Women investors: Join us July 10 for a forum with author Megan McArdle

You may know that women are better investors than men. That’s not just idle boasting; Forbes magazine and Warren Buffett both agree. Female investors are calmer, we think more long-term, do more research, and are steadier under pressure – all traits that add up to winning returns.

Sadly, despite the data*, it doesn’t necessarily translate to equal representation in traditional financial media. Watch CNBC or read The Wall Street Journal and you’d be forgiven for thinking investing is a man’s game. At The Motley Fool, we know that’s not the case, and we want to spread the word – so on July 10, 2014, from 5:30 to 8 p.m., we’re hosting an event for our female members and readers (of either gender).  

Our keynote speaker will be Megan McArdle. Megan is an economics, business and public policy columnist for Bloomberg and is the author of the recently-published book The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well is the Key to Sucess. Prior to working for Bloomberg, Megan worked stints at The Economist, The Atlantic, and Newsweek/The Daily Beast, and was a Bernard Schwarz fellow at the New America Foundation. She’s one of the most engaging and insightful economics columnists out there, and we’re very excited to welcome her back to the Fool for this event.

Whether you’re just thinking about getting started with investing, want to know if you’re on the right track, or are interested in learning more about our Foolish special sauce we’ll have opportunities for you to hear from other Foolish investors and discuss the strategies right for you.

There will be light appetizers and, as mentioned, great company. Optional office tours will be offered starting at 5:30 and we’ll kick of the gathering at 6. We’d love to see you there, and we’d love to hear your ideas for how to encourage more women to take advantage of the “head start” our gender gives us as investors.

We filled up quickly last time, please register here:

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/women-investing-foolishly-tickets-11994597163?aff=affiliate3

 

Warren Buffett Invests like a Girl: And you can, too.

Here’s a video of the event. 

If you’re a frequent reader of the Fool’s culture blog (and you should be), you’ll know that women are better investors than men. That’s not just idle boasting; Forbes magazine and Warren Buffett both agree. Female investors are calmer, we think more long-term,   do more reseaLou Ann Lofton, Authorrch, and are steadier under pressure – all traits that add up to winning returns.

Sadly, despite the data*, it doesn’t necessarily translate to equal representation in traditional financial media. Watch CNBC or read The Wall Street Journal and you’d be forgiven for thinking investing is a man’s game. At The Motley Fool, we know that’s not the case, and we want to spread the word – so on Jan. 6, 2014, from 6 to 8 p.m., we’re hosting an event for our female members and readers (of either gender) of our recent book, Warren Buffett Invests Like a Girl. The book’s author, LouAnn Lofton, will be speaking, as will Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner. You’re invited to mingle with other investors and members, as well as with female students taking part in our “Women Investing Foolishly” conference that week.

There will be light appetizers and, as mentioned, great company. We’d love to see you there, and we’d love to hear your ideas for how to encourage more women to take advantage of the “head start” our gender gives us as investors.

*Men reading this should know we don’t want to disrespect you. We want to help you … invest like a girl!

Interested? RSVP here

Women Investing Foolishly: Spend part of your winter break at FoolHQ!

Warren Buffett Invests Like a Girl

If you’re a college student looking for an investment lesson from a woman who is buddies with Warren Buffett, The Motley Fool has an opportunity for you.

You might not know it from watching CNBC, but women are better investors than men. It’s true — we’re wired for it. LouAnn Lofton knows that, and so does Warren Buffett — LouAnn is the author of Warren Buffett Invests Like a Girl, and Buffett is the master investor who inspired her on that very book.

What’s the secret? As Forbes puts it, “like Buffett, women are more likely to have a calm temperament, a longer-term outlook, do more research, trade less and remain steady under pressure.” (Forbes also notes, “What does Buffett think about the claim? ‘I plead guilty,‘ he said.”)

The Motley Fool wants to find the next Buffett … and we’ve learned that too few women get started in a career in investing.

