365 Days a Foolish Investor

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.35.47 PM

After a year at the Fool, Rana Pritanjali – a recent graduate of our Analyst Development Program – reflects on her experience. Her takeaways speak not only to Foolish investing principles, but also our workplace culture. Keeping an open mind is perhaps the best way to adapt to a new role – and learn how to be Foolish.

“How I Became Foolish in One Year”
Rana Pritanjali

One year ago …

It’s my first day in the Fool’s Analyst Development Program, and I’m taking in my HQ surroundings. I notice placards hanging from the ceiling — big signs with the names and logos of the Fool’s best-performing recommendations. I am surprised by the companies; hardly any of them seem like the right picks from a conventional point of view. To top it off, Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) is among The Motley Fool’s highest-conviction stocks. As a value-focused investor, it’s a surprising day. I head home and tell my husband: “I simply don’t get it. Seriously, Facebook?”

One month ago …

I find myself explaining to my husband how advertisers can use Facebook’s platform to connect with their audience. How the anticipated double-digit growth in advertising revenue comes from changing consumer trends and Facebook’s seamless transition to mobile advertising. How the huge opportunity to connect with the world gives Facebook the potential to emerge as a big winner.

In the past year, my career followed a great but steep learning curve. I might be a bit biased, but I think the Fool’s Analyst Development Program is most beneficial to investors who come in with a serious value bent. It challenges your thinking by showing you a completely different way of investing — one that’s even backed up with an amazing track record.

I still support my investment theses with valuation, but I’ve learned to apply other qualitative frameworks, too. Here are lessons that have improved my analysis and made me a better investor:

Management matters: Like many investors, I used to think that the quality of a company’s management team is baked into the stock price, so I never cared much about the leaders running the ship. But I was completely wrong.

At the Fool, leadership plays a key role in evaluating a company. After going through many case studies in my classes, I realized that having excellent management gives a company (and its shareholders) huge optionality and that the chances of a good business evolving into a great one are way higher when leadership is strong. On the flip side, bad management can screw up a great business. So here are two things I’ve learned to never ignore: Who is running the show, and how is he incentivized?

A good work culture translates into high productivity: Similarly, I never understood the importance of work culture until I started working at Fool HQ. Working with the right set of people in an employee-friendly environment keeps your morale high, accelerates your learning curve, encourages you to give your best, and motivates you to get better every day. Because a company is made up of employees, if each employee shares in the positivism, the overall productivity and performance of the business will probably improve.

A flexible mind-set goes a long way: Having a curious and flexible outlook goes a long way. Valuation is still an important part of business analysis for me, but giving equal weight to more qualitative components helps me understand the whole story. What’s more, working on the edge of your circle of competence is good for slowly but steadily widening your circle. You can always decide what works and what doesn’t for you — and at least you’ll be making an educated decision.

Learning how to merge valuation analysis with these more qualitative approaches takes time, but in my opinion, it’s worth it. You get the best of both worlds.

Here’s to many more years of learning!

Foolishly,
Rana (TMFBuild)
*Originally published July 8, 2015 on TMF’s Inside Value members-only website.

Learn more from Rana and other Fools in our most recent ADP cohort:

Foolientation Secrets from a Recruiter

img_20150618_161826_2_1024

What’s a new hire’s first day like at your company? We hope its awesome, and that you have enough excitement in your orientation program to last at least 90 days. If you’re asking why, it’s because multiple reports reveal stats proving the first 3 months in a new job are crucial to an employee’s happiness, success, and retention. We take onboarding very seriously here at The Motley Fool, as Foolish Recruiter Cheryl further explains:

When it comes to Foolientation – our term for Fool Orientation – we’re constantly testing new ideas and trying to top it. It’s important that we stay innovative by brainstorming and continuing to seek fresh feedback.

Foolientation is all about making sure we’re setting new Fools up for success, and the first step in the right direction is to personalize their journey with us. Before a new Fool even starts, we send them a questionnaire asking about their favorite things (foods, sports, movies, vacation spots, etc.), hobbies, investing experience, and more. We then seriously deck out their desk; for example, a new Fool who loves traveling may get a scratch-off map or a book about the best places to visit in the world.  

img_20150521_192325_1024

img_20150521_200805_1024

Not only is this experience fun for the new Fool (Who doesn’t love gifts?), but it also gives everyone passing by a snapshot of their personality. This paves the way for Fools to identify mutual interests, which can make a new hire feel even more at home. In addition, the new Fool’s manager calls them before their first day on the job to congratulate and answer any questions.

