Last week was a big week for us here at The Motley Fool! We celebrated FoolFest, our annual member event, with over 300 Fools that traveled far and wide. In addition to breakout sessions, panel discussions, and fun meet and greet opportunities, we were also lucky to hear from some dynamic speakers.
FoolFest introduced us to the bestselling authors behind interesting ideas like the science of habit; rethinking situations that cause financial stress; and six commonalities of entrepreneurial success. So what exactly are these books and who are their authors?
1. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Charles Duhigg, award-winning New York Times reporter, explores scientific discoveries behind why habits exist and how they can be broken in The Power of Habit.To overcome habits, Duhigg says that you must understand the cues that trigger it; the routine that fulfills it; and the rewards – or feelings – that you receive from it. Duhigg explained the cycle with his own example of eating a cookie every afternoon. By learning to analyze this daily action, he realized that it wasn’t the actual chocolate chips he craved – it was the social interactions in the cafeteria. A certain time in the late afternoon was his cue and, once he understood this habit, Duhigg set out to reconstruct it. Instead of heading to the cafeteria, he now finds colleagues to chat with around his desk. With his new routine, Duhigg hasn’t had a cookie in over 6 months.
Though habits are certainly personal, businesses also use the science of habit to influence what consumers buy. They collect data based on where customers live, household incomes, marital status, and whether or not a shopper has children. Stores like Target can then predict times that will most influence these customers to use coupons or see advertisements.
Do you think you could change your habits? Duhigg argues, “The key to exercising regularly, losing weight, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive, building revolutionary companies and social movements, and achieving success is understanding how habits work.” This book offers a helpful perspective if you’re curious to reform your routine.
2. The Creator’s Code by Amy Wilkinson
It took five years for Amy Wilkinson – strategic advisor, entrepreneur, and lecturer at Stanford University – to write her first published book. In The Creator’s Code, Wilkinson shares academic research along with six essential skills that have turned small concepts into big companies. Over 200 interviews and examples from corporations including PayPal, Airbnb, Tesla Motors, and Dropbox support Wilkinson’s list of traits that lead to great entrepreneurship .
What’s Wilkinson’s bottom line? Anyone can attain entrepreneurial success but it takes hard work. One of the skills that Wilkinson focused on during her FoolFest interview was “Failing Wisely.” She’s passionate about the importance of placing small bets to test ideas and build resilience. She said to the audience, “The people who can be very comfortable about experimenting and testing through are the ones who will succeed.” Whether it’s on our marketing team or among Member Service Fools, we’re constantly testing ideas at The Motley Fool. We, too, believe in consistent testing to find big wins among little mistakes.
3. The Behavior Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things with Money by Carl Richards
Emotions are easy to relate to finance. Debt causes stress for a lot of people, as do major financial decisions like buying a home or paying college expenses. Carl Richards argues that emotion interferes with making smart financial decisions, and he defines “the behavior gap” as the phenomenon between what we should do and what we actually do.
One of the best takeaways from Richards’ presentation was the importance of timing. Should you really be talking about finances with your partner first thing when you get home from work? Probably not. Why? Because you’re tired. Make financial decisions a discussion when you’re energized and clear-minded, or else you’re not setting the situation up for the smartest results.
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In addition to physical and mental wellness, we strive to keep Fools’ financial health on the upswing. Thanks to our Foolish Learning and Development team, Fools recently celebrated “Financial Health Day” by budgeting their workdays to learn more about our employee benefits, attend educational workshops, and participate in office hours with Foolish financial planners.
Classes on the agenda were all Fool-taught and included How to Buy a Home, Couples & Cash, Foolish Family Finances, and Estate Planning: Wills, Trusts, and Health Care Powers of Attorney – Oh, My! One of the most popular classes was Living Cheap, which was hosted by Rule Your Retirement advisor Robert Brokamp.
Here are 3 tips from this session that can help you, too, cut your expenses:
1. Monitor your spending every day. One Foolish reader wrote, “If you do this for 30 days, it can change your life. Also, that feeling of being in complete control of your finances is a real self-confidence boost.”
2. Food is one of your biggest expenses. Make a master list of what you absolutely need every week, and try not to stray from it when you’re shopping. A wise Fool told us during the class, “It’s not a value if half of it goes bad.”
3. “Use Stuff You No Longer Want to Buy Something You Covet.” Take a look around your house and make note of what you don’t use anymore. Consider selling an item on Craiglist or to a friend, then put the profit toward purchasing something you need.
It could be difficult to host a similar event at your own organization, especially if you don’t work in the finance industry. However, a few of the quick challenges that were introduced throughout our day would be easy to recreate. Tasks that were completed in exchange for raffle tickets included signing into your 401K account and confirming or adjusting the contribution; accessing your free credit score; developing a strategy to get out of debt; downloading our expense system’s app; and confirming correct personal information in our HR platform.
Learning more about your HR tools will help employees understand all of the benefits your company has to offer. Encouraging a dialogue about personal finance – whether it’s providing helpful website links or hosting a full-fledged Financial Health Day like us – will only profit your employees’ well-beings.