That’s why we’re paying all expenses for five young women who think they’re Foolish enough to invest “like a girl” and against the crowd. Our “Women Investing Foolishly” program January 6-8 at Motley Fool headquarters in Alexandria, Va., will feature classes taught by members of our top-rated investment analysis team; a lunch hosted by LouAnn Lofton; and (we repeat) all travel expenses paid.   

Apply here to tell us why you want to be there!

“Foolish Woman (Invest Like a Girl)”

To the tune of “Redneck Woman” by Gretchen

Wilson

Well, I ain’t never

Been the Wall Street-er type

No, I can’t pay full-service fees.

I’d rather invest myself

In a small cap

Or in an ETF

Or in a Roth 401(k).

I’ve got posters on my wall

Of Bogle, Graham, and Price.

Some people may question me

But take it to the bank…

I’ll beat the market with The Motley Fool in its Investing Workshop.

[Chorus]

‘Cause I’m a Foolish woman.

I don’t trade reck-less-ly.

If I just invest like a girl, I’ll…

Say “Buy now” and “Spiffy pop!”

And I’ll keep my funds invested

Through vol’tility all year lo

ng

‘Cause I’ll know all the ways for multiplying my money.

So here’s to all my sisters out there staying rational,

Let me get a big “Fool yeah” from the Foolish girls like me. Fool yeah!

Fancy, private hedge funds…

Well, their stuff seems nice

But I can get better returns

And help my family (yes, my family)In a discount broker account

When they ask at Thanksgiving.

No, I don’t need no Buffett brain to reach finance safety.

It might seem esoteric,

A little too hardcore,

But in my neck of the woods

I’m better than ol’ “Warr!”

 

 

Encourage Employees to Take Much-Needed Vacations

Fool's Errand

Fool's ErrandAt The Fool we have a “take what you need” vacation policy. When we need a sick day, an extra day to get over jet lag, or to travel on off-peak days, no one in HR is counting our vacation time as long as we get our job done. And that line blurs even more as we get more tethered to our iThings. It’s not unusual for a Fool to check email in airports and take calls from home.

So how much vacation do you actually need?  Most Fools take between three and four weeks.  Some years Fools take more, some years we take less. Here’s the flip side: In a job where vacation time is limited, employees often feel like they need to optimize their free time and use all the time they’re allotted. Where vacation time is “free” it’s hard to tell if it’s ever okay to take any. Some Fools don’t really take much at all, and because we are all so connected we often forget to take a break.

To counteract some Fools’ tendencies to never take a vacation, we implemented a unique benefit called “The Fool’s Errand,” a monthly randomized drawing where the winner gets two consecutive, paid, no-contact-with-work weeks off. And it has to be taken within the month. So you’ve got two weeks to plan a two-week vacation and get all your ducks in a row before you leave.

Besides being a great surprise for one Fool each month, there’s also specific business purpose to the Fool’s Errand: It’s a great way to test our sustainability in a fun way. Typically an unplanned absence is a result of something unpleasant like illness, and only then the team learns where the single points of failure are. This way Fools can get a much needed and enjoyable break, while we as a company can make sure everyone is cross-trained in the event someone on our team needs to take time off unexpectedly.

What is your company’s policy on vacation? How do they encourage (or discourage) employees to take vacations and breaks?

Kara Chambers wrote this post before embarking on her very own Fool’s Errand! Her colleagues and her dog miss her very much but we all hope she has fun.

The Four Types of Mentors

Matching hats and outfits not required

Matching hats and outfits not required

Our People Coaching team believes that no one mentor size fits all.   We all need different types of mentors to help us through our careers.    We’ve divided our mentors into four categories:

1. A Sounding Board :  This is someone at a similar level to you in a different department. This type of mentor can help keep groups from becoming too siloed.

2. A Coach:   Sometimes a mentor is present to help you get past something holding you back, maybe it’s your presentation skills, organization, meeting facilitation. A coach will get you focused.

3. A Sponsor:   This is typically a senior level mentor to help get you into your next role.   They are there to advocate for you among the senior leadership team.

4. A Guide:   This is for a high performer who is very focused on their current role and might need some understanding about what’s next in their career.   A guide is typically someone more tenured who can give some ideas about new opportunities.

