Unveiling our #Foolosophy Video Series

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Since we’re constantly striving to spread the word about Foolish culture, our latest endeavor is pretty darn exciting. Introducing Foolosophies, a peek into life at FoolHQ through interviews with the Fools that know our company best. This video series uncovers answers to many questions about the Fool, from the importance of core values to our Foolanthropy tradition; different collaboration opportunities; and the 411 on our insurance benefits.

Do you feel like your organization is in need of a culture makeover? These videos provide valuable information that could inspire you to make a big change. Fools share their best tips for accommodating different types of workspaces; fostering transparent communication; and holding companywide events like Pizza Day and Cake Day – for a purpose!

More #Foolosophy videos are in production, but we’d love your feedback! Is there a question that you’re dying to have answered? Comment below and we’ll take it into consideration! Wondering how to see such great content? See our Menu above – and click “Foolosophy.”

Fool On, Foolish readers!

Take Leave for Lunch!

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Is it lunchtime yet? Maybe the better question would be to ask if you even take a lunch break at all. Research reports that in North America, only one in five employees put time aside for meals, with nearly 40% of this population claiming to eat at their desks. We’re all busy, but let’s at least take a few to discuss why lunch breaks are worth it.

Experts claim that standing up for a quick food break can “increase your energy levels, stabilize your blood sugar, and enhance delivery of nutrients like antioxidants, vitamins and fiber that help your systems run smoothly.” Pretty important benefits, no? Stopping your work flow to eat lunch isn’t rocket science, but it can be difficult to put a project on hold. If you need more convincing on the matter, desk lunches also increase the potential for mindless eating, defined as “enjoying food less, eating beyond full, and generally not feeling satisfied by it which often leads to snacking on non-nutritious foods later in the day.” I doubt that anyone wants to feel poorly when, in this situation, making a schedule change can be so easy.

If eating lunch at your desk is part of your company’s culture, it’s time for a change. You’re entitled to enjoy a midday break! Add a reminder to your calendar and find a lunch buddy. The lunch rush can be a great opportunity to meet other coworkers. Our café is always buzzing in the afternoons, acting as a communal space to not only eat but communicate. We also host a monthly pizza day where Fools can unwind and enjoy a slice or two, as well as weekly afternoon express fitness classes to get Fools up and moving.

Don’t worry, your work will always be waiting for you to return. Whether you leave the office or not, I bet you’ll notice a difference in how much better it feels to get away from your desk. Taking leave for lunch will provide a burst of energy so that you can bring your A game back to your desk for the afternoon.

Yes, You Can Bring Your Parents to Work!

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Maybe a version of “Bring Your Kids to Work Day” was part of your childhood, and The Motley Fool certainly continues this tradition every summer. We recently turned the tables and organized “Bring Your Adult Family to Work Day,” which hosted Foolish spouses, siblings, and parents. This event, the first held at the Fool in a few years, left everyone impressed – and informed. Financial breakout sessions, a company-culture breakdown, and lunch over a live taping of Motley Fool Money gave family members a glimpse into Fools’ lives here as employees.

Considering that only 1% of U.S. companies host such an event, it’s not surprising that many of my friends were unfamiliar from their own work experiences. However, more companies are inviting parents into the workplace. Google and Starbucks held their first parent events in 2012, and LinkedIn recently hopped on the bandwagon. Last November, LinkedIn hosted the company’s first “Bring In Your Parents Day,” which allowed guests to tour the campus and mingle with staff. In short, it sounded quite similar to our event – except for LinkedIn hosted nearly 600 family members.

Interestingly enough, there was once a time when companies didn’t roll out a welcome mat for employees’ parents. Managers saw them as a burden, furthermore “The hyper-involved moms and dads of the millennial generation were said to be showing up at job interviews, calling hiring managers on behalf of their kids and even complaining to employers about their children’s salaries.” The tides have turned and organizations are now embracing the idea of parents in the workplace – every so often, at least. Some argue that if employees’ parents appreciate the company, those staff members will be happier and more connected to the organization. The Washington Post feature continues, “If there’s any common theme to why companies have started involving parents more, that’s it: Showing the workplace off to parents, and better communicating with them, could stoke higher engagement among employees and make them less likely to leave.”

