Are we experiencing a correction? Can you make money betting on sports? Is your dog a trick dog? Can sadness lead to pride? This show is heavy on the Motley, Fool!
To catch full episodes of all The Motley Fool's free podcasts, check out our podcast center. To get started investing, check out our quick-start guide to investing in stocks. A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on March 9, 2022.
David Gardner: Who lives, who dies, who tells your story runs the poignant lyric from the American hit musical, Hamilton. Who tells your story? Well, storytelling has been at the heart of this podcast for many of the 350 weeks and counting we have shared together, but it didn't occur to me until last year to start a new episodic series that will feature some of your favorite Motley Fool personalities telling their story. Because regardless of who lives, who dies, and the truth is we all do, the unanswered question is, who tells your story? I thought, well, why not have them do so? Why not have you do so this week? Bill Mann, Auri Hughes where did you come from? If you had to tell your story in just 10 sentences, how would you tell it? What does the stock graph of your life look like? What were the three key moments that made you into the investor you are today? Telling their stories, Volume 4 kicks off this week only on Rule Breaker Investing.
Welcome back to Rule Breaker Investing. Thank you so much for joining with us this week. Suffering Fools gladly and Fools is in the plural because I'm joined by my two friends, Bill Mann and Auri Hughes, and we're going to get to know Bill and Auri a lot better this week. This is just a delight, this series. For me selfishly, I don't have to do that much work, I just come up with a few questions and I just listen and have fun interviewing. They're the ones during the work. They've put together the 10 sentences that tell their story. They've thought about the stock graph of their life, et cetera. Unless I screw this up and I don't think I did the first three volumes, I think we'll have a very enjoyable show for you today. It's fun because a lot of people know Bill Mann since he's worked at the Fool longer than I have just about, and not as many know Auri Hughes, who's worked at the Fool several years and I got to know Auri for a good year or two in the office before we closed down our offices, I haven't seen Auri in a couple of years, but such a talented analyst who's helped out on Rule Breakers and other services. A fun contrast of something old and something new this week. Can't think of that without thinking about something blue this month as well, but if you're a regular listener, if you heard last week, you know what I'm talking about.
Anyway, something again, old, something new. Although I don't think Bill is that old, he's younger than I am and I hope I'm not that old. In fact, if you find yourself having enjoyed this week's episode, please know that the previous three volumes featured Emily Flippen, Rick Munarriz, Jason Moser, Matt Argasinger, Aaron Bush, and Tim Beyers, and no doubt, I will keep this series up. This is the first appearance of Telling Their Stories in 2022, but I suspect it will not be the last. It's a great opportunity for me to introduce you to many different Motley Fool personalities. One of the things I really appreciate is that not all of us were raised directly as investors or expected to be an investment analyst when we're going through grade school or even college, and so it's that Motley mix of different people and how they come to love the stock market, and ultimately for each of them, have come to work here at the Motley Fool, which is so very Motley, and that's clearly something that runs not just through this week, but through this podcast and through our company's history. If you are new to this series, I'll just refresh. There are three building blocks that will make up each of my conversations this week.
The first is the story of your life in 10 sentences, so both Bill and Auri have crafted their 10 sentences, we'll talk through those a bit. Then we'll go to something that makes even more sense for investors because both Bill and Auri have graphed the stock graph of their lives. While you won't be able to see it, I hope I'll be illustrative and we'll talk you through the ups and downs, the 52-week highs and lows. It's really up to them to speak to whatever aspects of their lives that they'd like to, and that's always a delight. Then the final building block for each of these interviews is the three key moments to becoming the investor that you are today. Well, we're going to be featuring Bill and Auri. It's not a bad reflection for you, dear Fool. Ask yourself if you haven't already, what are the three key moments that have made me the investor that I am today? Probably a lot of a fourth or a fifth or this list will change overtime, and I suspect even Bill or Auri might answer differently five years from now but it's not five years from now, and it's definitely not 30 years from now, this week on this podcast, it is right now. Here is my first guest. Bill, it's so good to see you again.
Bill Mann: David, I haven't seen you in a long time. I miss you, my friend.
David Gardner: Thank you. Here we are seeing each other over Zencastr, which is the platform we use to record our podcast where we can see each other, but selfishly we're only allowing each other to see our beautiful faces, not all of our listeners because this podcast remains audio-only.
Bill Mann: I didn't need to put the suit on, is what you're saying.
David Gardner: You look great, Bill, you always do.
Bill Mann: I'm in a trucker hat and sweats. I'm glad I anticipated.
David Gardner: Well, Bill, before we launch into the story of you in 10 sentences, could you just briefly remind our listeners, I see you many a day, practically every day, it feels like, on Motley Fool Live. I know you're spending a lot of your time there, but can you just briefly remind our listeners of what you're calling and responsibilities are at the Motley Fool?
Bill Mann: Yes, you see me every day doing Motley Fool Live. My primary area is I'm the Director of Small Cap Research for the company, and I spend most of my time researching companies in the Everlasting set of portfolios that we have at The Motley Fool. I am our resident internationalist, I run the Global Partners investing service, and assist in the managing of others in the Everlasting suite of services wherever I can.
David Gardner: Wonderful. Bill, what is a typical day in the life for you these days? Morning Show feels like 9:00AM-11:00AM Eastern many a morning. Are you then just going diving in these spreadsheets, listening to earnings conference calls, how are you spending your time in a random day?
Bill Mann: Well, David, as you know, even for those of us who are tremendous extroverts, a 9:00-11:00 every single day, it takes a lot out of you, so usually between 11:00 and say 12:00-1:00 in the afternoon I just do some reading. Either I'm reading company reports or I actually do a little bit of pleasure reading during that time. I really I'm a firm believer in quick little recharges as you go throughout the day.
David Gardner: Love it.
Bill Mann: I spend a lot of time researching companies and thinking about ways in which, I know this sounds like doom scrolling a little bit, but I do spend a lot of time during my days trying to figure out the ways in which things I've said before are wrong. It's a powerful thing to do.
David Gardner: Can you give a recent example?
Bill Mann: Well, I was 100 percent wrong about my thought that Russia wasn't going to invade Ukraine. I didn't believe it. Maybe that's not a fair example, it's really been something that's been very much on the front of my mind as it has been I know for you and for people everywhere.
David Gardner: Well, thank you for that, Bill. Again, thank you for, how many years of service at the Motley Fool?
Bill Mann: I came in August of 1999, so I can't even just take my shoes off to count enough anymore. That is coming up on 23 years.
David Gardner: Thank you so much on behalf of so many listening right now, who have enjoyed you grown up with you, learned so much from you as I have over more than two decades and counting at the Fool. I'm going to say without further ado, let's wind it up here, build the story of your life in 10 sentences. William Hany Mann III, tell your story.
Bill Mann: Third, that's right. My story is exactly 150 words, which I believe was at least part of the task. I am privileged. I'm dyslexic, I'm asthmatic, and I don't fear failure. When I was little, I was allergic to everything. I even spent some time in an oxygen tent. My grandmother took care of me on those days. She was confined to a wheelchair by arthritis, and she was an educator. On days when the weather would cause my asthma attacks, I'd sit with my grandmother and she would repeat her favorite social studies lessons. I was confined to a small house in Shelby, North Carolina, but I learned about the world and I learned about not giving up. Most people who study languages, which was my course of study, learned the basics. I approached fluency in German and Japanese in part because of the lessons from my grandmother. I never worried about using the wrong word or making a mistake. Being unworried about failure, actually helps me get past the learning disability that I didn't know I had until I was 30.
David Gardner: Wow. Thank you for sharing that, Bill. I'm just picturing, what was your grandmother's name?