When our team meets to talk about mentoring, we often ask ourselves one question to guide us in the type of mentor a Fool might need:

Is this Fool achieving all they can right now?

And we have 3 categories of answers:

A:  Yes, they are on the right path.  (We pair them with a sounding board to broaden horizons)

B:  No, they are holding themselves back. (We pair them with a coach)

C:  No, and we need to provide them with a better opportunity to shine. (We pair them with a sponsor or guide) What other types of mentors have you had in your career?

Knowing the Score: How do you get feedback?

A Motley Group

A Motley Group
Over the past two months,  our team has been forming into what is now considered the Fool’s coaching team.  Our CEO, Tom Gardner, has often mentioned that star employees should be like Olympic athletes: having access to coaching and guidance to be at the top of their game.  You know we already really do have a trainer on staff, but what about another hugely important element of becoming the best? You have to know the score.

That’s where Fool Feedback comes in. Most companies do some version of an annual performance review.  You know, the ones where your manager sits you down once a year and rates you on a numeric scale?  Sometimes people are force ranked, some managers are high graders, and some are low graders. We’ve tried that, and it seemed helpful to nobody.  It was time consuming and stressful.

Our tech team then took it upon themselves to try 360 Feedback, where each individual could review anyone else at the company anonymously.  Then it was summarized and delivered by their managers. But even then, anonymous comments without context seemed to get their messages mixed.

This time, we’re trying something different.

This time, every Fool is participating, and everyone is encouraged to leave their names.  And, this time, the feedback gets delivered right to you by a member of the people team, so it’s up to you to figure out how to improve and then ask your manager for help.  Get some tough feedback?   We figure if you work here, you’re a high performer, and you should be the first to be able to figure out how how to improve yourself, rather than having a manager prescribe it. When you get your feedback, we would encourage you to think about it, then approach your manager, mentor, or Fool Coach with it and some of your own ideas on how to do better.

Here’s the other test:  you have to pay to play.

In order to receive your feedback, you have to have at least left feedback once on someone else and included your name.      We do this so that, now, everyone has a stake. We all want to improve, and we all want to work with great people.

We’ve never done feedback this way before, so it will be interesting to see the results.

What would you do if you could change your company’s performance system?

Office Design: What does a great office space look like to you?

Photos by Chris Spielmann

Last spring we moved into the newly remodeled 5th floor at our Alexandria headquarters to a nice, clean, mobile office space.  Everything was on wheels.   Our desks, our file cabinets, our whiteboards, and our chairs.    The space was wide open with stations for power on trusses.

How did this change our culture?  We were surprised at how easy it was to move.  It used to take time to organize a desk move, relocate people from cube to cube, but now we can decide to rearrange our space over lunch.   Need to move a whole tech team nearer the business unit?   Someone transferring into a new role (did we mention this happens all the time?)    We’d always joked that we  reorganized a lot even before the rolling desks, and my team has moved 3 times within the past year.

Herman Miller did a writeup on our space recently to talk about the benefits of  our unique mobile space.  What do you think are some key elements of a great work space?

What a Fool Believes

Our Fool Rules

In 1997 a group of Fools sat down to write our Fool Rules, the first draft of our Fool Handbook.   Individuals from across the company pitched in to write different sections, creating our vision for what life inside our office is like. This was before Netflix touted its unlimited vacation policy, and our no dress code “rules” were unheard of in the Washington DC area: “No more than three colors not found in nature, no viking helmets with strapless dresses”

Inc. magazine did a story on our handbook in 2000, quoting Fool Founder David Gardner:

“Keep in mind that we never planned to start a company in the first place. We were just cranking out a newsletter. The idea that someday we would have employees, not to mention an employee manual, never even occurred to us. One day we looked around and said, ‘Gosh, we have people working here.’ Sometime around 1997, we realized we should have something in writing that explains what we do, how we behave, and what we believe in.”

Recently we’ve enjoyed taking a look at some other great workplaces’ handbooks, such as Valve Software. An employee handbook doesn’t necessarily have to be a list of rules and regulations. A well written one can tell you a lot about what your business values.