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Investors Tell Their Stories

In this episode of Rule Breaker Investing, Aaron Bush and Tim Beyers -- leaders on the Motley Fool Rule Breakers team -- have taken very different paths to become Motley Fool analysts. Today we hear their stories in their own words. Up and to the right, here we go!

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.

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This video was recorded on June 2, 2021.

David Gardner: "Who lives, who dies? Who tells your story?" Runs that pointed lyric from the American hit musical, Hamilton. Who tells your story? Well, storytelling has been at the heart of this podcast for six years and counting. But it hadn't occurred to me until earlier this year to start a new series that features 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? Aaron Bush, Tim Beyers, where'd you come from? If you had to tell your story in just exactly 150 words, about 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, Episode 3 kicks off this week only on Rule Breaker Investing.

Welcome back to Rule Breaker Investing. We have a very full month for you, June 2021 featuring five Wednesdays. That happens a couple of times a year. This is one of those months with five Wednesdays, therefore five podcasts. Not going to preview all of them, but I will let you know my last five stock sampler. That's the way I'm thinking about it. We'll pop up in two weeks, my 30th five stock sampler, I'm looking forward to doing that. Certainly later in the month, the market cap game show with, in fact, I hope to get Aaron Bush and Emily Flippen together for that one. That will be a lot of fun as well, mailbags, etc. So many pleasures, including this week's, I'm really delighted to continue the series. Meeting with some of my and your favorite fools across our company, people who are focused on the stock market as advisors, analysts, long time Fools. This week we have Aaron Bush and Tim Beyers, which seems particularly apt because Aaron and Tim are succeeding the stock-picking that I have been doing for Motley Fool Rule Breakers since October of 2004. Both of my guests this week have been doing that work alongside me for various periods over years and years and now they're taking senior leadership over. So I thought it was a great time to have Aaron and then Tim tell his and his respective story. We didn't draw lots because we're each in different states. But I've just arbitrarily decided let's go alphabetically this week. So let's bring on my friend, Aaron Bush. Aaron, welcome my friend.

Aaron Bush: Thanks for having me on, David.

Gardner: Where are you calling in from/dialing from/zooming in from these days?

Bush: I'm calling in from Texas, the Dallas area. I moved back here recently, back in January. So a bit of a life plot twist, but excited to be here.

Gardner: Yes, and as we'll shortly be hearing in your present Omega is some of your Alpha, I suspect. Aaron, any reflections returning back to Texas, is it different in 2021 than when you left it some years ago?

Bush: I think what's really hit home for me is just how massive the Dallas Metroplex is. I grew up in the Metroplex, but I'm living in a different place, which is close enough to where I can still get to family, but far enough away to where it feels like I'm in a completely different city, living a completely different life. When I drive around, it just sprawls forever, it feels like.

Gardner: I believe you. I've been to Dallas a few times. I think the very first time was for a book signing that my brother Tom and I did for The Motley Fool Investment Guide. That was the first time I had ever been to Dallas, back in the 1990s. At the time we landed in the Dallas Fort Worth Airport and they were saying, "Welcome to the Metroplex". I was like, people use that word. You just did. I don't often hear people rocking it, Aaron.

Bush: It is a Metroplex. That definitely is the way to put it.

Gardner: All right. Well, Aaron, I know you've diligently prepared for telling your story. Thank you very much. There doesn't need to be that much diligence other than the first of our three sections is the story of you in exactly 150 words, and presumably you're not winging this off the top of your head. So let me just say, Aaron Andrew Bush, tell your story.

Bush: All right. I was born and raised in Texas, surrounded by a caring family and had a fairly typical early upbringing. At the age of 10, due to some hardships, a chip was put on my shoulder, which was propelled by extremely competitive future focus and often contrarian mentality. Perpetually bored at school, I put most of my competitive effort into Taekwondo, investing, and hustling for income. This continued through college when I decided to drop in to The Motley Fool full-time, which I've now happily worked for or been a member of for over half my life. Somewhere along the way, I grew a passion for games, donuts, and writing online. Today, I physically live in Texas again, but mentally feel like the internet is my home. I've also happily engaged more of a Rule Breaker than ever, feel grateful, and excited for whatever challenges come next. This is still the beginning.

Gardner: Wow. Love that, Aaron. Thank you very much. I knew a few of those things, as I would hope so, because while you and I have worked together for some years, maybe around half your life, as you mentioned.

Bush: That's correct.

Gardner: I'm always going to hear things that I didn't know. For example, congratulations on your, I assume recent engagement, because I don't think I knew that.

Bush: Yeah. Thank you. It's more of my fiance that's getting used to Texas more so than I am now.

Gardner: Wonderful. Did you both meet in the Northern Virginia, Washington D.C. area?

Bush: We did. Actually, when I moved to the D.C. area in 2014, I only knew one person who had previously gone to school with who was then a student at George Washington University and my fiance now was a mutual friend of that person. So yeah, I met her and it's funny how those things happen, but here we are.

Gardner: Love that, and what were her feelings as she crossed the border into the state of Texas, her future residence.

Bush: A little bit of uncertainty. I think we're happy to have no state income tax. So there's a plus. Yeah, definitely she's worried about the summer heat which is on its way shortly.

Gardner: So Aaron, I first got to really know you better. I remember doing a call, was this Zoom? Before Zoom was cool, we did a FaceTime or something from your dorm room as I recall.

Bush: Yeah, that's right.

Gardner: It was your freshman year at the University of Texas at Austin. You mentioned in your 150 words being bored at school, and I don't think that just included your brief time in college. I think that included some portions of growing up. Were you always "bored" at school?

Bush: The way I like to put it is that I got Senior writers in third grade. For better reverse, I just wasn't very interested in sitting there all day. I especially was not interested in doing homework, which often felt repetitive and I felt like I could be doing something else with my time. Not that I hated every element of school. I always enjoyed it, especially the people in it, but yeah, school was not necessarily the place for me.