There’s a happy medium that can be found in parents’ workplace involvement. Our event was meant to be something fun and casual for Fools and their loved ones to enjoy. To take the idea a step further, Northwestern Mutual sends optional e-newsletters to parents and also organize recognition dinners, while Google offers the option of sitting down alone with their child’s manager.

It’s clear that companies can approach this type of activity in different ways. Can you see the benefits of hosting a parents’ event at your workplace? Why or why not?

A Fool by Any Other Name…

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By Lee Burbage

Here at FoolHQ, change is in the air. We are in the process of implementing a new Human Resource Information System platform, and it’s an interesting time for everyone as we learn about our new tool, adjust to our new processes, and transfer all of our data. We have chosen to go with Namely as our new enterprise HR system. They are one of the newer kids on the block, and they resonated with us because their platform intuitively captures growth and allows us to seamlessly grow without dropping any data between the cracks. As we make the transition to our new HR system, one piece of data caught my eye.

One of the fields we needed to include in our new platform was job titles. Once these titles were uploaded, Fools could log in and select which one applies to them. For most companies, this simple step probably requires little thought.  I’m picturing a drop-down menu with a basic, humdrum list that includes “Analyst,” “Developer,” and “Accountant.” But there’s nothing basic and humdrum about us, is there? With north of 315 employees at the Fool, I’m thinking our drop down menu will include about 300 unique-as-a-snowflake titles. And we are totally OK with that.

At the Fool, we let our employees choose whatever job title they want. We care much more about the awesome work you’re producing than the title in your email signature. (We use the same reasoning for our casual dress code- is your work less awesome if you do it in flip flops?  I didn’t think so). I can’t help but laugh at how hung up people can get on titles- like all their hopes and dreams are tied into these few words.  What will be different about the role you play and the difference you make today vs. tomorrow if you had a different title?  I imagine not much would change. Our challenge to Fools is to create a Funktional title- something fun and funky that tells us a little about what you do.

So with the freedom to choose your own job title, the process to upload them into Namely took a little longer for us.  In the constant search for efficiency, we realize there are some things that are worth the extra time.  We created a Google Doc and asked all our Fools for their job title submissions.  We should have ordered popcorn as we watched the creative titles roll in.  “World Domination Operations Gladiator” was pretty epic.  “Foolish Beat Dropping Financial Planning Ninja” was a close second, but one of my favorite titles comes from our head of HR who requested that her title be “Resources for Humans.”  The more traditional title of “Human Resources” highlights how many companies view their employees as resources to be used by the company. “Resources for Humans” puts a spotlight on our servant leadership approach; we are here to serve our Fools.  How can we help you today?

Is There an App for Everything?

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What’s in an app? It probably doesn’t relate to …”that which we call a rose” but, depending on what you need – Shakespearian or not – an app could be anything. Out of over 1.2 billion options in the Apple Store, it’s pretty predictable that social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube rank highly on user charts. While even I am guilty of downloading these popular programs, mobile apps aren’t just used for play. With the palms of many professionals’ hands glued to smart devices, productivity enablers can be found all over the Internet. One Fool, whose Motley reads “There’s an app for everything,” even hosted a 30-minute class on her favorite picks. Here’s our take on the best apps for business – and your workload:

1. Loggr

One user describes it as “a chance to actually log and track your life,” and an in-house Fool uses this app regularly. Track anything and everything, from the number of pushups you did last night to the cups of coffee you drank this morning. The best part? There’s no wearable attachment involved, so you don’t have to purchase anything. You can also use this free app in the workplace to track metrics or log hours.

2. Instapaper

Living in a city, one of my biggest pet peeves is when I lose service on the subway. Lucky for everyone else who feels the same way, paying $3.99 and downloading this app will allow you to save and store articles that can be read offline and on-the-go. It’s not only available on Apple devices, but also Androids and Kindles. Another plus? There’s a highlighting feature that’s great for studying text, plus you can share anything you’ve saved with colleagues.