On a Fool’s first day, which is always a FRIDAY, they receive a “First Day Survival Kit,” filled with Uno cards, Silly Putty, candy, and a Nerf gun. Paperwork and Benefits are certainly important, but here at the Fool we like to save that for Day 2 – the following Monday.  Part of a new Fool’s first Friday includes an office tour led by a Leadership Fool highlighting our high performance culture; lunch with Fools outside of their department to make connections; and a team party to round out the day. Instead of saying goodbye for the weekend, we tell them to “Treat Yo Self” with $100 to spend on dinner with their family and friends.

On our second day of Foolientation – the more exciting version of a Monday – the new Fool has an interactive Office Operations tour to learn how the office functions. Later in the day, the Fool meets their Fool Buddy – a tenured Fool who will regularly check-in to answer questions about our company, culture, or processes. Together they also complete a Foolish Scavenger Hunt, solving riddles and searching for clues about our company’s services, culture, and history FoolHQ.

img_20150327_110620_1024 (2)

As for our dress code, anything goes! We only have three types of unacceptable dress here at the Fool. Seriously – Fools can rock jeans, shorts, jean shorts, sweatshirts… and the list goes on! But we don’t hesitate to send you home if you’re wearing a viking helmet with a strapless evening gown; plaid with polka-dots; or more than three colors not found in nature.

tmf_IMG_0368

We encourage you to check out our monthly Workplace Foolosophy Tour. Sign up to start with a tour of FoolHQ where you can see full-time Fools in the flesh working, innovating, creating, and plain ole’ being Foolish. We end with a 30 minute Q&A joined by Fools on our People Team. It’s the perfect opportunity for us to share Foolish best practices for you to bring back to your office! Please keep in mind that we don’t hire or take applications during this time – because we created a Jobs place specifically for that purpose!

A first day on the job leads to your first impression of the company. The Fool makes every attempt to make this experience Foolishly fun, informative, and welcoming. So tell us – what’s your onboarding experience like for new employees?

Push-Up to Wellness Wonders

pushupchallenge

Do you ever wonder how many push-ups you could achieve at any given moment? Get down and give us 20! In all seriousness, take a few minutes to count the number you’re able to reach. Is it 5? 10? 142? Now – if you’re not too tired – think about how many push-ups your entire company could collaboratively log. We actually answered this question for ourselves during June’s Fool-wide Push-Up Wellness Challenge.

This competition definitely showed off more than muscle. At the start of June, Wellness Coordinator Sam Whiteside challenged Fools to sign up for push-up brackets of 500; 1,000; 3,000; 5,000; and 10,000. All Foolish health challenges are optional, with the goal being for each Fool to attain their personal goal in 30 days. Over 80 Fools signed up for June’s contest, pausing daily to push-up during meetings, stand-ups, and (naturally) Sam’s wellness classes.

To help Sam reach her own participation goal for this competition, People Team Fools cooked up a surprise plan. On June 30, we launched Push-Up to Pamper Sam, a one-day challenge that unlocked prizes for Sam at set tiers. The categories kicked off with a tiny solar plant and breakfast delivery, soon escalating to gift cards at Port City Brewery, Sugar House Day Spa & Salon, and Zweet Sport. The amounts gave room for Sam to bring along other Fools, too.

Throughout the day, Fools everywhere pushed – literally and figuratively – to unlock the tough tiers. Progress was monitored with a spreadsheet while Fools sent regular updates on a Slack channel. As the day rolled along, a total of 189 Fools participated – and the challenge didn’t stop once office lights dimmed. Fools were active online even after midnight, all encouraging one another to do more for the team.

slackend

We finished with an impressive count of 31,043 push-ups in one day. Fools surpassed all seven tiers in the 7a-11:59p Push Up to Pamper Sam challenge, contributing to a final count of 170,198 Fool push-ups in June. Do your arms hurt yet?

June 30 didn’t turn out to be a typical Foolish Tuesday. On the final day of our June wellness challenge, Fools all over the world seriously rallied. Such support symbolized how well Fools can come together to make major things happen for the love of our company or, in this case, a fellow Fool. We’re adding this record to the books!

We Can’t Be “ON” 24/7 – WorkHuman 2015

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 8.57.55 PM

Erin Miller, an Executive Coach here at the Fool, was lucky enough to attend this year’s WorkHuman conference in Orlando, FL. And she even started a trending hashtag – #OperationRobLowe. But back to the point – for those unfamiliar, this event’s mission was to educate participants on workplace engagement; creating a culture of happiness; and finding a place for purpose and meaning at work. Speakers included Arianna Huffington, Rob Lowe (yes, that Rob Lowe), Shawn Achor, and Brigid Schulte (a friend of the Fool!).