Bill Mann: Her name was Elizabeth Kraver.
David Gardner: What was her background and were you her favorite grandchild?
Bill Mann: Yes. By a lot. It really wasn't anywhere close. I was her favorite grandchild. She had seven grandchildren and I was the second oldest. But I was a curious kid. I was probably a weird kid, but I was a curious kid and she loved challenging me and we would talk about cultures from around the world in this, really, I almost can't emphasize how small Shelby, North Carolina was at the time, and yet we traveled everywhere together, there in that little house.
David Gardner: Did those travels also become real travels, not just imaginative travels? Did you travel extensively as a kid with your family or not?
Bill Mann: Yes, absolutely. We had the opportunity from about the time I was 10, to travel many places. But my parents always had a philosophy which was we never just went to go hang out some place, we would always have a reason to go.
David Gardner: Great.
Bill Mann: If we were going to Germany, we read about the recent history where we were going. If we were going to New York, there would be a reason why, we would have to pick out in advance what we wanted to see at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So very much was able to manifest that interest into being able to go places, but it was always based on some level of education.
David Gardner: Did that same intentionality, Bill, and I'm assuming that came obviously from your father and mother. I would say we were much more itinerant travelers and much more real traditional tourist throughout in our family.
Bill Mann: I have legendary stories of your father dragging you and your siblings to shareholder meetings to meet CEOs.
David Gardner: There was some intentionality into that.
Bill Mann: You need to [laughs] give yourself some more credit than that.
David Gardner: But I'm curious Bill, did that same, I'm going to use the word again, intentionality, to that same degree was that also true of what happened in the household or how your parents raised you? Or was that just distinctive to the Mann family traveling circus?
Bill Mann: I think it was fairly distinctive to that part of our lives. We were classic gen-x kids, where we would wake up and my mom would say, Well, get out of the house, we'll see you tonight. We definitely had a lot of throwing rocks at things and building dams and seeing. We had a lot of unconstructed time, which I think is something that I value so much now. But there was really that component of our existence that was much more purposeful and intentful.
David Gardner: Did you start shaking off your allergies?
Bill Mann: I did. Probably when I was about 12, I started growing out of them, I still have them obviously, most people never really get rid of them, but yes, it stopped being debilitating for me about the time I turned 12. It was a really interesting thing having things open up to me, like being able to play basketball which in North Carolina, a big deal. [laughs] But I started all of those things a little bit late.
David Gardner: Bill, your facility with languages, is that something that came from your parents? I know, and we're going to get into this I'm quite sure in the stock graph of your life, but you have lived many different places and I got a two on the French AP, advance placement exam and two is not really good on a scale [laughs] of one to five, so I'm just not good at languages. I've always been impressed by people who are.
Bill Mann: Yeah, and I think a lot of that is just simply lacking the fear of making a mistake.
David Gardner: Love it.
Bill Mann: There are actual psychological studies that show that people speak languages better if they've had a sip of alcohol. That that inhibition, or that worry, or that need to be perfect, really actually, is the enemy of the good. For me, I wanted to learn German so much and I wanted to learn Japanese so much. If I didn't know the word, I would use a wrong word and maybe I'd get corrected, maybe I'd get away with it, maybe they would have absolutely no idea what I was saying because the word was that wrong. But it's amazing when you try just how much credit you get.
David Gardner: [laughs] Makes a lot of sense. Bill, when I think of you, I remember discovering you on our discussion boards and I'm not going to say that I was the talent agent who saw you. [laughs] How did you make your first YouTube video before, by the way, YouTube existed [laughs] and then you went viral and became famous. But at least within the Motley Fool ranks, I would say, Hey, there's this really bright guy posting on some of our AOL discussion boards. We should talk about maybe whether he'd like to do more of this, and there was this other guy who is also very bright.
Bill Mann: His son. [laughs]
David Gardner: Many of our listeners will not know what you just did there, but you just humorously reversed what I was going to say, I was going to say that your father has always been a very active, fun, Motley Fool member. He's comes to some of our events, he certainly have posted a lot on our forums back in the day.
Bill Mann: Yeah.
David Gardner: You were both worthy of hiring, although you were easier to higher than your dad back then, I think that's why we got you.
Bill Mann: Yes, exactly. I was at least [laughs] the second choice. [laughs] In fact, my name has always been TMFOtter on our board, my dad took the name Otter Potter.
David Gardner: Exactly.
Bill Mann: You can still find him that way.
David Gardner: Love it.
Bill Mann: He is a delightful, very thoughtful man. He's in retirement now, so he's writing more than ever. I would say that the influence of my dad, for example, when I was a senior in college, I was like, Dad, I think I'd like to go to law school, and he goes, No, you wouldn't. [laughs] Which sounds awful [laughs].
David Gardner: That's exactly what our dad said to us and I don't know if you know that. [laughs] Our dad was a banking lawyer and, Paul Gardner Junior, our dad, the one thing he said to his three kids was you're not allowed to be lawyers, you can be anything else.
Bill Mann: That's so great. My dad was a little bit more like this, Law school is not where you're going to go to figure out what you want to do. You are not putting off. Even if you don't know, and I think this is really important because now that I have kids who are in college and looking at college, you see how much pressure they have to seem like they know what they want to do, and you don't. You don't have that pressure at all. But at some point, and for my dad, it was my senior year of college, you don't get to keep putting off, even if you go do something that isn't exactly what you want to do, kicking that can down the road by trying to go to law school was not the best plan. If I pushed back, he would've said fine, but he just called by bluff and it was a gift actually, because that would've been a really bad choice for me.
David Gardner: It's also very expensive. It's a very expensive way to figure out what you actually want to do, isn't it?
Bill Mann: Yeah. Absolutely.
David Gardner: Bill, we're about to get the stock graph of your life, but I'm having too much fun with what you just threw down a few minutes ago. You mentioned, of course, dyslexia. I did not know that about you. I think it's amazing that you did not know that about you until the age of 30, thereby must hang a short tale. Can you give us a little bit more?
Bill Mann: Yeah, so I've really put a lot of credit on the fact that, a blame, should I say blame on my grandmother? God bless her, no. [laughs] That was less funny than I hoped it was going to be, let me start over. [laughs].
David Gardner: I know.
Bill Mann: I think that ultimately because I had learned in such an informal way from the time that I was little, I had all ways to work around what was actually a problem and I didn't realize it. I can tell you, David, that in two instances, it was very frustrating to me growing up because there were two things that I was unable to find a workaround for, the first of which was physics and the second was statistics. Physics class and statistics class were amazingly hard for me. They were really frustrating because I could not figure out why the base case building-block things that you're supposed to learn. Imagine someone who has dyslexia trying to figure out what a type 1 versus a type 2 error is every single time. For a lot of people, it's just obvious, but it really took a long time and it took until I was an adult, and I found myself getting very frustrated about things that I was unable to really process that I went to go see a doctor and the doctor goes, Well, yeah. You're dyslexic. [laughs] Wow.
David Gardner: That's just amazing Bill. You're reversing numbers, you're reversing letters as you are reading?
Bill Mann: That kind of thing.
David Gardner: That's how I had thought about dyslexia, that's what you're doing?
Bill Mann: Well, it's more of a processing type of difficulty that I have. I love to read, I read fine.
David Gardner: You're one of the better read people I know.
Bill Mann: Thank you.
David Gardner: You obviously read fast.
Bill Mann: Yeah, I do.
David Gardner: That's something else you do.