3. Evernote

No more sticky notes when you can use this app, which organizes all of your ideas into one place. Whether it’s your to-do checklist or a multitude of random ideas, this app can create separate notebooks to keep your thoughts clutter-free. The People Team actually uses Evernote to consolidate speaker notes and presentations. Photos are able to be added, and this app can be downloaded to your computer to sync all of your work. Who can complain when everything’s in one place?

4. CloudMagic

We’re not the only ones who thinks this app is great – in fact, it’s the winner of several webby accolades. CloudMagic serves as a unified inbox for all of your email accounts, no matter if you’re using Outlook or AOL. By using its’ card function, you can connect your email with other business tools like Evernote, Trello, and Zendesk. This app proves to be incredibly functional with a clean visual design.

5. Songza

Music always helps with stress relief, but everyone needs a break in the first place. One Fool describes Songza as “curated playlists that seem to read your mind” because Songza offers music that’s mood-appropriate. Unwinding from a long day at the office? There’s definitely a playlist made especially for that feeling.

Do you use any of these Fool-favored apps? And if you have suggestions for others, we’d love to hear them!

Contributing to Amazon’s Most Well-Read City

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Malcolm Gladwell, one of the many authors to visit Fool HQ, spoke at a recent member event.

By Laurie Street

Whether it’s a biography or the latest best-seller, I’ve always loved to read. My constant desire for a good book in hand explains why Bookie Monster is one of my favorite employee benefits here. Though I’ve already praised this program on this blog, my curiosity was recently sparked when I learned that Amazon rated Fool HQ’s home of Alexandria, Virginia, #1 on their list of most well-read cities — for the third year in a row!

Our company prides itself in helping Fools expand their knowledge. We cover order requests through Amazon and, in just three months, we’ve purchased nearly 300 books at a tab close to $4000. These statistics apply to both work-related materials and personal requests.

Free books are wonderful to any employee who enjoys professional or leisurely reading, but I love that Bookie Monster also celebrates our core value of Collaboration. Washington Business Journal lists Amazon’s top three sellers at the time this data was published, and I know of several Fools reading at least two — Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch and Veronica Roth’s Divergent. Both of these novels have sparked conversations that I’ve been a part of, as well as a few that I’ve overheard around the office.

Speaking of in-depth discussions, all Fools have the opportunity to attend monthly Book Club meetings that are supported by Bookie Monster. We recently finished John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, and a small group of Fools attended a showing of the newly-released film. Bookie Monster is also important to our Speaker Series, which we’ve hosted since 2008. This series has allowed Fools to interact with amazing entrepreneurs and businesspeople, many of whom are writers. Fools can order the author’s work and read it before their visit. Bookie Monster encourages Fools to explore new subjects and discussions.

While Alexandria is certainly an large area with lots of voracious readers, I can’t help but think the Fool contributed at least a little to its acclaimed title. As The Motley Fool grows, this program continues to be successful; in fact, 119 new Fool employees have ordered at least one book so far.

Would you become more of a reader if your company offered this benefit?

We’ll Send You on a Fool’s Errand — In a Good Way!

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Fool's ErrandBy Laurie Street

Whether it’s checking off a grocery list or paying the bills, everyone knows the definition of “errand” all too well. Here at the Fool, we’re familiar with a different kind of chore called “Fool’s Errand,” and it’s definitely not your typical mundane task.

The Fool’s Errand is a special prize — two weeks off and $1,000. So what are the rules? The chosen Fool must leave immediately and have no contact with the office, with the money only available if these guidelines are followed. The generous gift of $1,000 can be used for anything — plane tickets, hotel rooms, skydiving lessons…you name it! Past winners have visited Northern California wineries; Captiva Island, Florida; snowy Vermont; and even the Dominican Republic. Some Fools have simply enjoyed a staycation, but no matter where they go, winners are always encouraged to spend a few hours on our company’s purpose — to help the world invest better. Winners have rebalanced their 401k, managed an educational savings account, or chatted with a parent about retirement preparation.