Our People Team joined Erin once she returned to hear all about her experience. Takeaways from Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post; Robert Emmons, Professor of Psychology at UC Davis; and best-selling author Adam Grant were particularly intriguing. If you, too, are all about workplace innovation, we hope these reflections will be inspiring.

0920_huffingtonArianna Huffington, Co-Founder & Editor-In-Chief of The Huffington Post

As if it wasn’t common sense, modern science proves that humans require downtime. History defines success as money and power, yet health and wellness have been missing from the equation. Since there’s little separation between work and life, Arianna stressed that we don’t need to work more – just make work betterNo human being should be forced to be “ON” 24/7.

So how does The Huffington Post ensure that employees avoid burnout?

  • They have 2 nap rooms instead of more coffee machines.
  • An email policy is enforced. When employees finish work, they’re not expected to be on email – they’ll be texted if it’s urgent.
  • Management watches billable hours and, if an employee gets too high, there’s an “intervention.”

0813_favprof_630x420Adam Grant, Wharton’s Top-Rated Professor & Best-Selling Author

You could say that Adam Grant’s resume is impressive, to say the least. His book Give and Take earned immediate praise as Wall Street Journal’s Favorite Books of 2013; The Washington Post’s 2013 Books that Every Leader Should Read; and even Oprah’s list of riveting reads.

During the conference, Adam focused on 3 Fundamental Styles of Interaction and how they impact success. These styles play a role in both recruiting and management. Who do you want to hire? What type of boss would you rather work for? There are Takers, Givers, and Matchers, but Adam argued that what we really need is a culture of “help seekers.” We should encourage employees to ask questions because, despite the stigma, being curious is not a burden. In more difficult conversations, Grant recommends focusing on the behavior – not the person.
maxresdefault
Robert Emmons, Professor of Psychology at UC Davis and Founding Editor-In-Chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology
Gratitude plays a huge part in our lives. Emmons shared the impact of practicing gratitude in the workplace. A few of Emmons’ points on the importance of gratefulness included:
  • It increases emotional well-being.
  • Grateful people achieve more.
  • Grateful people get along better with others.
  • Grateful people pay it forward.
  • Grateful people are less depressed.

The future is co-created. In order for us to grow into innovative workplaces, the suggestions from those who spoke at WorkHuman are important to consider. Will you be a workplace that follows these trends?

Colorado Gets Foolish

IMG_0874

We get a lot of questions during First Friday Fool HQ tours about our – shall we say unique – office design. How do Fools work so well in an open layout? Where did you buy this furniture? Who gets a standing desk? Are bicycle desks comfortable? Our Office Operations Fools, also in-house experts on workplace design, never miss a beat. From Fool HQ renovations to scouting spaces in New York and Australia, this team truly understands the importance of workplace ambience.

Research shows that the right professional environment can ignite creativity and encourage focus. According to one study, wall colors are also a factor: “Test-takers surrounded by red walls were better at skills requiring accuracy and attention to detail, while workers in blue environments were more creative.”

After months of planning, we’re excited to share photos of our new office in Colorado. Appropriately dubbed Foolorado, this space houses just a few internal Fools for now. The goal was to create an office mimicking Fool HQ but with a new vibe tailored to Colorado.

IMG_0863

A team of 4 Fools made the trip to unpack, move, arrange, rearrange, and finally perfect the space’s look. Tech Fools also tagged along to set up the best remote connections and ensure that Internet access was on par.

IMG_0869

IMG_0890

IMG_0895

Are you renovating space or even moving to a new office location? Leader of the Ops team Melissa Malinowski has some advice: “Talk to employees who practice many different types of working styles. Ask people what they love about their current work environment and what could be better. Create a view-book and ask for input on colors and styles. Everyone works in the environment every day. You want people to feel safe, comfortable, healthy, and more effective or productive than they would be if they stayed home.”

It’s another plus that beautiful mountain views are what Fools will see at work – instead of a blank wall or dreaded cubicle. Foolorado On!

RedRocks

Fool Wellness Makes The Washington Post

Employees at Motley Fool have many options to stay fit, in Alexandria, VA.

While financial health is the base of our business, Fools need strong minds too. As full-time Wellness Director Sam Whiteside revolutionizes Foolish health, her initiatives are quickly becoming ingrained in our culture. During Sam’s time as a Fool, she’s added additional workout classes (yoga, kettlebells, and cycling – oh my!); started a monthly newsletter; created company-wide challenges; and offered multiple private consults to Fools striving for better health. However, these examples barely cover the surface of Sam’s impact on our organization. Her goal is to reach 100% wellness participation across the company and, in just under 2 years, we’ve already hit 89%.

We’re thrilled that Sam was able to represent Foolish wellness in our recent Washington Post feature, which announced their picks for 2015’s Best Places to Work.