Gardner: Aaron, is that because you're marching to the beat of a different drummer than many of the rest of us? Or in your mind, does that say something that needs reform in the school system?

Bush: It's probably a mix of things. Part of it is definitely innate to who I am. Once I feel passionate about something of my own, wanting to go deep down that path versus having to follow a strict regimen that is presented to me. But also I do think there probably is room for reform and how the education system can work. I'm absolutely not an expert at that and I don't have the best ideas for how that could happen. But I think there definitely is a time when it seems like the trend is more toward making school the same experience for everyone. My take is maybe it should be the opposite. If I could snap my fingers, make school something that is more personalized to the individual so that they can get the most out of it for themselves.

Gardner: I love that. I really do. I think it's hard to deliver, probably especially at scale, and yet technology has done things at scale that were almost impossible to do before, say the Internet existed. So it gives me hope and thought that you are on the right path there. I'm curious, Aaron, as somebody who was going through the system, I know you as a very bright guy, I think you've got a lot of fans among Rule Breakers and a lot of people inside and outside The Motley Fool appreciate your viewpoint. Did you get good grades, were you killing it there not having to study at all? Or were you bombing your grades? Or what were grades like for you?

Bush: I'm fortunate that I was able to get pretty good grades without trying too hard. I probably upset a lot of teachers along the way by playing games. For example, I remember my senior year of high school, I made a bet with some friends for my English class. The entire class was discussion based and I made a bet that I could pull an A for the semester without opening my mouth once at class, and I pulled it off. I got exactly a 90, but I did the math beforehand to understand how grades were calculated and I knew how this teacher works. I played the game. I was a student of the game. I wouldn't say I was a great student, but I was good at playing the game.

Gardner: That is awesome. Sounds like you could lose no more than 10 points for class participation.

Bush: Which was crazy. There was like a sliding scale at the beginning, the teacher was very forgiving and at the end was not very forgiving. It rounded out so you could lose 10 points altogether.

Gardner: Hilarious, since you've described it as discussion-based.

Gardner: [laughs] Well, that would be playing a game outside the game, many games. Aaron, what games do you enjoy today? You mentioned games in your 150 words. That's a word that matters a lot to me too. What are some of your favorite games or why do you play games?

Bush: I game because my brain gets bored. I feel like a lot of people will spend time watching TV or movies or things like that. I personally have a hard time. I enjoy TV shows, but I have a hard time paying attention. Games are more hands-on. It gets my brain involved. Honestly, it's just more fun for me and more immersive. I like all types of games. I wish I played more board games. I know you and Rick both were board game fans, so I just don't have enough people to play with. Maybe I'll figure out some way to play more online with people. But I play a lot of video games. I play a bunch of different types of video games. I'm pretty interested in just trying a bunch of different things out and seeing what's going on, what different companies are coming up with different styles. It's a side hobby for me.

Gardner: Do you play any Grand Theft Auto V these days?

Bush: Not these days, but I guess a funny story when I was very early in my analyst days, this must have been 2014 and this was when I met, who is now my fiance, Angie. I was really interested in Take-Two, the stock, and I had just gotten a PlayStation. So she probably heard me talk more about Take-Two than she wanted to. For my birthday, she got me a Grand Theft Auto V, and two shares of Take-Two. That was one of the best birthdays ever. I knew she was a keeper after that.

Gardner: That's great. Well, Aaron, you and I share a lot of things and one of them is my tendency to disengage in relative terms from watching shows and be much more engaged when I'm playing the game. A quick example for me might be The Witcher. Some people will recognize The Witcher either as a Netflix show that's gotten fair to midland reviews with Henry Cavill playing the witcher or of course, the incredible video game franchise from a CD project based on some Eastern European novels. I never fall asleep, dozens of hours into The Witcher 3. I might have fallen asleep during one or two of the Witcher episodes. So that conveys that you and I have a similar vibe where we want to feel engaged.

Bush: Absolutely. I need to be hands-on and brain active, otherwise, I'd just move on to the next thing.

Gardner: All right, Aaron, let's move over to the stock graph of your life now. You mentioned a moment earlier in your life where you ended up with a little bit of a chip on your shoulder. I don't know what that is. We don't need to go strong to the hoop on that, but I'm thinking maybe it shows up in your stock graph. Let's talk through the stock graph of your life now. Aaron Bush, your life isn't actually a stock graph, but for these purposes, we'll pretend that it is. Maybe it has some highs, maybe some lows. Could you trace it out? Let's spend a few minutes just talking through the shape of the curve. Any high or lows that you would like to speak to. Where do we start? Lower-left?

Bush: Let's do it. Somehow, David, I feel funny doing this because in a lot of senses I feel like I'm just getting started. It's probably not much of a stock graph yet. I think that if my life were being plotted like a company, I view it more as a start-up that's been hustling for a while and has maybe hit a couple of milestones, but is yet to really IPL or hit the main stage. It just looks like a little staircase chart for now, but it doesn't go super far yet.

Gardner: Understood. Let me just jump in there, Aaron, and point it out because I think a lot of people might be wondering, how old exactly is Aaron Bush? I'm going to make up the numbers and you can tell us for sure, assuming you're comfortable sharing your age, Aaron. But I'm thinking that you and I were talking somewhere in 2013, maybe freshman year of college, you chose then to not drop out nor to drop into the Motley Fool, which I thought was a brilliant choice. It's not right for many people but for you somebody who is ambitious and occasionally, as you said, bored with school, it seems like it was a heck of a decision. So I'm thinking some seven years later or so, Aaron, 26?

Bush: You nailed it.

Gardner: Good. So, again, I knew that, but I wanted to make sure everybody listening knew what you meant when you said you are still early on in your stock graph and that makes a lot of sense to me. What are the first undulations in this curve that you'd like to share?