At the end of each monthly company-wide meeting, approximately ten Fools are chosen at random and entered to win. To be eligible, the Fool must be employed here for at least one year. Names are entered as many times as the number of years each person has worked here, so if a Fool has been around for fifteen years there’s obviously a better chance for a win.

I can assure you that this process isn’t fixed. Names are drawn through a computer generated system, and the live announcement is always entertaining. I once saw the names laid face-down on a table, and a slightly-wonky remote control helicopter chose the winner upon landing. Another time, a Fool member visited with her dogs, and each contender was given a dog treat. Whomever the Labrador ran to first was deemed the winner.

Obviously, the Fool’s Errand fulfills our core value of Fun, but it also fulfills two business purposes. First, even with an unlimited vacation policy, some Fools find it hard to fully disconnect from the office. We want to encourage our employees to take the occasional break. Second, it’s important for any company to be prepared for an employee’s sudden, unexpected absence (illnesses and family emergencies happen). By knowing that we can cover for a Fool who needs to take time off with short notice, we know there are no gaps in our workflow.

If your company would like to try a similar program, you can start small. Maybe offer a random employee a day off as a reward for great work. Show your employees that time off is important — and they’ll return with fresh ideas and greater motivation.

Announcing a New Important Role

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Experience caring for ducks is desired, but not a requirement.

The Motley Fool is growing and growing fast.  With any rapid growth, scale and efficiency are key.  We are desperately seeking a new Fool to investigate, test, and learn their way in to creating value by finding those little gaps in our systems and processes.  In this new and important role you will absolutely be improving systems and processes, establishing new systems and processes, or combining systems and processes to create efficiency.

Initial Project List Draft:

Have you ever begun the walk or drive from Starbucks to the office and a tiny drip of coffee magically, intentionally pops from the edge of your cup on to your finger?  We at The Fool have noticed that the amount of time we spend cleaning up the coffee spills from the annoying, magical drip from a Starbucks cup is small amounts of time that add up over the year.  The successful candidate will experiment with the Starbucks coffee cup to determine why that drip appears, seems to have a mind of its own, and is intent on attaching itself to my shirt or desk. There it is again, what the heck is going on with the devil drip?

We at The Fool are long time users of Microsoft’s incredible invention, The Outlook.  Long ago The Outlook discovered that the most efficient way to get from one meeting to the next is to allow zero seconds in between meetings.  It is a real stroke of genius, meetings can start right away one after the other will absolutely no breaks.  At The Fool we haven’t yet figured out how to master the lofty goal The Outlook has laid out for us.  We need to experiment with running super-fast, cloning, time travel, or riding cheetahs to take full advantage of TOKES – The Outlook Kalendaring Efficiency System.

Everyone knows that interns are super smart, get great work done, and…wait for it… we don’t ever have to spend time getting to know them or their name.  There is a lot of time spent at The Fool getting to know each other, having fun together, and collaborating.  This could be just a big waste of time.  We’d like to transition our full work force to be interns who do great stuff AND we don’t have to get to know them on any personal level.  Each intern will be named Templeton I (male) or Temptress I (female).  We will need to train them not to eat all of our free food, though.

One pass through our office and you can see that the more computer monitors we have the more efficient we are.  We’d like to move to a point where every Fool has six monitors minimum.  Math and strength will be key for this task.  There is a lot of ordering and heavy lifting in this role.   You will need to be able to count the number of monitors currently on people’s desk, subtract that number from six, and then go get that new number for setup.  Again there is a first number, some subtraction with that number and the goal number, and then a determination of need based on the final number.  Pivot table training will be provided through FoolU, our internal University.

We are big on standing desks, treadmill desks, and cycling desks.  This promotes health and yes, speed!  With speed comes getting things done faster.  We know that when we combine our core values with great ideas amazing things happen.  Fun, Competitive, and Collaborative are two of our core values and, well,

why should they be a part of everything?  We’d like to take this to the next level with the Fool Sports Desk.  In this scenario you will be able to play full court basketball, soccer, and tennis while using your laptop.  Fools can work, play, compete, collaborate, get healthy, and win.  We are winners.