Bill Mann: Yeah, I do and I think because of that, it was not something that was evident, until I would run up against things that would just cause my brain to overheat and that's when we figured it out. David, it would've been really nice to know when I was in high school or college for certain things, when I could've used a little extra time, but I'd say it's worked out OK. I'm delighted now to be able to embrace it because I do know that what I have been able to do and how I've been able to analyze companies, for example, I do in fact start from a different place than a lot of people do.
David Gardner: Let's stay with stocks, Bill, but let's now go to the stock graph of your life. Now, for most of us, it starts somewhere in the lower left and goes somewhere to the upper right, over the course of time. I do trust that's the general flow of your stock graph.
Bill Mann: I. M dyslexic though, David. [laughs] Let's not assume anything.
David Gardner: I will not assume anything. [laughs] Where are you going to start us, over on the left somewhere?
Bill Mann: I would say the Bill Mann's stock graph starts high and ends high. We talked about my parents and my grandparents. My grandfather, my dad's father was the CFO of a publicly traded company, called Cannon Mills.
David Gardner: Cool.
Bill Mann: In fact, if you look in your closet, most likely you've got towels that say Cannon on them or sheets that have Cannon on them. That was an independent company. He was the one who, when I was young, bought me my first shares of stock, I remember shares of Cannon. I remember opening up the newspaper on Saturday because that's when the prices were listed, you would check then. Between my grandmother teaching me and my grandfather having us take an interest in what he was doing, I started from a really high point.
David Gardner: I get it.
Bill Mann: Then everything about me has been a disappointment [laughs] since then. How's right? [laughs]
David Gardner: You are the first in the history of the series to start higher than he ends on the ground. [laughs]
Bill Mann: That's right.
David Gardner: I don't think that's true of you Bill, [laughs] but it's your graph not mine, and [laughs] I appreciate your points. For those of us who do have different forms of privilege that in many cases we took for granted or didn't even know about when we were little kids, we can now look back and just realize what a special place we started from, obviously. Where is Shelby, North Carolina?
Bill Mann: It is about 40 miles West of Charlotte, North Carolina.
David Gardner: Then you mentioned it was smaller earlier. I've spent a lot of time in North Carolina, not nearly as much as you. I don't think I've ever driven through or past Shelby. I circle around Chapel Hill, lots of the east, but then again to Winston-Salem, the city that I married into. But I don't get that far West, Bill. You were telling me offline earlier, we're in the mountains.
Bill Mann: In the foothills.
David Gardner: Foothills.
Bill Mann: The foothills West of Charlotte. It's the home of Earl Scruggs who was a very famous musician. It's a wonderful little town. I'm actually surprised that you haven't been there because the college that is just outside of Shelby is called Gardner-Webb.
David Gardner: I'm aware of Gardner-Webb simply as a basketball fan because occasionally, they would make, and it's March, the tournament, the "March Madness Tournament", the NCAA tournament
Bill Mann: That's right.
David Gardner: But, yes, I didn't know where Gardner-Webb was. I didn't know it was a North Carolina school.
Bill Mann: It's actually in a town called Boiling Springs, which is just outside. Shelby is big enough for a suburb, and that's suburb is Boiling Springs, and that's where Gardner-Webb is.
David Gardner: Very cool, so your grandfather was a Chief Financial Officer?
Bill Mann: Yeah.
David Gardner: A numbers man?
Bill Mann: He was a numbers man, and my other grandfather was a farmer.
David Gardner: That's wonderful. You started this high. Let's progress forward, what do we happen upon next?
Bill Mann: The next spot on my graph was an interesting point, and it's a little bit lower, simply because I had a big moment right as I was graduating from college. It was this, I went to American University.
David Gardner: The AU.
Bill Mann: The AU, yeah.
David Gardner: Love it.
Bill Mann: I was in the school of International Service and I was studying to be a diplomat, and I'd taken the foreign service exam. This was all happening while my dad was like, "Don't you dare go to law school." [laughs] I passed and was waiting to hear what embassy I was going to go to, and there was this girl, David. I liked her quite a bit, and [laughs] she said, "You know, Bill, I like you quite a bit too, but I'm not coming to Chad with you and or wherever it is that you end up, I'm going to law school." That point of my life, it was a difficult decision, because I gave away a dream because I had met this person.
David Gardner: You sure did.
Bill Mann: I did marry her, we are still married, but it was a really important choice in my life, because-
David Gardner: Kind of a fork in the road as a very young man, Bill.
Bill Mann: Yeah, I gave up the things that I thought I should be doing for her. Then ironically, now she works at the State Department, so we still get that just on the other side of our family.
David Gardner: As you say, we had Dan Pancon last month talk about the power of regret. Any regrets about the decision not just to go to Chad? [laughs]
Bill Mann: I mean, when you put it that way. [laughs] No. I would say that I have gotten to do 90 percent of what I wanted to do then, but in an entirely different context married to the right person. There are things that I think about, but no, I have no regrets about that. But it was a very, very hard decision at the time.
David Gardner: All right. Bill, I'm imagining are alighting upon two more stops, before we get to the three key moments making you the investor you are today. Where are we headed next?
Bill Mann: We're going to the low point, David.
David Gardner: Okay.
Bill Mann: We have to hit it eventually.
David Gardner: Hero's journey.
Bill Mann: Yeah, hero's journey because here is the question.
David Gardner: You got to go to the underworld.
Bill Mann: Right, exactly. Here's the question that has not yet been answered. He gave up on his dream to go into the foreign service, so what did you do instead? What I ended up doing instead, was I became, after a couple of stops, a partner in a little telecommunications company in the late '90s. I know you remember the late '90s, telecommunications, was it. That was the place to be. Telecommunications was where the Internet was launching from. A lot of those businesses were just exploding in growth, and we were a little player, and we were deeply under capitalized. Which it turns out in that world, puts you at risk every single day, and so our business essentially failed.
David Gardner: Well, first of all, thank you for saying that. I talk about failure all the time on this podcast, because I've still picked more bad stocks than anybody in Motley Fool history. You can eventually maybe try to outlast being and out count me there [laughs]. But you and I share many things Bill, and one of the things we share is that we don't fear failure. Indeed, it liberates you to be you and do some crazy stuff, and especially I think it liberates entrepreneurs, there are a lot of crazy people and a bunch of those crazy people are under the subset of entrepreneur. They're willing to take the risk and try it out. You know what, many things don't work out, and we learn from that.
Bill Mann: Many things don't work out, but I still to this day, so it was the best business education I possibly could have gotten.
David Gardner: Wonderful.
Bill Mann: Because we learned at that point in time, how bad outcomes can come from good decisions.
David Gardner: Bill, my recollection is that you were not on U.S. soil right? This is a telecom company where?
Bill Mann: It was based actually here in Virginia. But my primary work was both in Jakarta and in Karachi, which are places that not a whole lot of people go for tourism reasons. But yes, in fact, this is where this low point starts to curve back up. In Karachi, when I would get into my hotel room at night, you're not going out again. It was, you are in, you're locked up, it's not a particularly safe place to be in the late '90s, and so I started messing around on the Motley Fool message boards. That was the point in time when I discovered that Motley Fool was putting my certainly crazy, [laughs] theories about investing up on the Fool. I would like to say that that was purposeful [laughs] but to me, it really was the moment I saw the Motley Fool and what you all were doing at the time. And watching people learn together in an unconventional way, wrapping back to how I have learned from the start. This is a place where I would like to spend some time, so that was the low point, David. [laughs] How wrong I was [laughs]
David Gardner: How lucky we've been, Bill.
Bill Mann: I was a value by.
David Gardner: Thank you for sharing that. Do you remember your first day at the Fool?
