are dividend-paying stocks, so.

David Gardner: And the reason that I have you back for this mailbag, Buck, as you well know, is because last time, we started to dangle out there, to our listenership, the idea that we might actually have just one episode dedicated to dividends on Rule Breaker Investing.

Hartzell: Right. And I thought, I hadn't heard anything, David, I was kind of waiting every day and expecting a message or a Slack or something. And I hadn't heard back, and I'm like, "This poll did not resonate with the Rule Breakers Investing community." [laughs]

David Gardner: And yet you now know that you were wrong about that, Buck. I thought you were already watching the poll. It was a live poll on Twitter. We did get a lot of votes. And should David invite Buck Hartzell back on for a Rule Breaker Investing podcast this spring to discuss dividend investing? The three answers were "yes," "no," or "Polls are my pet peeve." We should go over these in reverse order. First of all, 9.5% of respondents did say that polls are a pet peeve of theirs. And I can understand that.

Hartzell: I can understand that too; there's a lot of polls out there.

David Gardner: There are. And so we were contributing to that. At the same time, the next least popular answer was "no." Only 13% of people said no. Just 3% more than are annoyed by polls themselves, which means, Buck, 77% of the people want a dividend investing Rule Breaker Investing podcast episode.

Hartzell: Right. And of that 13% probably 80% of those were friends and family of myself. [laughs] So thank you, everyone else, for voting positively.

David Gardner: Absolutely. So we are nothing if we're not listening to the vox populi. We easily pander and just listen to what we think people are telling us to say or do. And so we hear you, listener base. And so, Buck, you've graciously accepted the invitation to come back in March.

Hartzell: Yes.

David Gardner: And do one episode on dividend investing.

Hartzell: Pulse on the people. We'll talk about some dividend stocks.

David Gardner: I love it. We got a bunch of people writing, and I'm just going to read one of them. From Sandy: "Hi, David, I absolutely love your podcast and your services. You recently proposed doing a podcast on dividend investing. Please do! That would be fabulous. I've been a member since 2001. Thanks to all the Fools and your advice, my husband and I are ready to retire. I never realized how helpful dividend investing could be until we began to contemplate how best to balance and manage our portfolio in retirement, with the market potentially 'overvalued' now, and to be ready for the normal ups-and-downs of the market over a long retirement, it seems some dividend stocks could help us weather the lows and stretch our portfolio. Thanks so much for all you do. Fool on!"

Sandy, thank you for writing in. And, Buck, I don't know, are we going to be able to nail that for Sandy?

Hartzell: I hope so. Sure. I think her statements really resonate. I mentioned before I think on a previous podcast that I manage my father's investments. And he had zero bonds in his portfolio, and I think we're at a time right now of really historically low interest rates for those people that are going in or entering retirement. And they're looking at, "I'm supposed to live off 2% yields? That's a little difficult to do." And when you have some good dividend-paying stocks out there, some yielding -- you know, the S&P is yielding 1.8% right now. But I think there's some really quality stocks yielding quite a bit higher than that. And in that episode, I think we point out some of those. And I don't think, they don't show up on the Dividend Aristocrats list. So you know I think we can find some stocks that we like even better.

David Gardner: That sounds like a lot of fun. So Buck, would you come back on March 11 for that?

Hartzell: March 11, you know, I'd love to, but my daughter is going to be in Florida and we're going to be there supporting her as they go for a national bid for the Volleyball National Tournament. So we'll be at the Sunshine Classic down in Orlando watching three days of volleyball.

David Gardner: Is this high school?

Hartzell: This is club volleyball, so 17s Metro Volleyball Club, which -- a little shout-out to Metro here in the D.C. region.

David Gardner: Wow! We can ball.

Hartzell: That's right, you might not have known, one of, I think, six clubs in the entire country that had four teams qualify for open nationals last year, the 18s, 17s, 16s, and 15s, which is pretty impressive. Only six clubs in the country, so they're going to be trying to qualify once again.

David Gardner: That's remarkable, Buck. And what is your daughter's name? And what is her strongest strength out there on the volleyball pitch?

Hartzell: Parker, and she's both a really good blocker and a good hitter. So she's going to hopefully score points and shut down the other team's best hitters.

David Gardner: So I've had a new thought, Buck. We shouldn't do March 11. How about March 18.

Hartzell: That won't work, unless we're going on location.

David Gardner: That would be amazing. We don't have the budget.

Hartzell: Yeah, March 18. That sounds --

David Gardner: Great. Okay. March 18. Lock it down, my fellow Fools. Buck and maybe a few others will be here, a merry band, to discuss income investing a little bit more broadly than just dividends, but dividend stocks too.

Hartzell: Yeah, absolutely. That sounds great.

David Gardner: Thanks, Buck.

Hartzell: Yeah. Okay. You're welcome. I look forward to coming back.

David Gardner: Rule Breaker mailbag item No. 3. This one comes from Matt Chandler. Thanks for writing in, Matt. "Attention, David Gardner ... " this is embarrassing, " ... the GOAT; Tom Gardner, the silent partner; Bill Barker, the smartest guy in the room; Chris Hill, hostess with the mostest; and Jason Moser, basket case." Matt goes on. "First, allow me to explain, the perhaps arbitrary nicknames. DG is the GOAT because, well, isn't it obvious, look at the stock picks of his career." That's very kind of you, Matt. Let's go on though. "TG is not heard from much on podcast ... " which is true, although we're starting to correct that, " ... so, thus the silent partner. However, of course, as the CEO and co-founder, he's obviously vital to all success had by The Motley Fool." And that's true, Matt, nobody more so.

"BB, that would be, Bill Barker, seemingly always the smartest guy in the room to me, his intellect, education, and unique sense of humor is on display each time he appears on Market Foolery. Chris Hill is simply great at driving a podcast. And when he and Bill Barker get together, you get podcast gold. And Jason Moser is the king of baskets and has helped many a Fool with his baskets that he's put together. Now for the meat and potatoes: thank you for changing my life. Years ago, I wanted to learn how to invest after some early mistakes buying penny stocks, selling too early, etc. I stumbled across David's Rule Breaker Investing podcast. It truly changed my life. FYI, I've been there since your very first episode."