Bush: Yeah. I'd consider my chart pretty dormant until I hit the age of 10 or 11. That's what, let's call it my sea-drawn hits. To frame it out, due to some unemployment and financial struggles in my family, I got a chip put on my shoulder as I mentioned. It is, as I mentioned before, when I started getting super-competitive, super future-focused about various things. Someone said maybe too young, but in some sense, I almost think maybe too late. In a couple of senses, money was very top-of-mind, and I decided that with similar hardships, I would do everything I can to never have it happen to me and that I was going to try to take things up a level. Saying this in my 10, 11-year-old head. Then I also just started really getting competitive in Taekwondo, which is another source of random avenue of my life that was a big part of my life for a while and it was a really good outlet for some of my intensity and even frustrations of being locked in school at the time. But I think about that 10, 11 age range is when I started more forming into who I ultimately became.

Gardner: Aaron, I'm curious, first of all, I hope you have the blessing one day of being a father. If you do, I'm curious whether you would put your daughter or a son into Taekwondo? It sounds like you are a fan.

Bush: I think it was awesome for me. It definitely improves my mental toughness a lot and my physical [laughs] toughness a lot. I do think there are just characteristics like respect, discipline, certain things that come out of combat sports in general. It's definitely not for everyone. Not everyone wants to get kicked in the face. But for me it was a really fun time and I think it was just as much like a strategy game to me, where you can think about how to win. I was playing a time when the sport was turning electronic, where you had sensors and you're like fit in gloves, I would hit on different pads. It was a time where almost a Rule Breaker mentality could come to the sport and figure out ways to win that were different from the past. The meta of the game was shifting at a time when I was wrapping up. I really leaned into that and had fun and saw some success there.

Gardner: Wonderful. Now somewhere around that time in your life, your mother, who is a Motley Fool member, was cruising through the Washington D.C. area at some point because I remember having a lovely coffee with her, which we do with members. When people have coffee together, which I trust will happen one day again. Just a delightful opportunity to meet somebody who is passionate about the markets and mentioned her son, Aaron. A few years later, all of a sudden you were an intern at Fool headquarters. But before we move into that, if you even want to go there, Aaron, I just want to make sure we're talking to you. A Texas family, your last name is Bush. Are you directly related to W?

Bush: I think maybe very distantly, but not close enough for it to make any difference in my life.

Gardner: Let's proceed forward. What do we encounter next on Aaron Bush's stock graph of his life?

Bush: Awesome. I would say that my series A happened in high school. It's when I internalized that I'm a horrible dabbler and that anything I do, I honestly can't help but dive really deep and go big and therefore need to focus. It's at this time when I became even more obsessed with business and investing. It's when I started to work for The Motley Fool in some capacity, largely thanks to you, David, and I also competed at a high level in my sport, Taekwondo, and then started even training some younger kids who went on to do some pretty amazing things too. So I view that as my series A when things went up to yet another level, still some of the same things, but took it to another extreme.

Gardner: You mentioned that competitiveness and I can think of you in many different contexts there, Aaron, even though I only know a small part of your life. I think your view on Motley Fool CAPS, where in a sense we all compete by picking stocks against each other, if you will, on this free platform, is around 15 or 16 years old at this point, which is about two-thirds of your life. You've been there for quite a long time. Because on that platform you are scored against everybody else, just like for our SATs here in the U.S. you might be 70, 30 percentile, or whatever. Aaron, you are the 99.9 percentile of performance on Motley Fool CAPS. You've always been highly ranked, which gave me a lot of confidence that we might indeed want to have you at The Motley Fool, both as an intern and then eventually as an employee. That competitiveness. I will say all three Gardner kids went through Taekwondo, and I enjoy as a dad watching my petite daughter at a young age, break our board, which has to be one of those first formative moments for any Taekwondo practitioner. But, Aaron, you mentioned higher levels of competition. Did you have a great moment?

Gardner: Did you reach a pinnacle?

Bush: To some degree. I got my second-degree black belt and became national champion at Spark for my division.

Gardner: I had no idea of that.

Bush: But I would say like even more so though later in high school, I stopped competing at that higher level because it was pretty life-consuming, and I spent more time training younger kids. Some of those kids have gone on to do even crazier things. Someone I trained with, what was the last Olympics? In Rio. Some others have won the Junior Olympics. In some way, I'm even more proud of them than I am of myself.

Gardner: That is remarkable. What I particularly find remarkable about Aaron is I didn't know those things about you. So it's not like you walk around bragging, or wearing that on your sleeve or anything that is so impressive. To have moved from a great player to a coach says a lot about you too.

Bush: I appreciate that. It feels like a lifetime ago now. I miss competing in sports, I don't know if I could handle that again, the same way now, but I'm really happy that that was part of my life when it was.

Gardner: All right. We've gone through some seed funding. We've got in the series A, injection of capital. Where are we heading next?

Bush: I think my next big step, maybe we can call it my series B, is when I then left college to go work full-time at The Motley Fool, which you alluded to, and that was, as you mentioned, when I was 19 years old. It came with a couple of trade-offs, some good, some less good, I just have to figure out life, and I've just been hustling since trying to craft my investment. The game improves who I am as an investor all the way up till now. I think along that journey, I've had the pleasure of working in a bunch of our different services at this point. Started with Supernova, all the way through, Rule Breakers, and then Crypto Society, Global Partners, Extreme Opportunities, and now all the way back to Rule Breakers. Ever since I made that leap to get to The Motley Fool, I've really enjoyed my time and it's been a great experience of watching the company grow and being a part of the team.

Gardner: Well, and it's been great doing that with you, Aaron, and also that's my experience too. I'm so pleasantly surprised by all that we've been able to do as a company and all that I've learned as an investor and as a fellow Fool as well. I know a lot of people listening to us have observed this in some cases even longer than you have because we have listeners who were with us back there in the AOL days, pre-web, and many others in between. Aaron, thank you for sharing that part. We're going to move very shortly onto the three key moments to becoming the investor that you are. That's going to be a big focus I know, of course. But I'm curious about that decision which has always impressed me. It feels courageous. To decide to step away from college after the first year and come to work for us. Again, it really impressed me. Did you find your family supportive? What were your friends saying to you at the time? Did you feel like you were breaking the rules?