Bill Mann: I do. Actually, it was in August of 1999 and I came in and I was sitting directly across from a guy named Dale Wettlaufer, who I know you remember, an absolutely delightful, very smart thinker. I've kept up with Dale. He is a wonderful human being. He is also a demonstrative of human being, and so having been on the discussion boards, I thought I was going to come into a place that was going to be very calm, very collegial, and Dale come storming in, and sits down and start screaming at his own computer screen, like this far away for me. [laughs] Not hi, nice to meet you. He's just screaming at no one. I thought, have I completely misjudged [laughs] what I have gotten myself into.
David Gardner: I said something wrong during the elevators and I don't know, who can know.
Bill Mann: [laughs]
David Gardner: Bill, one thing we're never going to have enough time on a single podcast is to hear all of your stories and what a wonderful story teller you are. That's why you fit so well into this series and you're bringing memories back for me, just mentioning Dale. Such a wonderful man and a great friend of The Fool over the years. We should close this one out, where are we going to finish it? The stock graph of your life.
Bill Mann: I think we have to engage in some recency bias and take stock of where I am right now.
David Gardner: Great.
Bill Mann: That is this, maybe after that first day with Dale Wettlaufer yelling it'd be, but not yelling at me. I don't feel like I have worked in 22 years. I wake up in the morning, I get to talk to Fools on the morning show, I get to comment, I get to look for companies to treasure hunt, it's stressful at times. Not to say that it isn't, but it is a delightful way to have spent my professional career. I'm at an all-time high and tomorrow, I will be at another all-time high and the day after that is the weekend, but then after that, the next market day will be another all-time.
David Gardner: [laughs] Well, that's a wonderful way to close it out, Bill. In addition to your wonderful history, the full-year ability to tell stories. I so appreciate your positivity. I think we have a lot of rational optimists. Those are words of Matt Ridley, the author and friend of the Fool, has come through, spoken the Fool before. But I think of you as a classic rational optimist. There's a lot of rationality in you Bill, and you are somebody who is not afraid of failure and you recognize good things are ahead. Obviously it's a hard time in the world right now, so it's especially good to hear where you are, that you are at all-time highs. I'd like to say, I feel the same way myself, but we know that there's a lot going on. Speaking of a lot going on, I can't imagine how many things have shaped you into the investor you are today. I'm picturing you. I'm making this up. You are there in a rocking chair next to your grandmother on a rocking chair and a balcony and foothills overlooking, and you're talking, you're probably already being shaped as an investor. But to get those moments down to three key moments that have made you the investor you are today, Bill Mann, what is the first?
Bill Mann: I think the first may have been my grandfather who is the farmer who everyone called Big Joe and Big Joe, I don't know that his salary or what he earned as a farmer. I don't know if that annually ever included a comma in it, but he retired very comfortably. The reason he did, I asked him about it at one point and it was because he had bought three-stocks and three-stocks only. The first of which was John Deere tractor, the second was a little company called North Carolina National Bank, which today is Bank of America?
David Gardner: Yes. That's after about 17 different acquisition.
Bill Mann: That's right, exactly. The third was a little insurance company based in Winston-Salem called Jefferson Pilot. Jefferson Pilot used to put on the ACC tournament every single year. My grandfather's analysis, I'm not saying he was a deep financial analyst, but I am saying that he figured that if they were wealthy enough to put on the ACC tournament, it was an OK place for him to put his money. Those were the only three companies he ever owned. He would sit down with his financial guide and the guy would say, "Big Joe, I think you'd be need to be diversified." My grandfather would say, "Are you saying that any of these three companies are in trouble?" The guy would say, "No," he would say, "Thanks.".
David Gardner: [laughs] Great.
Bill Mann: That was a lesson. It was a lesson early on. I don't think he ever looked at the share prices, but he bought quality and held on tight and it was transformational for him.
David Gardner: Well, and I bet you just transformed a few minds listening to you right there. These kinds of experiences, the reason we like to tell our stories is because they influence. We're all such social creatures, human beings, we're also bandwagons. We're constantly bandwagoning on each other and sometimes subconsciously. Bill, I bet you just got a few more people to hold their stocks are a little bit longer. I hope you did.
Bill Mann: I hope so.
David Gardner: What's key moment Number 2?
Bill Mann: Key moment Number 2 came in December of 2001 and I had the privilege after Enron collapsed. Senator Byron Dorgan from North Dakota, asked me to come and testify to talk about what it was that individual investors could have possibly seen, in order to have figured out that Enron was not what they said that we're going to do and this was an incredible honor. I still think it's a little bit baffling that I was asked at that time to come and do it. I came back to the office and I was with our General Counsel, Lawrence Greenberg and I came back and sat down a little full of myself and sat down and opened up my computer. That's when I realized that a company that I've been writing very positively about was down 97 percent. At the same exact moment that I was being lauded as someone who is an accounting expert, who could talk about fraud, I stepped into one myself. It was a reminder to me, one, the limits of knowledge and two, the need to remain humble all the time. Because David, as you know, we all have bad outcomes when it comes to investing. Sometimes those outcomes are due to our having not seen something that we should have seen and sometimes it's just luck and bad luck. You have to give yourself the grace that what has happened to you could very well be the latter and not the form.
David Gardner: One of the things I remember from Peter Lynch's book One Up On Wall Street was just he disconnected process from outcome. This is the designated hitter in baseball, which you can make good arguments either way about. But that idea that you can do all the right things and it can fail. You can also do lots of crazy stupid things and it can work. While it's very hard to replicate those things over and over, most of the time you do good things. I think good things will happen, and vice versa the other way. But it is important, and especially Bill, if you're going to live with a life not fearing failure. I'm actually thinking back to that day and I loved that you centered on that day as key moment number 2, to experience the highest and the lowest all at the same time, and realize, in some ways, you were both deserving and undeserving of both of those outcomes on that very day. Loved that moment.
Bill Mann: Yeah, and David, I think what's important for people to understand whenever you're thinking about any investing, any pursuit that you go on that if you are making good decisions. I coached soccer and one of the things I always talk about is like, I don't care about the score. I just wanted us to create scoring opportunities. If you create scoring opportunities, you should win. If you don't win, that's OK. But all we can do is continue to try and create those opportunities. If they don't happen, maybe we screwed up. Maybe something bad happened, but you got to let it go because if you focus on that part of the process, things are going to work out for you in the long term.
David Gardner: Are you a winning soccer coach?
Bill Mann: It's completely unfair that you should ask me that, [laughs] but yes. Yes. I have.
David Gardner: Of course, you are.
Bill Mann: Of course, I am.
David Gardner: I mean, I agree with your philosophy. I was just say true that, but then I thought rotten, say true that, which is glib. [laughs] I should ask on behalf of our listeners, if you're a winning soccer, Coatesville.
Bill Mann: I have some trophies yes. In the world of youth soccer, a lot of times victory has come based on who ends up coming out onto your field day one. A lot of the parents weren't with me on this, but I had the philosophy that every kid on my team had to be better at something at the end of the year than they were at the beginning. Because these kids are all starting at very different places, I mean, these scores, nobody would remember the score from two minutes after we walked off the field, it's snack time. Like they're happy, but if they are playing better, they've got something to feel good about for themselves. That's what I think is important.
David Gardner: Well done key moment Number 3.
Bill Mann: So I thought long and hard about what might key moment Number 3 is. I actually do think that it was your brother having me come and join him when we were at a very early part of our company as a publishing business, joining him on Hidden Gems. I know that you've spoken about this as well. There is both liberating and it is constraining to have to come up with a stock idea on a schedule. I have a hard time giving your brother credit for stuff I hope you know that but [laughs] but I very much do give him credit for these because I don't know that it was 100 percent clear that I would've been good at it. But he believed in me and just getting into that process of having to have a process, and that process worked on a schedule, I think has made me a much better investor today than I was the day I showed up to start to ride.