If these are the types of projects that get you excited and ready for systems, processes, efficiency, strategery, systems, and process then apply now!

Core Value #4 : Fun – Revel in Your Work

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FunThe Fool is a fun place to work. We believe that life and work cannot be separated, and rather than balancing, we try to integrate them.  We want all Fools to think about how they can add fun to their day and how they can love their work.  Everyone is encouraged to take time out of their day to socialize, play, exercise, create, or relax.

It’s important to create friendships within the company.  Understanding, and maybe even liking, each other is going to make us a better, more productive, and happier company. We ask about friends in our employee engagement survey twice a year.

The number one way that we encourage fun is to ensure that each Fool is actually in a job they love.  It’s fun to take a break but we also want people to love what they do.  If you ever talk to our Chief Investing Officer, Andy Cross, you will know that he loves investing and it’s fun for him every single day.  The same is true of many Fools.  Laura, a member of our business intelligence team, loves data – LOVES IT!  I’m serious! Just ask her a question about Excel and her excitement could launch the space shuttle.

It thrills us when someone will describe themselves as an investing nerd or a tech geek or marketing dweeb – all a little self-effacing, sure, but it shows that they have a lot of themselves wrapped up in their jobs and have maybe more fun with it than socially acceptable.

Fun also has a very direct business purpose.  It decreases burnout, increases collaboration, and improves employee retention – WIN!

1)      Do we hire for this value?

Yes.  We try through both our application process and in the interview to learn more about you and see your personality.  This one is easily misinterpreted by many candidates (please don’t tell me a beer pong story).  We do want to know what makes your eyes light up inside and outside of work.  I don’t judge what you do for fun – I just want to see that you don’t take yourself too seriously.

 2)      Will we fire for this value? 

This is the value where I get the most questions on our monthly culture tour.  I explain at the beginning of the tour that values are ONLY really values if you will hire and fire for them.  Everyone nods as we discuss Collaborative, Innovative, Honest and Competitive.  Then we get to FUN!  It’s easy for our visitors to see that this is a fun atmosphere and to understand why fun could be a desirable value, but I almost always get a sideways glance and either concerned whisper or snarky comment here – “You fire for fun?”  It seems unbelievable in a business context – sure you value honesty like that, but fun?  Really?

Yes, really.  You don’t need to be the person leading the conga line (that’s my job) – but if you are cancerous to the culture and are making your coworkers miserable, our paths will soon diverge.

3)      Can you see and feel this value walking through the office?

Yes, fun is probably the easiest value to see as you walk through the office.  We have our game room, massage room, and nap room, but it really lives everywhere. From my desk right now I can see 1) large inflatable pool toys (swan, orca, shark, walrus, turtle) 2) a Nerf gun battle 3) several art pieces created by Fools at a happy hour 4) Five board games 5) wizard’s chess, wands and broomsticks (Firebolt and Nimbus) 6) a dozen jester hats.

The other part is just the feeling.  As I’m writing the post I hear laughter coming from the tech team sitting next to me – and yes, they are talking about code.  Behind me Lee is laughing about an upcoming event that he’s planning. It’s hard to sit here for more than five minutes without hearing fun.  I think fun is reason that we are consistently voted one of Washington DC’s best places to work.

4)      Is the value referenced frequently?  When was the last time?

It’s certainly referenced through the constant laughter and passion of Fools every day, but the purpose of this question is more systemic.  How do we ensure that Fun is constant?  One of my favorite Culture Club rules is “If you have to make it mandatory, you have failed to make it compelling.” It’s also frequently used as a tie breaker.  When there is a decision to make about anything from strategy to time management the kicker question is frequently “Which one is more fun for you?  Do that one!”

Please note that our values are not actually rank-ordered.  I call this #4 to help blog readers keep track.  See the full list of values at Core Values to Live By.