Bush: Yeah, I did feel like I was breaking the rules. I'm unfortunate that everyone was supportive, but also everyone was concerned. I think they saw it as more of a risk than it actually was. Because in my mind, everyone framed it as dropping out and I've tried to tweak the language since then to drop in. It's less that I dropped out of school and more that I dropped into another situation where I'm taking a bet on myself, but I'm also taking a bet on the people around me that we can do something great together. Worst-case scenario, I just go back to where I was. The downside is actually not much of a downside at all, but the upside is potentially substantial. To me, it felt asymmetric, when to others it felt maybe like the wrong thing to do just because it's not what people do.

Gardner: That's true, although I suspect it happens more these days than it did 20 years ago or 50 years ago and it might be completely different 20 years from now.

Bush: I hope so. I don't think what I did shocked the world. I think it just surprised some people. I do hope that as time moves forward that companies move on from having very much like a credentialist mindset to much more of betting more holistically on a person and what they stand for and what you think they're capable of doing. I'm really glad that that is the way that The Motley Fool operates, and I hope other companies follow suit as well.

Gardner: Thank you for that, Aaron. Let's move now to the three key moments to becoming the investor that you are. I certainly know you as a disruptive in a good way, thinker, a fellow breaker of rules, I believe. Whatever that chip was on your shoulder that made you competitive and had you looking at things from a different angle and you lived a life that's emblematic of that. I'm really curious to hear what these three key moments are. The most important building blocks, let's call them to the Investor that you are today, Aaron, what is No. 1?

Bush: Some of this will be a little bit repetitive, but I'll add a bit more context to it. I do think the first step is more the chip-on-the-shoulder era. But to break it down a little bit more, I think there are three quick things I can mention that framed me up then. One, my grandfather gave me his old financial calculator that was sitting in an attic somewhere. I figured out how to do compound interest equations with it. I ended up making tons of spreadsheets. It was like all the combinations of like, if you put this much money at this rate over this amount of time, this is what ends up. I still probably have that notebook somewhere, several pages of all the combinations, we'll be looking at that. That's part of what made me really excited to lean into investing. Then when I was excited to lean into investing, I read a couple of books, and I was fortunate that my mom was learning some of this at the same time. She got me The Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens at the time, which shaped me. I hope it shapes some other people as much as it shaped me, but the work on that book definitely improved my life and gave me some good context on how to think about investing. Then my grandfather set up a portfolio competition for the family at that time as me and my mom were getting interested in investing. It was all model portfolios, but I read through. I think he had a few issues of the Value Line. I probably read through like five issues straight everywhere to try to figure out what 10 stocks I was going to pick. All that mattered was I ended up picking Apple and Starbucks, so I won the competition. That shaped me.

Gardner: Isn't that spectacular? Here again, I can relate to a lot of the story. Tom and I were raised on Value Line, which back then, pre-web, certainly was a great repository. It was like a print database of all the numbers that you would have otherwise had to send off and get financial reports of companies, and there would be no way to really organize that into a helpful whole. Value Line, certainly for us was formative and that gaming aspect and a grandfather sharing his interest and you picking a portfolio against your mom or your family, that's wonderful. A reminder I think to a lot of us listening right now, the importance of setting up just a few constructs, especially if they're fun for kids and what a change that can make. Before we move onto the second key moment making you the investor that you are definitely got to give a shout out to Selena Maranjian, who wrote the book of The Motley Fool Investing Guide for Teens. Tom and I have our names on the cover along with Selena. She did so much of the work for that book, and I am delighted to think of the stories that she pulled off from our discussion boards. Aaron, you might have, for all I know, had told one of those stories that wound up in the book, although maybe you were a little young for that. That was the whole spirit of her book was telling stories by teens, for teens based on that, admittedly, that minority of teens who actually care about the stock market or would pick up grandsires financial calculators. Shout out to Selena. Aaron, what's No. 2 for you?

Bush: No. 2 is when you asked me to join your Stock Advisor, Best Buys Now team, I was probably 15 at the time. I absolutely did not deserve to be on the team.

Gardner: Sure you did. I loved it.

Bush: Bigger opportunities would come later, such as inviting me to join Supernova when that launched. But that moment when you invited me onto the Stock Advisor, Best Buys Now team, is when I internally decided that if someone is making a bet on me, that will affect other people then I need to become good enough to where I know I can win. Then in my mind, that is when losing was no longer an option and so I worked really hard. That's what pushed my hours up. I know it was just a couple of votes a month rather than weighing some points among a really large team. I remember spending my entire summer glued to my computer and discussion boards. Really it is that moment that helped push me to try to become professional in some way. But it was also the time when it was pushed to the discussion boards where I just wrote a lot more and it helped me become a better writer, and I think as a result of writing more also a better thinker. That was a pretty huge catalyst that I'm eternally grateful for you giving me that opportunity. I think I've said this a couple of places before, but I think you took a bet on me that many others wouldn't even have thought to take. In some sense, it was a Rule Breaker bet on me that I appreciate. I don't know if that's how you think about it at all, David, but however, you think about it or thought about it at the time, I'm forever grateful for that opportunity.

Gardner: Well, that's very kind of you. I would say that I wasn't thinking of it as a hand-up or anything like that. I just saw somebody who was good and interested. Whether you're 15 or my age 55 today doesn't really matter to me so much as the quality of someone's thinking in their effort. Aaron, I'm looking right now at your capstopfool.com player page, you're @TMFPaladin, anybody who wants to google @TMFPaladin, all one word, and then CAPS will probably find your pics, and I'm seeing the first pics you ever put into CAPS. You may not remember this but the date was August 9th of 2007. How old were you on August 9th of 2007?