David Gardner: Bill Mann, it was a delight to have you on Rule Breaker Investing this week and to tell us your story talk us through in exactly 150 words, where you came from to talk through the stock graph of your life. I know there's a lot more than we can ever have time for, but I so enjoy your storytelling. You did that throughout and congratulations again on being the investor that you are today, renowned across Fooldom and certainly outside of Fooldom and to think back to the time you testified before congress, other things like that probably are in your future as well in our future. Bill, thank you again for your leadership, for your friendship, and for your Foolishness.
Bill Mann: Thanks, David, fool-on brother.
David Gardner: All right. Next up to bat this week. It is baseball season, I guess, wait is it baseball? Baseball is not being played at a professional level right now. That makes me sad anyway. Next up to bat this week on telling their stories is my friend Auri Hughes. Auri, great to have you to Rule Breaker Investing.
Auri Hughes: Hey David, thanks for having me on. I'm excited to be here.
David Gardner: I'm excited to be here in bat because you've shared with me some of the elements will be talking about like the stock graph of your life. I'm looking forward to getting right into that, but before we do that, Auri could you just acquaint listeners? You've not been at the Fool as long as Bill Mann. So people may not know you as well as some people anyway, know Bill Mann. Auri, how are you spending your time at the Fool these days?
Auri Hughes: Now, I'm working on three services. I'm working on a service called Fintech Fortunes, which I helped produce the idea and get off the ground with the full name Buck Hartzell, who's been here for a while and he's someone that's great to work with, very thoughtful. Then I'm working with your brother on Everlasting Stocks and another service called Everlasting Firecrackers, which is particularly exciting because it's microcap stocks. So we're in a smaller market cap range. Those are three services I spend most of my time researching and vetting ideas and looking at companies for.
David Gardner: Wonderful. Auri at the top of the show this week, I mentioned that I had the pleasure of being in full HQ with you for about a year or two before we had shut it all down. So it's a couple of years later, I haven't seen you in person in a while, but I have fond memories and yeah, you joined us on the Rule Breakers team for a little while and I was just checking the date. The date was February 27th, of the year 2020. Auri that's when you proposed Sea Limited ticker symbol SE for Motley Fool Rule Breakers. I agreed with you that day and while it's been a volatile stock has had some high highs and it's had some low lows. Like a lot of Rule Breakers over the last year. This has been a big winner. A lot of Fools own the stock and if they bought it the day we recommended it two years ago, just about this week in Rule Breakers up 161 percent with the market up 49 percent. Yes, that's one of the things that Auri Hughes has done, one of many for Motley Fool members. In fact, as long as I have you here Auri what do you think is Sea Limited these days?
Auri Hughes: Yes. It's a great company and I wasn't followed that much when I discovered it, and they had this exciting business model and they were copying, I think, some other successful business models and marketplaces. We had seen between Amazon and MercadoLibre, and they were replicating that in Southeast Asia. So I thought it was particularly exciting. It was founder-led and the founder had a sizable ownership in the business and it was growing at a remarkable rate. So I just thought this looks like it has a lot of potential to be a lot bigger, so it's particularly exciting and I thought it was very appropriate for Rule Breakers, so I was a static when you decided to put it at publish it to the service.
David Gardner: Thank you. This is a stock that hit a high of just over 350 and it wasn't long ago that that happened. It was somewhere around Halloween of last year, and of course, it has been more than cut in half since. Yet in it to win it for the only term that counts, the long term I continue to like where Sea Limited is today and the stock is more than a double from just two years ago, which I think I will take over any given two-year period but I'm sure some Fools who may have purchased at 300 or a little sadder when it's closer to 120 right now. It's just a reminder of these volatile times that we live in. Auri I'll love then to move into our format and ask you to share story of your life in 10 sentences or less. Are you ready?
Auri Hughes: Yes.
David Gardner: Alright. Auri Asante, Debris Hughes. Tell us your story.
Auri Hughes: Sentence 1, early interest in money aren't in sports. Sentence 2, raise in the suburbs of Northern Virginia. Sentence 3, first jobs were at Milwaukee, frozen, custard, in a RadioShack. Sentence 4, took my first snowboarding lessons, at 17. Sentence 5, I have a varsity letter in marketing competitions. Sentence 6, I attended the school of the scrappy George Mason University. Sentence 7, I had benefits while working in a basement. Sentence 8, working but lacking some fulfillment. Sentence 9, preparing for the opportunity. Sentence 10, hired at the Motley Fool.
David Gardner: Thank you for that. I know you've in particular focused on becoming a professional, which has been the process for you over the last 5-10 years, dreaming of working, we're going to talk about that a little bit. Dreaming being an investment analyst, but in fact being one, winning a competition where we'll talk about that in a sec. But let's go back Auri to growing up in Northern Virginia and thank you for sharing that. What were you like as a kid? If your parents were here, what would they be saying about Auri that you didn't have a chance because I restricted you to 10 sentences.
Auri Hughes: Yes. I think I was always intellectually curious, and I think I've always been interested in money in markets and understanding how they work. I think budgeting and saving money at a young age for things I wanted there was always of interest to me and how I could use money and grow it. I think when my mom explained compound interest to me and I was so fascinated because that was like, you do nothing and the money just makes more money [laughs] how does that work I think always had an interest in the markets and finance from a young age. I think the curiosity grew from there and I think that dictated my path going forward.
David Gardner: Auri do you have siblings?
Auri Hughes: Yes. I have one sister.
David Gardner: Okay. Does she share the same interests? I mean, sometimes we're very different from our siblings, but then again, it's the same parents, maybe the same culture growing up.
Auri Hughes: Yeah, I think my sister's probably more of a liberal arts person. I think she was more in the literature and learning languages while I was probably a little bit more logical, analytical focused but in the beginning, I was more artistic, I'd like to draw and then eventually I became more analytical going forward, enjoyed math and various things like that.
David Gardner: I think it's great to integrate both and clearly, you have done so. Tell me a little bit more about your first jobs.
Auri Hughes: Yeah, so my first job was at Milwaukee Frozen Custard. Obviously, it's a custard place local to where I'm from, and it was actually this enduring little business that hired a lot of the teenagers, very seasonal, as you could imagine, so spring and summer, the best months to be employed and probably the most busy, and the irony of that is then I took a job that RadioShack and of those two franchises, Milwaukee Frozen Custard is the only one still around to date. [laughs] I think it's a good case study as a business analyst, there as an investor to think about what is the enduring business and I think that Milwaukee's was local to our area. It has those homegrown roots, so it's just interesting.
David Gardner: It's funny you say that because of course when I hear the word Milwaukee, I think immediately of Wisconsin but you're talking about northern Virginia. Was that a shout-out to Wisconsin, the Frozen Wilds?
Auri Hughes: I think the original founder, I think they'd either lived in Milwaukee and the custard was really good and he thought like, I want to transport this today area where I am and, it's really good so I think that was the original thinking.
David Gardner: I'm wondering if that young entrepreneur at the time knew that his dream would outlive RadioShack. Auri [laughs] I know you are an analyst, you're an intellectually curious person. Have you ever looked back at RadioShack and figured out what exactly either happened or should have happened that didn't?
Auri Hughes: No. I think at the time of my life, what I was thinking about is just a means to make some extra money. It's interesting because I don't think they specialized in anything. Particularly, I think I remember when I was there, my manager was saying the highest margin items were the generic-like batteries and things like that but I guess for that model, it was really hard to have an enduring competitive advantage. Amazon must have really hurt. I lived through all this and I certainly remember Tandy, which was the parent company name for a while, and then I think they rebranded as RadioShack. Just googling as we're talking, I see the company did file for Chapter 11 in February of 2015.