Well, thank you, Matt. That's since July of 2015. "I was a mailman and spent most of my time listening to sports podcasts, until the day I discovered it via a simple search in iTunes. I now regularly listen to all Motley Fool podcasts each day. It has become my passion and gives me inexplicable excitement. I cannot wait until new podcasts are posted and paydays arrive to move money into my brokerage account. The knowledge I've gained is simply invaluable. I cannot put a number on it. For years, I listened and digested the information and applied it to my portfolio, I got to the point that I felt like I was stealing from you all due to all the free information, so I signed up for Stock Advisor. I haven't bought a lot thus far from Stock Advisor, but I have bought a few like Zynga. However, other stocks I have been turned on to from various podcasts, like Zoom, Editas, MasterCard, DocuSign have done quite well for me. Thank you for making me smarter, happier, and richer. Please never stop, because you will undoubtedly reach another person like me and change their life as well. Finally, can someone from Industry Focus please explain the recent run-up in Ballard Power? It's one of my best performers of late with seemingly little news to justify it. Thanks again, Matt Chandler."

Well, Matt, in reverse order, let me tell you that, I don't usually cover individual stocks from one podcast to the next other than the ones I pick and all the reviews, like the Review-a-Palooza that we did earlier this month, but I've asked Nick Sciple, who is the host for Industry Focus, in energies and industrials podcast, would he cover Ballard Power sometime in March? Nick said, yes. So Matt, I know you already know Industry Focus, because you listen to all the podcasts; and thank you very much for that. Of course, this is all sided desk for each of us here at The Motley Fool. Even my producer Rick Engdahl is a jack of all trades doing four or five different things. So please know that we do this out of love. We just love doing it for you. It is free. And we do listen to the people, whether it's a dividend investing episode for Rule Breaker Investing or in this case Ballard Power. Nick Sciple, our host, said he will cover that sometime in March. So listen [to] Nick and anybody else interested in that interesting alternative energy company.

All right. Rule Breaker mailbag item No. 4. Oh, my gosh! Is it The Motley Fool Answers team in studio? This is remarkable. I'm so glad to have Alison Southwick and Robert Brokamp. Now, I'm going to guess, Alison and Robert, that the majority of Rule Breaker Investing podcast listeners also listen to Motley Fool Answers, know of Answers. I just read a previous item from somebody who listens to all of our podcasts, Matt. So he definitely knows you. But I also would imagine that maybe, I'll say a third of my listeners don't regularly listen to or know Answers, and so I want to just spend a minute or two before we get to this mailbag item explaining who you are and what you do.

Alison, would you graciously consent to go first? Who are you and what do you do?

Alison Southwick: Sure. What do I do here? So I'm Alison Southwick. I've been at The Fool for about 10 years now. And I started on The Fool doing external communications, PR, and then about, I don't know, five years into my job, I was like, I really want to do a podcast with two people in particular, Robert Brokamp and Dayana Yochim, and I want Rick Engdahl to edit it. And I basically strong-armed them into -- this is how I remember it -- strong-armed them into doing a podcast. [laughs]

Robert Brokamp: [laughs] My arm still hurts.

Southwick: I wanted it to be more about helping get people started investing, getting to the point where they're ready to invest, so that then we can sort of hand them off to shows like yours and to Market Foolery and Industry Focus. And so that's where we are. This next upcoming episode, Ron Gross is on the show, he's going to help us answer some questions as well. And he let us know that we were the weird one, we are the weird show. [laughs] I don't know, were those his exact words?

Brokamp: Laid back, a little quirky maybe.

Southwick: He's like, you guys have fun. And we're like, OK. We took it as a compliment.

David Gardner: So thank you, Alison. And Alison has been here 10 years. She still looks fairly young to me.

Southwick: Thank you.

Brokamp: [laughs] Especially compared to me.

David Gardner: And in this room she looks especially young. Robert, how long have you been in The Motley Fool? Longer than I have?

Brokamp: [laughs] Almost. Almost. 20.5 years now.

David Gardner: That is so awesome. Thank you. And you've overseen Rule Your Retirement, you co-host Answers with Alison, you've been active on our 401(k) plan team here at The Motley Fool. You are the informal, probably, but in some cases, formal money spirit guide to many of our employees. They're like, "Hey, Robert, would you go out for a coffee?"

Brokamp: Yes, I am the money shaman. Yes, thank you very much.

David Gardner: You are the money shaman. Okay.

Brokamp: Yes. I'm a certified financial planner practitioner. I do answer Fool questions, if they have any financial questions. I help run our Financial Health Day that we do every year. So really on Answers, we do talk individual stocks, but really what we talk about is everything else related to money.

Southwick: And he burns a lot of sage to help clean our financial juju, as the shaman, right?

David Gardner: Wow! I didn't have any good comeback there, Alison. We'll just leave that sage burn in the air. So I'm not even sure I really know the smell of burnt sage.

Brokamp: I'm not sure either. [laughs]

David Gardner: All right. So here it comes. This is a multiple-time correspondent to this mailbag. And I love featuring Derrick, because he's a college student and I really love it. The earlier people find out about money and investing and ask questions like the one I'm about to present, the happier I know all of us here at The Motley Fool get. So thank you, Derrick Bane, for writing in. "I'm currently a junior in college at Clemson University." I need to pause it right there, so my own alma mater, the University of North Carolina, recently lost to Clemson in men's basketball on our home floor, that was for the first time in history, it used to be called "the streak," we were 59-0, and that all came tumbling down just a few weeks ago.

Southwick: Sorry. Do you want us to give Derrick bad advice to get back at him? We'll do that.