Bush: I want to say I was 12.

Gardner: How about that? You picked Apple, which went on to up four times in value for you. You picked Netflix, although you had a quick yank on it, four months later, it went up 44%, market down 5%. You were content at that moment to junk your Netflix off of caps, but what I see mainly here is a kid 12 years old who typed in about 15 stock picks, NVIDIA among them some monster winners, and you were 12. So yeah, at the age of 15, I was happy to say Aaron joined my team, a larger, diverse team of people who helped vote for the Best Buys Now for Motley Fool Stock Advisor. That was my thinking. Now let's move on to No. 3, the third key moment, Aaron, making you the investor that you are today.

Bush: I think it goes back to college and I talked about this a little bit. School bored me, and so in college, I spent a lot of time in more entrepreneurial circles in Austin, Texas, watching some of the best and brightest people in Austin start companies, mentor students, and figure out for themselves how to survive and scale. I'd always hustled to make money in small ways. I sold candy in seventh grade, I had a loan book for paying people's library fines, I rented school equipment when teachers demanded people to use pens and everyone had pencils, I would rent it out for a dollar in class, just dumb things like that. But this moment in time is what gave me a peak behind the scenes to really understand what makes real businesses click and what makes great leaders. It made me realize that yes, companies are more than what shows up in filings and earnings reports, which is all that I'd really seen until then.

There are also people, people doing all of these things, and I also realized that I'm not necessarily different from all of these people who are making these interesting life decisions and creating lots of value doing new things. I knew that I had always chartered my own path to some extent, but it gave me even more confidence to stop playing the game that I felt society had set up for me to play and chart my own path as I saw fit even more. I haven't personally scaled my own business at least yet, but this same mindset is what gave me perspective and made me comfortable with leaving school to work at The Motley Fool.

I knew at that time that I still had a lot of room to better hone my investing instincts, and I think as long as I live, that'll be true for me and everyone who's an investor, especially as the world changes, you always need to catch up. But I was comfortable, as I mentioned, both betting on myself and then not just betting on Motley Fool as a company on paper, but more specifically the people, the vision, and the hustle behind that company that makes that all possible. It changed my view on business and as a result, changed my view on investing a little bit too.

Gardner: Aaron, I think of you, again, as a disruptive, in a good way, thinker, a breaker of the rules, you come at things from different angles, you often reverse conventional wisdom, which is what we Fools try to do. Some of us, it comes naturally, some it's a more practiced thing that we learn over time. I'm curious if you were giving a talk to kids today about how to think freely or how not to be playing somebody else's game, but start playing your own game, is there a trade you would underlying or some bit of advice you would give, not just to kids, but to anybody to help us think a little bit more openly and sometimes creatively about our lives.

Bush: I think that whenever you notice yourself or if you're a parent and you notice in your kid any ounce of obsessiveness or interest in something, it's probably wise to lean in and support it as much as you can. You don't want to over push it necessarily, but if you see the seed of something you never know what it's going to grow into, and if you take a shot on that seed and support it, you might be surprised with what you end up with, and it might surpass your expectations in the end. That's all I would really say. I think in general to kids, I would say don't necessarily listen to all the advice that's given to you, think for yourself. Maybe that's even counter to what I just said, but I think that there is some truth to leaning in when you think you're interested in something, whatever that is, it doesn't have to be investing, it could be marine biology, it could be all across the spectrum.

Gardner: You bet you.

Bush: That's what makes society function to be an amazing place to be. But yes, I think leaning in as early as you can, gives yourself a little bit of an edge which can really compound over time and turn into something amazing for yourself, but also the world at large.

Gardner: Well said. Aaron, before I let you go, I suppose I should say, Aaron, you do have a lot of Motley Fool Rule Breaker members listening to us right now, is there anything you'd like to say to our fellow breakers?

Bush: First of all, David, I'm extremely honored and grateful to be given the opportunity to follow in your footsteps with Rule Breakers. I'm extremely excited to be doing it with Tim as well. I've learned a ton from both of you over the years, and I'm excited to carry on that torch and that legacy, in the years to come. In a lot of ways, I don't think much is going to change. I very much believe in the investing framework and the investing mentality that you've laid out with Rule Breakers, it's something I've practiced myself for several years. I was on the Rule Breakers team not too long ago and have been thinking about that framework in more of a portfolio context and other services as well. But of course, we're all different people, we all have different perspectives and different experiences that could lead to some different kinds of investments just naturally. For example, at the Motley Fool, we can now recommend cryptocurrencies, which I'm not saying we're going to go crazy in Rule Breakers with cryptocurrencies, [laughs] but there might be an example or two of where Tim and I take the service in a couple of new directions, all while keeping the spirit and the mentality of what you've laid out and succeeded with tremendously over the past several years. I'm extremely excited, and as I mentioned, still very grateful as well.

Gardner: Thank you so much, Aaron. Good to be with you. That was really well said, and yes, you know that I would want you, and Tim's about to join me for this week's podcast. I want you guys to do whatever makes the most sense to you and to our members and take the service, no doubt, to new heights. So thank you very much, Aaron Bush. Fool on, sir.

Bush: Thank you, David, Fool on.

Gardner: Well, from one Rule Breaker, we go to another. Thank you again to Aaron Bush for joining us to tell his story this week. Now I've got my friend, Tim Beyers, to join in. Tim, as many of you will know, is a longtime analyst at The Motley Fool, certainly on the Motley Fool Rule Breakers team for just about the entirety of the service. We're going to say at least 16.5 years as a fellow Rule Breaker team and also of course, working across a number of other services where you're an advisor looking at stocks often in the technology realm. Tim Beyers, it's great to have you with us.

Tim Beyers: It's great to be here, David. Thanks a lot for having me on.

Gardner: Thank you, and I think that you've humored me, you've played the game, Tim, you have taken the time to write down the story of your life.