FullSizeRender

In a world where work is nearly 24/7, wellness is even more important to employees’ happiness. And while it could be intimidating, don’t feel nervous about encouraging health initiatives at your organization. Sam advises, “The trick is to get to know your people first, get their trust. And then they’ll pretty much let you run them into the ground if you want to.”

FullSizeRender[1]

To see what other companies made The Washington Post’s list, click right here.

Glassdoor Features our Foolish Recruiters

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 10.47.47 AM

As a job-seeker or HR professional, have you ever contemplated the top traits a candidate can offer in today’s job market? Our recruiters, who collectively bring 10 years of experience to the Fool, took a break to tackle hiring’s most-popular FAQ’S for Glassdoor’s “Rockstar Recruiter Series.” Their answers, covering everything from internal branding to cultural fit, are definitely worth a read. 

Our CEO Tom Gardner points out: “Employees spend a third of their lives at work. Make your office a place someone would actually want to spend time.” We’re all about sharing ideas, and thanks to Glassdoor we can start a discussion on Foolish recruiting. Even if you’re not in the hiring industry, we hope our feature inspires ideas that can improve your workplace.

Weigh in on all things hiring via Twitter or by commenting below!

Take a FoolHQ Tour with Us!

FoolBDay (117 of 329)

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work at The Motley Fool? You’re certainly not the only one! Lucky for you, we offer the opportunity to visit Fool HQ on the first Friday of every month through our Workplace Foolosophy Tours. Hosted by a People Team Fool, you’ll get the full scoop behind our company’s history, core values, and unique workplace culture. If you’re excited about the possibility of bringing new ideas to your workplace, this tour is for you! Plus all the fun happens in under 2 hours.

Our People Team is comprised of Fools from Office Operations, Recruiting, Learning & Development, Communications, & Organizational Development, and a 45 minute Q&A session with these Fools follows every tour. You’ll get insight from Fools like our Chief People Officer, Executive Coaches, and Recruiters.

Click here to see our open dates and sign up for a spot. Please keep in mind that we limit registration to 4 people per company. We look forward to spending a Friday morning with you soon!

A Fool for the Win!

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 12.56.31 PM

The Motley Fool is proud to employ a diverse band of Fools including Todd Etter, our Chief Collaboration Fool. Over the past 15+ years, Todd has undoubtably made a mark on our company. From creating original team building exercises to planning elaborate company-wide puzzle hunts, Todd is known for his love of (challenging) games.

Todd was on the winning team for the 2015 Washington Post Hunt. A city-wide event that took place on one of DC’s hottest days yet, participants looked to solve puzzles from pages of the Post’s Sunday magazine to area parks, statutes, and stages. Todd’s team – named “Boneless Chicken Cabaret” – also took home the first place trophy in 2014 and 2008.

There seems to be no puzzle here – Todd is a winner at the Fool and beyond. Congrats!

Embracing the Future of Work

A few philosophies in FastCompany’s article  “These are the New Rules of Work” sound Foolishly familiar. Over the duration of our company’s history, we’ve evolved into a culture that’s now known for some pretty unique benefits. No vacation policy? Check. No dress code? Yep. Free healthy snacks? We promise! The Motley Fool seems to have embraced this future all along, which shines through these examples:

1. Work can happen wherever you are, anywhere in the world.

Open-office plans don’t jive with every work ethic, so we aim to help Fools work comfortably both in and out of the office. Slack has helped us to systemize accessible Fool-wide communication, plus our tech team has a dedicated channel to offer remote assistance. We also make a point to keep remote Fools informed through a weekly newsletter, monthly live-streamed huddles, and our company intranet.

Whether the blocker is traffic, travel, or family conflicts, incorporating flexible schedules into your company’s benefits can make a rewarding difference. Work location shouldn’t stand in the way of the passion you feel for a project.

2. You’re on call 24/7.

Do you check your email account on the weekend? If the answer is yes, you’re in the company of nearly half of employed adults. What’s more, a full 44% of US-based employees log-in on vacation. Though the typical 9-5 workday is slowly dying, it makes sense in our tech-enhanced world. Fools have the ability to work based on when they’ll produce the best results, and sometimes that’s not at 8AM.

3. You Work Because You’re Passionate about a Movement or a Cause – You Have to Love What You Do.

Fools share a mission “To Help the World Invest – Better.” We’ll be the first to tell you that working toward a shared cause is one key to higher engagement levels, better productivity levels, and boosted creativity among teams. The fact that Fools love our ultimate goal helps each of us strive to reach the next level.

Is your workplace out with the old and in with the new? See the full article here and weigh in on Twitter!