David Gardner: I actually really like Derrick. I really like Derrick. But I'm just saying, props to you, Derrick, and your school. You may not even care about college basketball, not everybody does, but anyway, we'll keep going. "I have a retail brokerage account," Derrick says, "that I have some stock in, about $3,000. Looking at the tax rate schedules, the long-term capital gains tax for people with a taxable income of under $39,375 is 0%. That being said, at the end of this year, would it be smart to sell off all of my long-term capital gains in order to lock in the 0% tax before I get a full-time job next year?" Because after all Derrick is a junior in college. "Assuming his salary is $40,000 or more," he says, "could I immediately buy the stock back or would there be a wash-sale rule even though it's a gain. Thank you for the help. I love the show. Derrick." Thank you, Derrick.

Now, before I open it up to Robert and Alison, I want to mention, this is a great question for Motley Fool Answers. Derrick, I'm not so great myself at tax-based questions. And really, the purpose of Rule Breaker Investing is we're the weird one.

Southwick: What?! You're not the weird one.

David Gardner: You basically are pretty straight up. You're, like, answering everybody's questions about money and getting people to start investing. I like to talk about investing philosophy in business and games and life. And so, I want Derrick to know, if he doesn't already, that Motley Fool Answers is probably the best example we have at The Fool of a podcast that will just take any question about money.

And I've got this talented team here to tackle yours. I'll turn to Robert first. Robert, what are your thoughts here, just directly for the young man?

Brokamp: Well, my first thought is Derrick is very smart. He is highlighting something that a very few people are aware of: tax gains harvesting. So he is absolutely right. And the number he actually gave was for 2019. In 2020, if you're single and you have a taxable income under $40,000 or married and taxable income of under $80,000, your long-term capital gains are zero, and that's your taxable income. So you start with your gross income and you take the standard deduction, which is $12,400 for singles, $22,800 for married. So when you have a country with a median household income of about $65,000, there's a lot of people who are eligible to do this.

So what you do is you sell, let's say, Derrick, for example, bought this stock for $1,500. It's now worth $3,000. He sells it. He does not pay any capital gains on that gain. He can buy it back immediately, there is no 30-day --

David Gardner: What a boon for young people, especially.

Brokamp: Yes.And he resets his cost basis. So that when he eventually does sell in the future, that $1,500 capital gain he realized, he'll never pay taxes on it. The only caution I would give to you is, just be aware of how it might affect other income-based financial parts of your life. For example, this will count as income on his tax return. It may affect his financial aid the following year. Some people have income-based repayment plans for student loans. Some people get subsidies from the Affordable Care Act for healthcare based on their income. So in Derrick's case, it's probably not a big deal, but before you do a lot of selling, just be aware of how it might affect other aspects of your finances. And also, you can't do unlimited selling and not pay taxes at some point, selling may push you into the point where you do pay 15% on your long-term capital gains. So you want to stay underneath those thresholds.

David Gardner: All right. Now when I was mentioning to Robert and Alison, that I was going to feature Derrick's question and wanted to have you both in, Alison, you're like, "Hey, I'm not going to ... that's all Bro."

Southwick: I just do whatever Bro says, I would never disagree with him. So yes, ditto.

Brokamp: At least about taxes. There are plenty of other things.

Southwick: Other things, definitely disagree, but if it comes to money. No. Hi back, Bro."

David Gardner: How about this, surely, at some point in your junior year in college, Alison, you had an insightful thought that would be relevant to other college juniors. You thought about the future or something that was happening on campus, maybe it was your senior year, but I bet you have a final thought for Derrick just about college.

Southwick: All right, Derrick, I got some advice for you. You can take it to the rest of your life if you want. And I did realize, as someone in college: You will never be the smartest person in the room or the best-looking person in the room, but you can always be the kindest person in the room. So there you go, Derrick.

Brokamp: That's good. I like that one. So when Alison started at The Fool, she took advantage of the ability to be able to talk to me just about finances. She brought in her husband.

David Gardner: The whole shaman thing with the burning sage.

Brokamp: Yes. She brought in her husband, and I could tell within, like, 10 minutes, they're going to be solid, because they are on the same page when it comes to finances. So that's my advice for Derrick. If and when you get married, find someone who is as good with money as you are and you're going to be OK.

David Gardner: Boy, that alignment seems really important. And we're all different and we will sometimes not share the same financial viewpoint, but getting aligned as quickly as possible --

Brokamp: You need most of it. No one will be 100% on the same page, but if you can be 60%, 70%, you're going to be all right.

David Gardner: Thank you very much, Alison and Robert. A delight to have you with this cameo for our Rule Breaker Investing podcast. And I know everybody is enjoying you all on Motley Fool Answers. You also do a mailbag episode every month. Keep up the great work.

Brokamp: Thank you.

Southwick: Thank you.

Rick Engdahl: I just had to throw in here that I think you're both the weird one. Both of you. I should know.

Brokamp: It's the producer's fault.

David Gardner: Only Rick would know.

Engdahl: And also, Alison, are you going to ask these people for postcards or what?

Southwick: Oh, yeah, we didn't get any postcards last month. We ask our listeners to send in postcards from their travels, and we have hundreds, maybe thousands of postcards right now. Maybe send in some to David so he doesn't feel so lonely.

David Gardner: Well, nobody has to do that. We are 2000 Duke St., Alexandria, Virginia. What's our --

Southwick: 22314.

David Gardner: 22314. All right. Rule Breaker mailbag item No. 5. And oh, my golly, it's my brother Tom Gardner! Tom, awesome to have you back.

Tom Gardner: Whenever you ask me to be somewhere, I go there.

David Gardner: I wish that were true. If it were true, I would probably, arguably start to abuse it.

Tom Gardner: Can I tell you something? It is true, you just haven't maybe known it. So now we can see how you use that.

David Gardner: Oh, that's awesome, Tom. Thank you.

Tom Gardner: I mean, the last one you invited me to was the Conscious Capitalism gathering in D.C. and the opportunity to be up there interviewing John Mackey, and you had more than 500 people. I think it was the largest regional gathering of Conscious Capitalism. It was your first ever in D.C., so.