David Gardner: Probably one of those stocks for a little while where people speculated in its penny-stock era that it might come back or maybe this will all work out often, they don't. This one definitely did not. Anyway, I always love American iconic brands, whether they work or whether they don't. It's a touchpoint for all of us to share and think together about what did happen and there are some good articles about why RadioShack went out of business, but enough about them. This was just a lark for you. This is like a summer job, right?
Auri Hughes: Yeah.
David Gardner: Did you keep working through school at George Mason? Did you have jobs? The people who impressed me most on college campuses are those that are doing something. They've got their side job, their side hustle. While sometimes they're putting themselves through school. Some of the most energetic people. Are you one of those or were you able to earn a full scholarship or how did you get to the GMU?
Auri Hughes: I am one of those and that's why I call it the school of the scrappy, I was talking to one of my friends who also went to George Mason and he said, the difference between us and I guess like the other Virginia schools that are like the kids that went to Mason, were always like doing something else or working on part-time jobs, ain't going to school or commuting from home, so like we were never just students, which I think the strength in that allows you to be resourceful, become independent, I started budgeting at an earlier age. You develop a lot of practical skills and my first internship turned into my job organically, but a lot of that I was doing while working, so I got some great working experience during the schooling process. I'm really happy about that.
David Gardner: Thank you for that school, for the scrappy. I do know the dean of the business school at George Mason, a very fine man, Maury Peiperl. George Mason University maybe a school not as well known nationally, but certainly in the DMV; that's for DC, Maryland, Virginia, in this large metropolitan area, George Mason is the largest school and if it were a stock I'd be buying today and I assume you are a proud alumni. College basketball fans since it's that time of year, we remember that George Mason made the final four [laughs] shockingly about 20 years ago in one of the truly fairy tale runs we've ever seen.
Auri Hughes: Yes, indeed.
David Gardner: Well you alluded to it earlier, Auri when you first came to the Fool, I remember that this was said of you so could you please give the story of getting- did you letter in a marketing competition? [laughs]You can get a Varsity letter? Explain.
Auri Hughes: Yes, I think it's really interesting because obviously, like many other people, I like sports. Sports get competitive, but there was never the best thing I was ever good at. But around my junior year I had started taking marketing classes and there's this organization called DECA, in which you would compete in these marketing competitions, where you would sit in front of a judge and you'd be given a case study and in 5-10 minutes, you would have to basically present as problem to this case study, go before the judge and the judge like ranks you and it's like, you have to think quickly, pitch, maybe you illustrate ideas, but you're putting business practice to work in a short period of time.
David Gardner: What were you pitching?
Auri Hughes: It would be like maybe one of the examples I remember was maybe it's a car dealership then their sales are down so it gives you a scenario and then you'd have to come up with like a promotion or a strategy to improve the car dealerships and then the judge, it's like a role-playing scenario with the judge and maybe the judge is the manager, but they're judging you on this conversation but it's in the form of like business role-play. It's really interesting and I did that, so I made it past the local level and then I won at the States and then I won at the national level, but then I didn't make it to the finals but it was like the furthest anyone in my school had made it in these competitions.
David Gardner: Spectacular.
Auri Hughes: Yes, so it was something I was really proud of later but it was like ended up getting a Varsity letter for this competition and it was really great for me because I had never been the best at anything and I was among the best at this and it fostered that interest in business, I had always had in marketing and just learning this trade at a young age. I'm really proud of it. I think it's an interesting a little fact.
David Gardner: What a highlight and yeah, Emily Flippen who was on this series last year, was really good at debating. I remember she was a national debating championships kind of a person. I guess the Fool has a knack for finding people who can compete at a national level and all these things are about speaking and thinking and there's some improv in there as well. Auri, have you ever done improv outside what you are doing there?
Auri Hughes: I love comedy, but I've never done improv.
David Gardner: You might want to consider it because you obviously, clearly have some skills there, but that's wonderful. Did you get your letter at the sports awards ceremony at the end of your high school year [laughs] with all the other people getting their baseball or football letters?
Auri Hughes: That's a great question. It wasn't with the sports awards [laughs] but we had our own special segment for the marketing students, where I got it. Yeah, I just didn't have the jacket, but I still have the letter to this day.
David Gardner: I assume this was true. Your feelings going through high school certainly was true of mine. I think a lot of us share those. Sports is so lauded, so idolized in some ways, not just by kids playing them or the athletes that they idolize looking up to but really by the adults running the schools, those sports award ceremonies are really big deals. By contrast, things like what you were amazing at, the Marketing awards ceremony. Not as cool, not many people are really thinking that we would get letters in that but when you really think about life backwards, you start asking what are the things that are going to endure? I love thinking back on school-boy moments in sports where a magical thing happened but, that's not that relevant to so much of the rest of your life. Whereas thinking fast on your toes, problem-solving in front of a judge toward business, which is what so many of us are either investing in or spending our lives as professionals, that feels very real to me, so while I didn't make the hiring decisions because I don't make any hiring decisions at the Motley Fool, I can see some of what we're seeing in you and I'm glad it's worked out so well for all of us. All right. Well, I want to get the stock graph of your life, but do you want to point to anything else in conclusion, looking at your ten sentences.
Auri Hughes: I think the final one is closest to where we are today hired at the Motley Fool and I think this is a major milestone because it's where my passion merged with how I'd make income, and that was a very proud moment and I felt like I reached a breakthrough for becoming an investment analyst. It's very happy and I'm looking to continue to grow and develop as an analyst and not mature but just grow as an investor.
David Gardner: Wonderful. Well, you certainly have been doing that the process will continue and I guess it's a process that for all of us needs to continue our whole lives long. ABG, Always Be Growing and Auri you're obviously a clear demonstrator of that. I do think intellectual curiosity, which is a phrase you used earlier, I think that's such an important trait, especially for us in investing and analysts and looking at companies and Bill Mann earlier used the phrase treasure hunt, which is what he feels like he's on when he's researching stocks or thinking about what to buy next but it is that flame of interest of asking why did things work that way or what can I learn about this that clearly runs through you Auri and through a lot of our analysts. Well, let's go to the stock graph of your life. You took the time to trace it out. You said it to me earlier, so I'm looking at the visual. We can only talk our listeners through it. Now looking at the graph here, I'm seeing IPO or birth [laughs] brighter at 1990 Auri, so we're placing you in your early thirties today. I read off two middle names earlier. Asante was the first one. What does Asante mean again?
Auri Hughes: It's just like African tribe from history and that's the meaning of that name.
David Gardner: Awesome. Is it a problem to carry around four names, filling out forms these days or do you abbreviate?
Auri Hughes: [laughs] Usually there's just like one letter, so I will just put A.
David Gardner: Okay [laughs].
Auri Hughes: But [laughs] if am able to write it out fully, I'll write it out fully.
David Gardner: Nice. Okay, good. Talk us forward here from 1990, what do you want to alight upon as we move along your graph?
Auri Hughes: Yeah, so it's interesting. I probably went into too much detail for this, but I think in the beginning part of my life I had maybe an average market return so about 10 percent so you don't see like a lot of out performance, just standard upbringing. Then I feel one of the big milestones is I think my mother taking the initiative to move to Northern Virginia because I think she was researching the education system and how I think it's one or two within the country and she thought it was a great public school education system and it put me around noble peers that were very competitive and I think that encouraged me as well.