Beyers: Oh, I did.

Gardner: In exactly 150 words, so I'd say without further ado, Timothy Richard Beyers, tell your story.

Beyers: Born on August 16th, 1969 in Glen Cove, New York, I spent the first nine years of my life between Queens and a little town called North Babylon, New York before we moved to Simi Valley, California in 1978. Unfortunately, I hated Southern California almost upon arrival and swore I'd go back, which I did, earning a graduate scholarship to Syracuse University in 1991, finishing with a master's degree in public relations in 1993. Since irony never disappoints, I decided two East Coast winters was enough and moved to Southern California and met my wife two years later. We married in '97, moved to Colorado in '98. We have three older kids today. Both personally and professionally, I've made an extraordinary number of mistakes, both small and catastrophic, and my eclectic and varied career are a byproduct of that. Although nothing's been more fulfilling than joining The Fool, and this is not in the 150 words, but this is true, I counted this bit precisely, 17 years, 5 months, and 17 days ago.

Gardner: Wow. Love that. Thank you, Tim, and thank you for taking the time really succinctly to capture most of our life. Now you and I are somewhere around twice the age of Aaron Bush?

Beyers: Oh, yes.

Gardner: Twice the time we're going to stay. But that means you've had to be really selective looking back over the life and I naturally have a couple of follow-ups. What was it about Simi Valley? That's a lovely place for some people for some good things. What was so odd or off-kilter for you? A New York kid, I understand, but what was it about California?

Beyers: This is something that my coworkers still have some good fun at my expense, and by the way, I fully embrace this. I'm very much a pizza snob, and [laughs] where this comes from, David, so we landed in California. I remember this, I was nine years old, and we got to a hotel where we were going to stay out overnight. I saw on the way there, we were just coming in, what was it called? It was this place called the Pizza Pub, and this was in the San Fernando Valley, I was like, "Oh great, it's pizza, like a little slice of home." We went to this place and it was like a saltine cracker crust. I don't know what this is, but it's not pizza.

"Where are we? Get me out of here immediately." That was my nine-year-old reaction, and then there were just other things like I showed up as a New York kid. My dad was this huge sports fan, so I just adopted that to be close to him. Today, I much more of a very casual fan, but back then, I was aping my dad being very rabid. Of course I was this rabid Yankees fan showing up in 1978 when they're playing the Dodgers for the world series. How could your timing be any worse if you're trying to make friends in school? It was a weird time. For the first several years, just being uprooted at that age and going to what essentially was an alien landscape felt very strange.

Gardner: I hear you Tim. Simi Valley, I think a Northwest suburb of the City of Los Angeles, Southern California.

Beyers: It is.

Gardner: Very different admittedly. You head back to Syracuse and you get a graduate scholarship. Nice trick if you can pull it, well done. What was it about public relations or communications that made it your calling?

Beyers: It really wasn't. My dad convinced me to do it because like I said, I was a rabid sports fan and that's how I would connect with my dad when I was younger. At age 11, I decided I wanted to be a writer, and I started working for the newspaper at the same time. I was just a newspaper carrier and I would walk my route up and down the hill. I got into that, I got into statistics. I think we've talked about this before. I got all of the sports board games, which fit my brain. I'm a casual sports fan, but I will die on the vine of Strat-O-Matic baseball being the greatest board game ever. [laughs] I'll die on that hill because I love that. I do love numbers, I love statistics, and it blended those things for me. That became a thing that my dad wanted me to pursue. Like, "Hey, you're doing this, why don't you go for it?" When I got into college, my undergraduate was this tiny school in the neighboring town called Thousand Oaks, California Lutheran University. I had a work study program and I worked in the sports information department which was basically like sports PR. You write like media guides and things like that, and it helped pay for school.

When I got to Syracuse, I did not get an academic scholarship to Syracuse. What I got was me calling Syracuse every week for a year because they were one of the few schools in the country at that time that had a program where they paid their graduate assistants in the sports information department. There were two slots, and one opened every year. That was like, I'm not going to get this on my grades because I was a lazy student, and I'm not going to get it on my test scores because I was a lazy student, so I have to get this by being the person who wants it more than anybody else. I called every week for a year and I got the scholarship.

Gardner: Wow, that is a great story, Tim. As a fellow dice baseball fan, Strat-O-Matic took up a big bunch of my youth, many hours, no regrets, and many other dice sports games besides. We don't have time for that. I wish we could go there, maybe some future conversation. But Tim, I feel as if we're almost getting into your stock graph a little bit now. Let's start moving that direction because we were talking about the arc of your life, and so you've taken a little bit of time on a piece of paper to trace out the stock graph of your life. What's the first bump up or down that you'd like to share?

Beyers: Well, I think the first bump honestly was moving from New York to California.

Gardner: Sounds like it.

Beyers: That was weird, traumatic. I didn't realize how formative that was at the time and how much I took it personally. Can you imagine being a preteen and you're shaking your finger at mom and dad like, "I'm going back. No, this is not for me. I'm going back." I did that. That was really formative, I would say.

Gardner: I hear you.

Beyers: I try to make that part of my identity, but probably in a more unhealthy way than I should have.

Gardner: Fair enough. Well, I can also relate to making many mistakes. I think most of us can especially, Tim, you and I as stock pickers for Rule Breakers and other places around The Fool. We get it wrong a lot and it's really important that we be allowed to get it wrong a lot because that's what gets it so right. For example, you brought Salesforce to Rule Breakers members more than a decade ago. Pretty good stock, but you know what? We've had some losers to win that way. Of course, I've done other podcasts on that, we'll just push that aside and keep moving. Let's go along your graph. What do we encounter next along this curve?