David Gardner: It was awesome. And thank you, Tom. And that was a remarkable event.

Tom Gardner: It's like my college housemate Jill Furman, whenever she asked me to invest in anything and she asked me to invest in a show that then gave me an opportunity to invest in Hamilton, so I just say yes to Jill and I say yes to you, and good things happen.

David Gardner: Yeah. That's amazing. Well, I know good things are going to happen. And this is a fun question from [Caroline] Smith. It could be [Carolyn]. I'm going to go Caroline. I realize they're two schools of thought on this --

Tom Gardner: I'm going with CS.

David Gardner: Okay, let's go CS. "Hi, David, I love when you have Kara and Lee on the podcast to talk about your corporate culture and all the cool things that they think about and do to create such a culture and to keep improving on it. Recently I heard Kara alone on Answers and loved that too. Curious to know what kind of corporate culture you and your brother talked about having before you started your company? Where did culture fit into the conversation when you were talking about what you wanted your hypothetical company to look like in this area?"

She goes on, "Because I believe culture always comes from the top, especially in founder-led companies. And my experience is that founders are much more conscious of and intentional about culture than most other leaders who ascent to the job, especially if they're not coming from within."

She closes, "So I'd love to get some insight into how this corporate culture began to take shape when you started the company. Were there any absolute deal breakers or must haves when it came to establishing corporate culture for the two of you? What kind of person were you looking for to head up your people department when you were hiring?"

Is this all just a long way of CS applying for a job here at The Fool.

Tom Gardner: I hope so.

David Gardner: Is this a cover letter?

Tom Gardner: We welcome that application.

David Gardner: All right. "Was there a company or companies that you had in mind that you wanted to model The Fool after? I'd love to hear all about that. Thanks so much, CS."

Tom Gardner: I learned from one of my college professors that a great way to answer a question when you get, is just to start with a number and then try to feed that number. So I have four things for CS. I have four things for Caroline/Carolyn. The first is that neither of us really had a very serious job before we started the company. I was in graduate school; you had worked at Louis Rukeyser's newsletter for about a year. I had been a summer camp counselor; I had worked in a bookstore. Did you have any other jobs besides Rukeyser?

David Gardner: No, I had fun college friends that we ended up hiring, which is where maybe you're headed with this --

Tom Gardner: Also, I will say with your Morehead scholarship, you did have summer jobs, you were at Solomon Brothers, and I think you learned a few things you didn't want to do there.

David Gardner: Well, that's true.

Tom Gardner: And then I think you were the volunteer in the police force at Rochester, New York.

David Gardner: You remember my past way too well, Tom. That was a remarkable summer.

Tom Gardner: I think you were honor-bound and you had a long outdoor run that you had to do and all the variety of things there with the incredible Morehead scholarship from the University of North Carolina. But I'll say, neither of us really had a significant job, but we did have experiences in the classroom and summer camp. And in grade schools, we were incredibly fortunate to get a great education. And I think there's academic data to show that if you enjoy being around your teacher, you learn more. So I think if you enjoy being around your company, you learn more, you grow more, your company succeeds. So we wanted to create an environment that we were going to enjoy and that anyone was going to enjoy. So that's sort of placeholder No. 1. I think that that should be true for every company when you're starting, but maybe it isn't, maybe somebody is setting up financial statements and goals and targets and all the rest. We really weren't doing that, we were just trying to have jobs ourselves that we loved and create jobs for other people that they loved. So that would be point 1.

Point No. 2. Our business is studying other companies to recommend for investment. And so every business we study has a best practice of some sort -- or maybe a set of worst practices that we want to do the opposite of. But in general, companies are pretty awesome out there in the world. There are a lot of amazing things being done. When I think about sports coaching and the challenges of leadership in other categories, the challenges of leadership in a company, particularly public companies with thousands of employees. It's unbelievable to think the amount of pressure that an executive team of, say, eight people is under at a public company. And they have developed some practices that we can learn from. We study them. We take the best ideas. I think of Laszlo Bock at Google [Alphabet] (GOOG -0.02%) (GOOGL -0.09%) and getting to know him well, and being able to deploy the things that he learned at Google and test them in the platform at The Motley Fool.

David Gardner: Can you give just for the fun of it -- and we're going to get back to early days, because I think CS's main question is about just those early days of starting -- but, Tom, what was something that we learned from Laszlo who was Google's Head of People for some years there, wrote a great book, became kind of something that we really connected in with and you became good friends with Laszlo. What's something we tried that has either stuck or didn't work here, just coming out of Google, here at The Fool?

Tom Gardner: I hope this answers your question well. But the first time I met Laszlo, in his office on Google campus, I said, "Hey, in the last five minutes that we have here, how about I just throw out a few things we're doing and you tell me whether the data supports that this is going to work?"

David Gardner: Because the data is what drove Laszlo so much, and he had so much data, because they're massive and they're a data company.

Tom Gardner: And I think they got a lot of agreement culturally, Google, to have a lot of laboratory tests going on. You might not even know what was going on, but they were testing to see whether this was inspiring to you or get better results for the company etc. So I ran a few things by Laszlo, and each one he said, "I like it, but the data doesn't support that one." And so, I think four out of the five things. I can't even remember the fifth that he did, plus, if I thought about it for a second, I could, but the most important thing I took from that was what Laszlo said at the end. "Listen, whether the data supports those individual things or not, the most important thing is that you are demonstrating to people that you care, that you're trying, the data's showing that you're trying to innovate your culture, that it's the No. 1 strategy at your company, even if you make a lot of mistakes, that you show that you care is the most important takeaway." And I was like, "Wow! Laszlo, thank you and thank you for crossing out those four, we are going to stop doing those four."

David Gardner: And that reminds me, going back to early days of The Fool, one of our exemplars, he was partly invested in our company at the time, Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks. And Howard came to Fool HQ.