David Gardner: That was very intentional on her part. She was like, "I want my kids to get great education, where are the best places?" Certainly Northern Virginia is one of them in the nation. I see from the graph, our listeners can't, that it looks like right around the age of 12 you moved. Where where did you move from? Where did you grow up?
Auri Hughes: Yes. Wow, your math is completely accurate based [laughs] on the years.
David Gardner: I am up fast doing numbers as long as you're doing addition, subtraction, multiplication [laughs] Once we start hitting calculus I'm not so awesome, but thank you.
Auri Hughes: Yeah, I gave it a lot of detail. I was in Texas four years before that and then before that, I was in Maryland between the ages of 1-6 or seven.
David Gardner: Okay. What's your favorite memory for Maryland, your favorite memory from Texas?
Auri Hughes: My favorite memory from Maryland probably being in the first grade, playing tag in first grade and I think that just being the ultimate bliss at that age [laughs].
David Gardner: Yeah, functions age.
Auri Hughes: Yeah. A favorite memory from Texas is probably; I think that was the age I started sleeping over a friend's house and spending time and developing friendships during youth and just playing games, riding bikes, those types of things.
David Gardner: Well, I'm glad you ended up in Northern Virginia Auri because I think in some ways it explained why you're at The Motley Fool today since we are based in Northern Virginia, although we certainly have employees now working in a hybrid new world that we live in, working from all over the place. What do you want to talk about next?
Auri Hughes: Yeah. I think a major inflection point on the chart too is I think when I opened a brokerage account while I was in college and just got started. I think that gave me a major advantage at a young age or fostered the learning. At the same time while I was taking business courses but I think your brother said one of the biggest things in your development as a stock analysts is just having the P&L and getting started in investing. I think starting the account, and funding it and just looking at stocks, reading, I remember the TD Ameritrade account came with equity research reports so I would just read those, read about a company. I would also use the reports to do projects if we had to do a case study on a company which I think gave me an advantage. It started getting the ball rolling about thinking about companies investing and then more importantly, the emotional aspect of owning stocks and getting comfortable with volatility at a pretty early age. I really loved that experience even though I wasn't going to be a remarkable investor at 21, I think it gave me an advantage and got the ball rolling to make better decisions later. I think ETFs started to emerge so I started learning about ETFs as well. It was just a really interesting time period and I'm very happy I did that in hindsight.
David Gardner: Was there a moment? Do you remember what triggered your decision that day? Had you've been putting it off for a few years? Was there a conversation that led to it? Why did you open a brokerage account that day versus three years later or two years before?
Auri Hughes: Man, that's a great question. I think the desire that this is very accessible. I can do this and it's very easy to open, even if I've not funding it with hundreds of thousands of dollars, I can get the feel of buying a company and learning about the company and moving forward. I think something just one-off that. I enjoy the idea of investing and I could start building momentum at something I wanted to be good at and it was very accessible to do, even if it wasn't a huge sums of cash to invest at the moment.
David Gardner: Isn't that wonderful? I'm wondering, did you have friends? Were they doing the same thing? Sometimes people who are interested in business or marketing in high school or even earlier. I'm not going to say it's a lonely existence, but again, it's not necessarily what all the cool kids are doing, thinking and talking about, but obviously you're young man at this point, you're in college. Were you part of an investment club, anything like that?
Auri Hughes: I wasn't part of an investment club but what ended up happening was, in a lot of these courses, you do formulas and you learn a lot of theory. That was nice but I said, I want to experience this in real life to some degree.
David Gardner: I love it.
Auri Hughes: It's a lot of textbook learning, a lot of stuff we don't frankly use now in practice but I just wanted to experience it. Then I think it really helped to do that and learn about the companies and I just kept with it going forward.
David Gardner: Well, as you quoting my brother earlier, basically, no substitute for skin in the game, P&L, real numbers, real picks.
Auri Hughes: I actually have a funny story I'd like to share. I didn't go through with this decision in hindsight, but I was going to take [laughs] out more student loans and invest it in Amazon.
David Gardner: Wow.
Auri Hughes: And I didn't do it [laughs].
David Gardner: This is around 2010, so we were coming out of a great financial recession.
Auri Hughes: Yeah, this is around 2011. Humility prevented me from doing it.
David Gardner: The Motley Fool generally does not advise taking out [laughs] loans to add to our investing. Now, single-digit loans maybe, and I don't know what restrictions are around student loans, whether you're allowed to take the money and put in the market. Are you feeling some regret now 12 years later?
Auri Hughes: I mean, in hindsight, that would've been an amazing decision at 21, but I think I don't regret it but it was. I was still very observant about the world like in the Peter Lynch fashion.
David Gardner: Yeah, that's the take away.
Auri Hughes: Yeah. Where you just see things emerging and trends that are going to obviously be a lot bigger and I had those original thoughts about Amazon and I did buy some Amazon. I think humility, just was like, no, let's not do this. You're not as experienced as you think. It would've been a great decision but I think just as much as that would have panned out, that could have not went well also.
David Gardner: It's true. Now I'm looking at the graph. Of course our listeners can't, but you've got a bump up here Auri with your first job out of college, what was that?
Auri Hughes: I'd always been worried about finding gainful employment, being employed, being able to take care of myself. So I think that was just confirmation that yeah, you're working now. You're not going to die broke, you have a career, you have something that you're being thoughtful about. And I think my experience is when I was at RadioShack and I was, "Man, I'm completely disposable." I think it was a milestone for me that I was learning financial analysis. I spent a lot of time in Excel, I was at a small government contractor doing some planning and forecasting for them. It was just a moment of pride that first part of the journey where you finish school and now you're working in your own and the real life begins.
David Gardner: What was your mom saying at the time? She must have been pretty proud.
Auri Hughes: Yes, I think so. I think she definitely saw I was disciplined and I was very focused and I think there's a certain sense of pride when you're first-generation college graduate. I think that sense of pride for the graduate, maybe the parent as well.
David Gardner: Yeah, that's great. Now, from that point forward and again, your first job out of college, yours is 2011. We're talking about I'm not going to ask you to summarize all 11 years too quickly, but also not in long-form because we need to get to your three key moments making you the investor you are today, but what do you want to speak about? Obviously, I'm delighted to see that you were hired at the Motley Fool, as I see now, 2019 so you're in your third year here. I'm happy to say, your stock from college, it's gone from $50 a share to right around $215 today. Your are a four bagger since college. Thank you for putting some numbers to it. You're obviously having fun with that as well. Who would you like to speak to through the last 10 years?
Auri Hughes: Yes. I think an expression of this graph is very common among the experience after graduating from college and joining the workforce and I think a lot of that period was growth in finding out who I was, the things I enjoyed, where I find the most fulfillment, which I think had identified earlier, but I didn't have a chance to express that through my work. I did some coding and some data analysis, which was great. But I think my true passion was investing, so gainfully employed, but I think having the opportunity to work at the Motley Fool. You see like the graph hockey sticks. Because like finally, it put me in a great culture, matching what I'm doing with great mentors, learning, becoming a better investor. I think my worth at that point dramatically increased. I think that was a huge catalysts and it's a reminder to me that much like life, entrepreneurship, stock returns are not linear even though we think very linear as humans. Life is like a journey and you could still get exponential growth, but it doesn't go up in a straight line, I think that is a very common experience, especially with my employment and then being hired at the Motley Fool. I actually have numbers tied to that. That period I was like a three percent return and then it shoots up after the hiring of Motley Fool.