Beyers: Well, I'd say when I listened to Jason Moser's interview and he started out, as he said, like a penny stock, I would say the graph of my life as we're going to describe it is a growth stock that got away far ahead of itself and has really crashed. I'm going to say undervalued today, but I had a stratospheric rise. I think the next big thing is, as I adopted, what my dad advised me to do for career goodness, getting into college. I had this moment where, like I said, I was a lazy student and this was formative for me. This would've been my senior year of high school. I took a test to go to this school that I was going to because I knew I could get into that college. I scored immensely well on this test, so much so that I would've gotten a scholarship, and my family did not have any money to begin with. This would have been really formative.

Gardner: Amazing.

Beyers: It would've been really formative if I had done this. It turned out that my grades, I had done just enough to get a B average. They came back and said yes. It would have been like a $10,000 a year scholarship. I got disqualified for it because my grade point average was 3/10 of 1% short of the minimum requirement. I got disqualified for it. That became, this is not going to be how it goes for me. I'm not going to be --

Gardner: Major motivator.

Beyers: Yeah, not going to be.

Gardner: How old were you when that happened, high school senior?

Beyers: I was a high school senior. It was strange. I'd gotten so far behind. Then finally my senior year, I don't even remember what my GPA was, but it was near the top of the class. I finally started actually turning on the gas a little bit. It turned out it was like I should've done that back when I was a freshman.

Gardner: Tim, you described a stratospheric rise earlier, maybe a stock that got ahead of itself at some point, which by the way, many Rule Breakers stocks do almost inevitably. Where are we headed next?

Beyers: I would say the next thing is when I finished up grad school and came back to California and decided two winters in a row where I think the first year we had a 190 inches of snow in Syracuse, and the second year it was 160 inches, and I decided that was 200 inches too many.

Gardner: Yeah.

Beyers: I went back to California and I started working for this PR firm. I think I've told this story many times. It was a tech PR firm. I had to learn how to speak the language of tax, so I just started absorbing everything I could. It was like learning of foreign language and reading all of the journals of the time. I got good enough at speaking the language that over the course of several years, this is going to be a few years, but at the time that I was working in this career, probably I'm going to say within the space of five years, I became the youngest Vice President in the history of the firm that I was working for at the time that I encountered The Motley Fool. I was 29. I was way too young for that.

Gardner: But forget about age, because having just talked with Aaron and he started with the Fool when he was 12, I don't focus so much on age, but I certainly appreciate the point and maybe the humility implicit in it, Tim. But it seems to me that you had gotten to where you were because you really were willing to get your feet wet and your hands dirty and learn. That strikes me as one of your defining traits and a real strength of yours. It almost doesn't matter what country you are in or what industry you might have been in, if you have that attitude, I feel like you could make that horizon legitimately. It feels as if you might feel like you had impostor syndrome there at some point, I'm not even sure whether you felt justified in that, but I'm darn glad that you found The Motley Fool right around that time. Maybe that takes us to the next stop along the graph.

Beyers: It does because, and I'm going to save the other piece of this for the three seminal moments, but the first piece of this is when I was at that agency, I don't know if you're going to remember this [laughs] story, David, but you and Tom had a profile in Fast Company and I'm going to say it was either 1997 or 1998, it may have been 2000, but when I first encountered The Motley Fool Investment Guide, I had seen it in a bookstore, I picked it up, I devoured it, and then I saw the story in Fast Company. What was interesting about this, and I love this, I've never, ever forgotten it, but in the story, the headline was "Fools No More," and it's you and Tom, both in your belt caps. But the cut-line had you transposed. [Tom was David Gardner, and you were Tom Gardner.

Gardner: It's happened before, it will probably happen again.

Beyers: I wrote in order to apply to The Motley Fool back in 2000, before the dot-com crash, I wrote a message, an email to Tom and I swear this is true, I don't think Tom remembers it, but the headline of this email was, "You grew hair." Because I knew the humor of The Motley Fool and I'd been listening to it.

Gardner: I know you made him laugh. You certainly got his attention.

Beyers: I did, and then I started talking to a recruiter, but that just ended up being the wrong timing. What turned out is that, later that year, the firm that I was working for was acquired by another firm called FleishmanHillard, which happened to be the PR firm for The Motley Fool at the time.

Gardner: That's right.

Beyers: I met a woman who became my friend, who no longer works for The Fool, she was named Jamie Patten, at the time, and is now named Jamie Cross because she is married to our Chief Investment Officer. I answered the bell to like, do interviews on behalf, "Hey, is there anybody here reading The Motley Fool?" I was like, "Sign me up. What do you want me to say?" I just started talking with Jamie and that led to a relationship that became my first try out for The Motley Fool a few years later.

Gardner: Thank you very much for that memory. I'm not even sure I fully knew that story, but Jamie Patten, a long-time, wonderful fellow Fool employee. Left The Fool, but in part never will, because, as you mentioned, part of the greater Fool family and a wonderful woman. I'm delighted to know that connection. We all come to things in life through different means. Sometimes through connection, sometimes through happenstance, sometimes by grading out in some way, shape or form and, Tim, in different ways, all of those seem true of your story. Before we get to the three key moments that make you the investor that you are today, I'm curious whether you'd like to briefly share any of your adventures from starting as a contractor to becoming now a full employee at The Fool. When did that happen?

Beyers: It's funny that you mention that, David, because as we are recording this on June 1st, so my full-time, I celebrate my fool-a-versary on the day that my first story was published, which is December 17th, 2003, but my actual full-time Fool-a-versary is June 1st, 2018. This is my three years of being a full-time employee. I guess I'd call this point number four along the stopped graph, which is, I knew that I was not ready, which is why I withdrew my application at 2000, and it turned out to be fortunate timing because shortly thereafter, the dotcom crash hit.

Gardner: I remember.

Beyers: Of course you do. I mean, the story of what happened to The Fool during that period. What happened, it's funny. The agency that I was working for at the time was bought and it was slowly dismantled to the point where we used to do this thing at The Motley Fool before I was a contractor, is this email newsletter every day called Fool Watch.

Gardner: Yeah.