Tom Gardner: We're just dropping names all over the place here. We got Howard, we got Laszlo also --

David Gardner: I don't have any names I could drop, but I can drop Howard's, because he was invested in us, he was right here at The Fool. And he's like, "You know, guys, at the end of the day, people don't want to know you're the best at what you do, they want to know that you care." And I'll always remember him saying that. He wasn't just saying that to us, that was just his general feeling about life. I'm sure the Starbucks brand is tied up in that as well. But that cut with what Laszlo was saying 15 years later.

Tom Gardner: And, arguably, Starbucks is among the greatest companies in American history from a cultural standpoint.

David Gardner: Helping pay for, like, kids' college. That's incredible.

Tom Gardner: Yeah. And because the average annual take-home pay for a Starbucks employee is well below that at Google. So you've got to find many nonfinancial ways to make people happy, and that's getting back to that prior point about learning from other companies.

The final one that I'll say, because Carolyn asked...

David Gardner: Caroline, Tom, Caroline.

Tom Gardner: Caroline asked, "How do you select somebody to run your people team?" And I will say, I'll cite Les McKeown, two wonderful books Predictable Success and The Synergist. We recommend them both. And in the second one, there is a lot of discussion about different professional personality types. And one of them is that you're a people person. You may not show up on time. You may not be thinking in systems and planning for the future, you just may be an awesome person that people love being around. And that has an extreme value in companies. And sometimes that person could be undervalued in a high-pressure situation, where there are deadlines and -- well, I mean, I enjoy being around them, but what are they actually getting done for us? Well, the truth is, people like that, and not just with that one factor, but people like that are generally good in HR. And sometimes people who are super certified and trained in HR aren't as good as somebody who just really loves people and teams and being supportive and helping.

So I think the leadership in our people team, in addition to all of the expertise and all the insights they brought, they bring that Howard Schultz --

David Gardner: ... people are magnetically attracted to people in our people team. Wouldn't you say?

Tom Gardner: I think that's true.

David Gardner: It's awesome. I mean, you just want to hang out with them, they're fun.

Tom Gardner: Yeah. And it's not because they're extroverted or charismatic leaders, they genuinely care about the success of every person that comes to work at our company. It doesn't mean we do everything right. We've made -- the last point I'll make to Carolyn/Caroline is --

David Gardner: Yeah, because there was a fourth one, you arbitrarily said, four.

Tom Gardner: Here it is. We've been here +26 years, so you have a better chance of creating an awesome culture if you are working at something you want to do for your life, because you can make mistakes for 22 years and then look awesome in the last four years. Thankfully, we have been learning every step of the way, but I think if you look at us in the first five years, we're probably a lot more like a lot of companies in their first five years. It's that we're around 26 years and we've tested, tweaked, improved, kicked out bad ideas and doubled down on the things that work, that has gotten us to the place where we are.

David Gardner: Tom, are you saying Rome wasn't built in a day?

Tom Gardner: The vast majority of wealth in the public markets is created by a very small fraction of public companies, and those companies demonstrate, among other things, very long tenure among all their stakeholders. Their founder is still there, their executive stay for 10, 15 years and not just trying to get stock options and cash out. Their employees are working there. Their customers stay very long periods of time. So yeah, time horizon is one of the most underrated things. Simon Sinek's new book, The Infinite Game, talks about this. And, yes, Rome wasn't built in a day is the succinct way to say it.

David Gardner: You know, I will note that -- and I'm going to go with Caroline. So we're just going for it here, Caroline. Caroline, you end this note, "Caroline in NYC {who is about to nod off and dreams some more about her flusher retirement account after that nice long-awaited 10% Amazon stock pop the other week. :)}" Well, that does make me really happy. And thank you, again, to my brother Tom for joining for that cameo.

I'll just add one final thing, Caroline, which is that, you know, we really didn't have a grand plan when we started The Motley Fool. We didn't even know we're going to be a company. We started a newsletter for our parents' friends and all of a sudden, we were on America Online with our own site. And all of a sudden, we actually had money that we could hire somebody else. So guess, how we hired? The wrong answer would have been LinkedIn or any online site, because this was before the internet. And another wrong answer would be, maybe the Washington Post classified ads. Sure enough, that's how people were hiring back in the 1990s, but we didn't have money to pay for the Washington Post for classified ads, so who did we hire? We hired our friends. We hired our smart, cool friends from college.

And once you do that and those become some of your early employees, what don't you do as the brother team starting a company? You don't do the following things. You need to be here at 9:00 a.m. You need to stay here till 5:00 p.m., by the way, you get five vacation days your first year. That's not how you talk to your cool, fun friends from college. We never did. Tom's love of summer camp. We both spent many summers in Maine and New Hampshire as summer camp kids. We know the fun of summer camp, even though our parents kind of made us go. That collegial aspect that you see, of course, in college -- that's where the word "collegial" is from, it's summer camp, it's those fun feelings of learning, surprises and opportunities. And sure enough, any start-up, you're going to be surprised for good and for ill a lot in your early years.

So that culture that we started was without intention, Caroline. We didn't think we were going to become a corporation. We have ended up doing so. But the way we kind of backdoored it in to starting something that at its heart had trust. And so maybe if I were to add a fifth point to Tom's, just trusting people. That's how we have always hired here at The Fool. We assume that you trust me and I trust you. And so I'm not going to cut your vacation days, I'm not going to use HR as a weapon to oversee and surveil and figure out what is our productivity, etc.

Anyway, thank you for the fun question.

Rule Breaker mailbag item No. 6. And I believe this is his third consecutive monthly appearance on this mailbag episode of our podcast. Max Keeler, welcome back.

Max Keeler: You can't get rid of me, David; I'm back for another one.

David Gardner: And why would I want to, because we're here to talk a little bit about Investor Island, one of my favorite topics.

Keeler: Mine too.

David Gardner: I know, because you're our project lead for Investor Island. So it's The Motley Fool's first mobile game app, downloadable for free, of course, anywhere you would download apps. And, Max, I got to say -- I don't want to jinx this -- but we're scoring -- I mean, I'm looking at iTunes, and I see we're a 4.7 out of 5 stars with several hundred reviews coming at this point. So I'm pretty excited about that.