David Gardner: I got fortune to and I really appreciate your point about things not being linear. Looking backwards, we tend to over simplify our past, we tend to just think, all good, or, hey, here's where I am, but we forget often all of the trials and tribulations we went through to get there and I'm even thinking back to Sea Limited. Again, a widely held stock lot of full fans are Rule Breakers has really gotten nailed the last few months. But three years ago it was at 25. Therefore, three-years later, it's a five-bagger, which is an incredible return. Five times your money in any three-year period but it's also been more than cut in half in just four to six months. That's life for a lot of us in different ways, I think we owe it to ourselves not to forget how we got to where we are and it's not linear, as you said.
Auri Hughes: Exactly.
David Gardner: Well, let's close it out with the three key moments making you the investor you are today and it's always fun to assets of anybody I mentioned earlier, we're all at different ages or are you in your early 30s, maybe 10 years from now you'll have two new ones. Maybe 10 years from now, I'll have to new ones wherever my three would be. It's a changing group, but here we are in March of 2022, you are 31 years of age, so let's put a pin in it right there. I'm talking to you as a 31-year old. Looking back, what is the first key moment that made you the investor you are today?
Auri Hughes: First key moment, open the brokerage account and invest in something start to P&L, you learn the emotions of investor. You feel that it's like the bias stock even though that's the simple part. But researching, trying to understand what you own, forming an opinion. You have exposure to something. I think those are very important. There's so much that is encompassed in that experience of being an investor. I think the moment you open the account and put something in it, it gets the ball rolling in a way that is hard to describe from just saying, learning.
David Gardner: From potential energy, going back to physics to kinetic energy, all of a sudden you're doing and I love that one. What's Number 2?
Auri Hughes: Number 2, I think. One of the books I read it was reading the Warren Buffett way. But then my major takeaways from that was, I think, was introductory learning that the market is an auction place. Business is the future sum all the cash and those general principles we love in that regard and just understanding that things move up and down, but it is not reflective of the value of the business where those introductory lessons. I think in understanding how the market works and not being tied to day-to-day price movements.
David Gardner: Much of it is what we think is going to happen in the future. We'd be silly, small fools, if we weren't weighing constantly, where we think things are headed. But then we have to trade, buy and sell. In the very near-term and so you're right and we've seen in the whole market get repriced, especially a lot of our Rule Breakers stocks get repriced here in just the last six months downward. The couple of years before that they were repriced way upward and as we've been talking about, take it all-in-all three-years ago, we're much better off today than we were at three-years ago, but doesn't feel so great when so many of our great winners have been cut in half, let's say since last fall. Is that the only Warren Buffett book you've read or, actually confession never read the Warren Buffett way or any Warren Buffett books. You're already one up on me. But more broadly, what kinds of investment books do you enjoy reading?
Auri Hughes: I think my favorite one as of now, 100 Baggers, which is written by a gentleman named Chris Mayer. You learn about stocks that have returned 100-to-1 in the market, and the principles of those in the commonalities, and then honestly being able to hold them. Obviously, there's certain principles, but having the stomach to actually [laughs] hold a stock that doesn't go anywhere for few years or that goes down. Just the case study of those stocks and their commonalities, which is a fun one.
David Gardner: Wonderful. Thank you for sharing that. Close us out; what is the most recent key moment making you the investor you are today?
Auri Hughes: I'm glad I started with the first two, because the third one I think is very important. I'm going to meld these together, but it encompasses, I think, a lot of the principles of Rule Breakers. But I had read the Peter Lynch books, Philip Fisher books, and then I've also spent some time on Rule Breakers. I think one of the themes from all these three points is the power of growth. Basically, stock prices go up because businesses grow and businesses get bigger, and revenue growth is a big indication of that. A big part of my process from working at the Motley Fool, being a student under you and Tom, is looking at revenue growth, seeing how that's trending and then starting backwards and then going back from there. That's my third, but one of the most powerful lessons, I think even more so than the understanding we get from the Warren Buffett lessons, but those lessons we takeaway from Rule Breakers and Peter Lynch and Philip Fisher, and the possibility in understanding how businesses grow larger over time and how that can happen.
David Gardner: Wonderful. Auri, what are a couple of companies that are on your radar today? Companies that you admire, you may or may not have recommended them through our services. I'm not asking you to share what your next pick would be or what you're working on now. But what are a couple of companies that are illustrative of your style of investing, and that you do like, let's say over the next five-plus years?
Auri Hughes: It's so tough because I haven't committed to one style, and I appreciate so many things about different companies. So maybe I'll give two examples.
David Gardner: Great.
Auri Hughes: The first example is Constellation Software. It's a software business that is a serial acquirer of small niche businesses. Most businesses that engage in acquisitions can't consistently do it, but this business, it's hit out of the park and it's grown for a long time and it's a tremendous winner, and it's run by this founder-led Canadian guy, Mark Leonard. He's just created this niche, acquiring these companies, and it's been a massive winner. He writes a shareholder letter, and it's a great simple business, but it doesn't have dramatic movements, but it's been a major winner over a long period of time. Another business that, let's maybe move away from that, is probably going to be more volatile, one that I'm really interested in, that your brother likes, is DigitalOcean. DigitalOcean, they've created a solution for small businesses that want to create on Cloud platforms, but they're filling the gap that AWS and Azure-
David Gardner: Amazon Web Services, right?
Auri Hughes: Yeah, are not in. So they're going after the small marketplace businesses and pricing competitively for them. It's growing really fast, and it's starting from a small base. It's a really interesting business. The founders, they're not involved anymore, but they still own a significant share of the business. It's one I'm really interested in, which is probably going to be more on the high-growth, more volatile side. It's funny, I'm just a student of business, so I still find all these companies fascinating, whether it'd be a small, consistent compounder, or super volatile, high-growth company, they're all interesting to me.
David Gardner: That's why we use the word motley a lot, both in our corporate name and around our offices, because in the end, Auri, you and I, nobody has to be part of one view of things. You don't have to be part of a certain school or not. One of things I love about the Motley Fool is we have many different types of investors, with lots of different viewpoints. Partly, we feature services where you can follow whatever color your parachute is that you've decided over the course of your life. You can even change the colors of your parachute as you go through life; and I think that's usually a really good process. I do want to just highlight, since you mentioned Constellation Software, it's csu.to. It is a Canadian company, so it's on the Canadian exchanges. DigitalOcean, DOCN, which I know is a popular stock among many Fool followers. Auri, you've been very generous with your time and your insights, sharing yourself and your process. I know that you are a growth oriented person. There are the growth mindsets and the fixed mindsets. You may have seen some work on that out there. You were definitely one of those with a growth mindset. I think that's in part what thrives at the Motley Fool. Auri, continued best wishes for your work. Thanks so much for telling your story this week on Rule Breaker Investing.
Auri Hughes: Thank you for having me, David.
David Gardner: Thank you again this week to my friends and guests, Bill Mann and Auri Hughes. I think I want to reiterate one thing at close; and that is, if you are an investor, and the truth is we are all investors, whether we know ourselves by that name or not, we're all investing our time and our money in things throughout the day, every week, every day. So I should say that if you switched onto that, and you recognize that you are an investor, maybe you talk stocks with your grandparents and rocking chairs in the North Carolina Foothills, or maybe you were that young man who, as a student, actually took the initiative to open up your own brokerage account, recognizing the power of compounding, you'll realize that your story will inevitably be shaped by the investing that you do, that stock stories and our stories become intertwined, weave their way through our lives. Here's one more key insight, if it isn't also true that the more investing you do and the more care you take with it, and the better you do, that story of your creation has a better and better chance of being a story with more and more possibilities all the places you'll go, and one, I hope, with a very happy ending. When you're gone: who remembers your name? Who keeps your flame? Who tells your story?