Keeler: Apparently people like this game, which is good news for all of us.

David Gardner: It is. And I really hope this is something that, like a lot of other Fool things, we kind of build up over time and keep making it better. And I think one of the reasons I like to have you back is, A., I like you, B., Investor Island is a game and I love to talk about games and see, we can always talk a little bit about what we might be revealing next or what we're working on. So I'm going to start by sharing a mailbag item, because this is after all Mailbag.

And Nick Jackson -- I really like this note, you can opine briefly about this, but then we'll just talk a little Investor Island and then I'll let you get on your way. But Nick says, "David, I'm a huge fan of The Motley Fool's new mobile game. It is fun and doesn't get old. When I was listening to your January mailbag and heard there was more happening with the game, I got excited. Then I thought of my own idea for the game. I know you're not the designer, but it is my hope that my idea intrigues and excites you and that you will pass the idea along to the team."

Well, I would say, I'm like associate co-designer, like, I'm part of the team, as are you, Max. And I mean, we're a small team. We've got Todd, our good friend Roger, who adds a lot of value. We've got our development team in Ireland. I mean we're a small, we're all design team. So Nick, you are reaching out to us. I love this idea. I'm going to read it, share it. Max, you can let us know what you think of this?

"Competition is great and the game centralizes on one-versus-one and also free-for-alls and it's fantastic. However, what do we as Fools aspire to do when investing? We want to beat the market, beat the S&P 500, beat the Dow, beat the -- dare I say it -- the Nasdaq. My idea is for a cooperative game mode where you team up with your fellow Fools to take on one, maybe more ETFs that are high level, have great AI, have maybe cheaper statues to spread around the maps faster, maybe." He says, "I obviously don't have all the mechanics in mind, though I'm studying game design and working on my own game." Says Nick Jackson. "I just had the thought of that concept and thought I would share. Thanks for all you do. Nick."

Keeler: Nick, first off, I'm going to steal this idea and claim it was my own. Because I really like this idea.

David Gardner: Yeah, so you definitely shouldn't announce that nationwide on a podcast.

Keeler: Well, Rick can take care of that for me, right?

David Gardner: [laughs] That will be edited out, Rick?

Keeler: [laughs] That will be edited out. Good. Because we want to make sure --

David Gardner: It sounds like, Max, you really like this idea.

Keeler: So briefly, we meet every week. David, you attend those meetings. And we talk about ideas. And certainly, the rate of ideas versus the rate of development of ideas is very different. But we kind of look for ones that continue to resurface, ones that complement the game as we play it, as we get feedback, as users use this game. A couple of things we've been talking about a lot is, one is, team play. That's something that we've been discussing for a long time. There are some mechanics with team play that make it a little bit more challenging, just a list of friends, you know, sort of a social aspect to the game, which we currently don't have. But it's certainly something that a lot of games have. Love to add. And it's not that bad. But it's something that we've been talking about.

And the other thing that we've been spending a lot of time on, and my good friend, Brian O'Donnell, who's one of the developers over in Ireland, has upgraded the AI, for quite a while now.

David Gardner: I think we can share some of our stats, right, Max? So from our side of the trends, we can see some of the data coming in from our players. And one example would be that I think more than half of all the matches played on a daily basis -- and there are, like, over a thousand every day right now, but more than half of them are just people playing solo against the AI bot. Even though there's a lot of multiplayer design that we have in the game, a lot of people, as it turns out, and I understand this totally, they just kind of want to have their own solitary experience, they want to face a good bot and just play it. And they're doing that more than half the time right now.

Keeler: Sure. You do it on your own time, you get rewards. You won't advance in rank on the leaderboard, unless you play multiplayer. But, yeah, the AI pops its head out in a few places in the tutorials you're playing the AI. Kind of a dumbed-down AI. You play against the bot. And in some of the live games, when a player is inactive, we boot them and replace them with an AI, which is usually fairly hysterical because they're not very good. But they're not too bad. They're enough to make it fun.

So we have a lot of the elements to make this happen. What I like about Nick's idea is it doesn't really require, necessarily, like, of a social friend system. We could just match up three people against an AI. It'll just require some development around some balancing, probably some new maps to take care of this dynamic.

David Gardner: But really fun idea.

Keeler: I really like it, and it's very Foolish.

David Gardner: And it's a great idea that you had, Max. Your idea is amazing. I'm sorry who was Nick, again?

Keeler: I'm really proud of this. So I don't know. But, yeah, thanks, Nick, for that. It's always good to hear feedback, because it helps us -- it's another point of data to help us decide what we should do.

David Gardner: Yeah. And certainly, as somebody who is not a software developer by trade, certainly, I'm speaking of myself; Max can do that. I'm always aware that there's so much more we'd like to do than we can actually do all at once. And so, it becomes -- this is true, so many things in life, business included, becomes a game where you're trying to figure out, OK, what's the most impactful thing we could do next? The cheapest, the easiest to get it out there, quick and dirty. A lot of AB testing, some prototyping, and just thinking about how do we want to progress the app, make the game better.

Keeler: Yep. And speaking of which, we've got a few things coming. I'm going to tease a little bit some new developments. The latest release, which should happen probably next week in late February, early March, will be a companion game almost to the existing game, which we call metagame, and it's much more investing focus. So I won't get into the details. You have to check it out, but it's going to come out very soon.

David Gardner: I'll say a little bit more, because I know we're going to be cagey about this. So some of the rewards you'll get for progressing in the game become basically investable, we'll just use the word "tokens" for now. So you're going to have an opportunity to actually stake some of your resources just on actual stocks in the stock market, maybe what a lot of people would have thought The Motley Fool would do in the first place with the app, even though we want to create a strategy game and then [...] So if you're looking for a little bit more, "Hey, I want to put down something on a stock and see how it does." That will become a metagame element for your Investor Island experience, without saying too much more than that for now.

Keeler: Yep. So we've been working on that for quite a while. It's fun, it's neat, it's Foolish.

David Gardner: Yeah, that's a major addition for our game in March.

Keeler: Yes. And a couple of other new developments. One is, I don't know why I didn't do this earlier, but finally with some pressure from the players, we did open up a Motley Fool Investor Island message board on

David Gardner: In our forums, our discussion boards, free board. The Investor Island Motley Fool discussion board.

Keeler: Brand new. I'll try to throw a few posts in there just to get started, but anyone who's listening, who wants to chime in, you can just search for it, or I think it's under the Fun and Games category.

David Gardner: Okay. Yeah, I mean, if you're not already registered at, you can, it's a free registration, and you'll discover our discussion board and we can probably put a link to it in our show notes this week for anybody who wants to click on it and find it directly.

Keeler: Yep. And then the other thing which is a lot of fun, is we took a couple of our top players, Team of Jammers, who is, I don't think No. 1 now, but was No. 1. --

David Gardner: Definitely top 10, somewhere on the leaderboard, always there.

Keeler: And he works over in our Colorado office. He's a great guy. He and then Todd Adder, who's a colleague, he's one of the main designers for the game. We all got together, and we did a little analysis of basically a random game that we picked and we videotaped it. Thanks to Rick's help. Thank you, Rick. And so it's for people who want to get a little bit more in-depth into the game, how it works, little strategy. So we have --

David Gardner: It's kind of Mystery Science Theater commentary on a game in front of you from some of our smartest, best players. Is that fair?

Keeler: Exactly right.

David Gardner: How long is the video, ballpark?

Keeler: It's a bit over 20 minutes. Great. And you can skip around.

David Gardner: So perhaps Rick will put a link to that in our show notes as well. So if you are looking to up your game, your Investor Island game, we've got a -- I haven't seen it myself, but I know how smart and fun those three people are to listen to them. So we can listen and learn to get better at the game. And I know a lot of people have said, "I love the game, get the game, I'm trying to get better at the game, still trying to figure the game out." So I think Max you and the team are speaking to that.

Keeler: Yep. And I'll be tweeting out the link.

David Gardner: The Investor Island. @InvestorIsland on Twitter.

Keeler: Yeah. But you'll find it, if you're looking for it, I guess. So that's it. That's what's new to Investor Island. It's pretty exciting!

David Gardner: Excellent. Can't wait for March. Thanks, Max.

All right. Rule Breaker mailbag item No. 7. And it is my friend Aaron Bush in the house. Aaron, welcome back to this podcast.

Aaron Bush: Thanks for having me, David.

David Gardner: Now, is it fair to say that the first podcast you ever did at The Motley Fool was something we did together?

Bush: It was. As I was walking in the studio listening to you and Max talk, it brought a flashback memory back to me, back to when you guys co-hosted the Supernova podcast, like, way back in the day. This was maybe not way, way back but --

David Gardner: Six or seven years ago. Before this podcast.

Bush: Yeah, 2012-2014 somewhere in there. And that was about when I was getting started working for The Fool in a couple of ways and that's when I made my podcast debut. So it just brought that memory back.

David Gardner: I'm so glad. Yeah, Max and I enjoyed hosting a podcast, co-hosting for our Supernova members at the time. And then I started realizing, you know, it's kind of a smaller group when you're doing a podcast just for a member base, what if we just kind of restarted it and made it free for the world. And since July 2015, that's what we've been doing. Max is now working on Investor Island, but thank you for that memory, Aaron. That's great!

Bush: It was a lot of fun!

David Gardner: Well, you've added a lot of value, not just to our podcast but to our business over the last six or seven years. Now, Aaron, something happened in February. So we're looking back here in this mailbag podcast of the month that was. And when it happened, you dropped me a note, you're like, "Hey, Dave, that's amazing, that's a supernova." And I realized, that was a term -- of course, Motley Fool Supernova, a service here at The Fool -- but the meaning of supernova, there is an astronomical meaning. I think it's when a star blows up, but then there's the meaning that we have within an investment context. And you were reminding me that a supernova just happened that day. Could you give some of the deets?

Bush: Sure. So I'm sure most people who listen to this podcast are familiar with spiffy-pops. When a stock goes up more in one day than was your cost basis that you purchased at. A supernova is a really special version of a spiffy-pop. It's a spiffy-pop event that occurs for a stock that is widely held by The Motley Fool membership. So really as investors and leaders of these services, it's pretty much the best outcome, best possible outcome that we could have here at The Motley Fool.

David Gardner: Yeah. And so we were looking at it -- I'm just checking back, this was on February 12, right? -- Shopify (SHOP 1.61%), which is a stock that I first recommended in Motley Fool Rule Breakers at $21.02. It was actually February of 2016, so this month, four years ago. And on February 12, just a couple weeks ago, it went from $493 one day to $531 the next, that was up $38 a share. That's a lot more than just our cost basis from four years ago. So I was definitely, I think I was probably out there on Twitter going, "Amazing Shopify spiffy-pop." My brother Tom has picked it in Motley Fool Stock Advisor, a lot of Fools own this. And then you tapped me on the shoulder and you said, "You realized what just happened?" And I was like, "You're right."

Bush: And it doesn't happen very often; which is what makes it truly special.

David Gardner: So Shopify, probably one of the most-owned stocks among The Motley Fool member base, probably with some other stocks, like, maybe Netflix is there. I don't have an official tally. We're not at a bank, so we don't hold people's money or see what everybody's invested in, but we can see the clicks, we know members and watchlisting, and so, we can basically construe from the data what are some of the bigger holdings. And there's no question that Shopify is one of those.

Bush: Oh, yeah. And I was thinking, we have a spiffy-pop tracker on the website, but I don't know if we'll ever do this, but it will be really interesting to have, like, a supernova tracker on the website, where it tallies up the daily outperformance of a stock across all of the scorecards. And I'm pretty sure that Shopify maybe is on a dozen scorecards or so in different --

David Gardner: In terms of the different services that we offer here at The Fool.

Bush: Right. And lots of different services. And if you're to add the daily outperformance up across all of those services, it would have been an amazing day for so many people.

David Gardner: Right. So that was maybe the most amazing thing that happened this February. It was a great month and a troubling month in some ways near the end of the month for the markets. But think back on that one day when Shopify went up over $30 a share, when we got all of our members in the 20s, and we just think about how many people that day had a happy, happy day. Of course, it's still early days for many of these companies, Shopify included.

Bush: Yeah. I mean, this is probably the first supernova of many more to come for this business, I would expect.

David Gardner: That's awesome. Well, thank you for sharing that, and thank you for that recognition earlier this month, Aaron. And it occurs to me, we're going to see you a little bit later next month, because it's time for the next episode of the market cap game show.

Bush: Oh, boy!

David Gardner: And I think it's going to be our March 11th show. So I hope most of our listeners know this, but Aaron is not just the world champion at the market cap game show, given what we know so far about the universe, we haven't discovered intelligent life elsewhere yet, I'm calling you the universal champion of the market cap game show.

Bush: I'm truly humbled, but that's also an enormous weight to carry on my shoulders. So I'll do my best to meet expectations next month.

David Gardner: It is. And our new format which makes it a competitive game with one other person, we'll see who your contest is that you face this coming month. But I'm looking forward to that, Aaron. And thanks. Keep up the great work here at The Fool.

Bush: Thank you very much.

David Gardner: And to close, Rule Breaker mailbag item No. 8 this month. And this is one of those rare mailbag items, Rick Engdahl, that actually isn't a mailbag item. It is certainly No. 8, but no particular incoming question triggered this, something else did. If I was aware of what was happening maybe in January-ish, I believe a special moment that was announced to all of our employees occurred that day. Rick Engdahl celebrated his 20the Fooliversary. That means 20 years for you here at The Motley Fool.

Engdahl: Seems like only yesterday.

David Gardner: And in many ways, it is really. I think we're still getting started, as a company and a business and --

Engdahl: It always feels like a start-up here. It's true.

David Gardner: [laughs] Now, you and I have kids who are teenagers or older than that, so in some ways, we can kind of watch the growth of our company and think about our kids and how as a company, we are just hitting our adolescence or young adulthood ourselves here. But I thought it would be fun to have you on the other side of the glass, just for a couple of minutes.

Engdahl: It's strange over here. It's weird. I'm not used to it.

David Gardner: [laughs] And I thought one of my favorite Fools, somebody who's been here about as long as I have, and so thank you for all the work we've done together. And I just wondered if you had any thoughts after 20 years at The Motley Fool. It could've been 20 years anywhere. Maybe something about the past, something about the present, something about the future. One thing I remember, Rick, is, how did you come here in the first place?

Engdahl: I kind of stumbled into this job, really, to be honest. I had a job for too long in a previous employer that was not very good. And I quit that job thinking I would just be a freelancer. Turns out I wasn't very good at being a freelancer. I'd applied here because it seemed like a fun application.

David Gardner: Yeah. And weren't you a Middle Ages or Renaissance studies major?

Engdahl: I was a Medieval Studies major and English major, yes.

David Gardner: That's it. But an affinity for Shakespeare. So here's this thing called The Motley Fool, that's this AOL site back in the day.

Engdahl: Yeah, The Motley Fool was definitely the attraction there. The jester is the logo. Hearing about two brothers talking about finance for English majors, who actually knew how to communicate, that's something that most finance companies didn't do back then.

David Gardner: Well, Rick, my brother Tom said it earlier on this week's podcast, but you know, measuring loyalty over time, in the value of tenure. Fred Reichheld's book, The Loyalty Effect, teaching us that organizations that have long tenure from their employees, from their customers, from their partners and suppliers, their board members, their shareholders. We often can measure the length of things and it correlates directly with the value of things. So I just want to personally thank you for giving -- I'm going to say a fifth of your life-ish so far to our company. And I've just had so much fun with you doing this podcast week-in, week-out since July 2015.

Engdahl: It's fun to hear you and Tom talking about the culture of the company and how that all came together, because it's grown so organically, and I've been able to see that happen. And it's funny to me to think about other companies where that doesn't happen. I've been here so long that I just assumed that this is how life goes. It doesn't seem like it takes that much effort, especially as a young, small company. Now that we're getting a little bit bigger, I think that we're starting to put a little more structure around it. But you know, people ask me, "How I've been here so long?" I say, "It's kind of like a warm bath, it's just hard to get out," you know, it feels good to be here; you just don't want to leave.

David Gardner: [laughs] Well, you continue to add a lot of value, not just as my podcast producer, or certainly for Motley Fool Answers, our beloved team from earlier, but in other ways around The Fool. And I know, in particular, brand and branding is a real interest of yours and The Motley Fool, I think, in 2020, going to be coming out with some new branding, new logo, these kinds of things. I know you're sitting in on meetings and helping us think through those things. So in a lot of ways, everybody's doing side-of-desk stuff here at The Motley Fool. But for you and what you do, Rick, it's particularly valuable. So not just your paid job but all the stuff you do on the side. Thank you.

Engdahl: You're welcome. It's good to be here. Thank you.

David Gardner: All right. Well, thus it was February 2020. Next week on Rule Breaker Investing, it's Great Quotes Volume 11, this one's been overdue for a few weeks, because it's our listener edition. There's still time, if you'd like to tweet us @RBIPodcast or submit to [email protected], the email address.

If you have a great quotation, something that has inspired you, maybe as a better investor, a better business person or a better person overall, fellow wayfarer on the path of life, I'd love to hear it. And if it's good enough, if it's better than all the other ones, then I'll share it on next week's show. So it's our latest Great Quotes Volume 11 edition, this time, for the first time ever, from our listeners. Looking forward to that. Have a great week. Fool on!