Beyers: That would be my essential reading. Every single day, I could not wait for that email to come into my inbox and I would read it every day. I was reading Bill Mann, Jeff Fischer, Tom Jacobs, Todd Etter, used to write for the Fool Watch newsletter from time-to-time.

Gardner: That's right.

Beyers: Your stuff was in there, there were updates on the old Rule Breaker portfolio before there was Motley Fool Rule Breakers, and so in one of those newsletters back in 2003, there was a call for freelance writers and a few months before, I had convinced Jamie that, "Hey, I was going to be out in Alexandria, Virginia." That was not true, I was actually going on a trip with my neighbor to Gettysburg to visit the battlefield because I hadn't done that before, and he was a big Civil War buff. I was like, "Hey, you know what? It's just a train ride. If it can work, I would love to go down there and see it. She set me up. That's the first time that you and I met. I went into the headquarters on Pitt Street and you were very generous, Tom was very generous and I got to meet the former Managing Editor, a man by the name, Bob Bobala. Few months later, the call opens, I told Jamie, I said, "I'm going to go for this, can you help me? Can you talk to Bob?" She said, "Sure." I spent, I'm going to say the better part of a month, writing up my application, and I put together this pitch for Akamai.

Beyers: I submitted it, and I got an email from Bob. He said, "Okay, I'd like to buy this." I was jubilant. In the next sentence, he was like, "What else have you got for me?" That became the beginning of my contract and journey. Fast-forward, almost 15 years, I had a conversation. Fools may not know people who are listening to this. We have an office in Colorado, and I think folks started moving out here in 2015 or 2016, I didn't know about that. I found out about it by chance, but my contract had changed at one point. Me, Rick, and Karl got incentivized to be doing a lot more research, not just for Rule Breakers but for all of the Fool services. I was pummeling everybody with ideas, and our Director of Research at the time, Alex Scherer said, "I just assume to have you as a full-time employee." I said, "Is that possible?" While we were in Colorado, and that's how it came to be.

Gardner: A lot of people have gotten to know you even better through COVID with Motley Fool Live, where you've regularly been hosting. Of course, many will know you as a Rule Breakers analyst, and Akamai was indeed thanks to you in early Rule Breakers, and a fine performer for our service. Tim Beyers, what is the first key moment making you the investor that you are today?

Beyers: In my junior year of high school, I was in what's called the stock market club, and I just tried it because one of my very best friends when I was a kid, his dad was an investor. I had no connection to that in my own family, so we did this, and we placed third in the state of California. I remember that distinctly from our teacher. Now, that's partly a big function of us choosing to go with the smallest penny stocks and getting lucky. But I have never lost the drive to crush the market. I get a real kick out of that, and that really is my drive. I want to serve our members, but I really do, David, I want to beat the tar out of the market on a regular basis, and I love that.

Gardner: It's such a great first key moment. I have an analog in my own life that I won't share right now, but I can relate, so can any kid who's ever won a contest involving stocks. If they were a kid, it probably is something you remember as an adult. Tim, what is key investor moment No. 2 the making of.

Beyers: In '99, you and Tom put out a book called Rule Makers, Rule Breakers, or Rule Breakers, Rule Makers, I believe it is. Tom showed up with a few Fools to our favorite independent book store here in Colorado called The Tattered Cover. I went out to see him. I got a signing, it's the first time I'd met Tom. I said, "Hey, you need to start doing remote work. You've got to make it happen out here. I want to work for you," and that was my first pitch to work for The Motley Fool. But then when I had that visit, and some Fools, we used to have this really great Fool named Raven who was the front desk, and he was on that trip. When I went out on the trip I was telling you about, he was so kind, and he had the jester at the front of the pitch street office, I'm like, "You had me at the jester, I have to work for this company."

Gardner: That is great, Tim, and I have to say, remembering my first trip to The Tattered Cover, which I think was The Motley Fool Investment Guide back in 1996 maybe. But what a wonderful independent bookstore, a life of the party kind of a place. I haven't been back since, so I'm sure it's still going because it's got to be one of those independents that's going to be around, but really a community mainstay, and one of the best book stores. I love that story, and yeah, that definitely has helped make you the investor that you are because it connected you to us. Tim, what is the third and concluding key moment that has made you the investor that you are?

Beyers: Well, April 20th, 2005, I think is the day that changed my life because that's when you accepted Akamai into the Rule Breakers newsletter service. But before that, I had really good fortune. You may not remember this, but the reason I think we got connected is because we were connected the year prior. We used to do the Stocks Annual, and it was stocks, name the year, and we would all do a year-end pick, and your year-end pick in 2004 was Palm 1. I got chosen to interview you and write it, and I think you liked that I inserted the Maxwell Smart shoe phone analogy, [laughs] and we got a laugh over that. Six months later, there was an open call. I remember Rex Moore, who Fools probably know, because he's in some of our straight ads. Greg, former financial editor of mine, and he opened up a call to the newsletters, and so I pitched Akamai, and I remember you accepted it. Then I wasn't sure what was going to happen after that, and you did the bubble baller thing. David, you said, "All right, what else have you got for me?" That's how it started, and it's never stopped.

Gardner: That's just a great story, Tim. I really appreciate, especially about your key moments, they're more human moments. Meeting the person or getting an opportunity or, really, I think a defining aspect of you making opportunities for yourself through your passion and your persistence. Boy, if that hasn't paid off in spades for you and for all of us as your fellow Fools. Tim Beyers, I really appreciate all three of those moments and the commonality that runs through them. Let me conclude with you in the same way I concluded with Aaron, and then say goodbye to our listeners for this week, and this has been a delight. Tim, any thoughts about Rule Breakers, the service which you are now transitioning along with Aaron to lead for our members listening?

Beyers: You're going to see a lot of things that are going to be familiar because I've been on Rule Breakers for 16 years, and I love it. There's probably some things that will change, but that's going very slowly, and I expect very little. I think the thing that is most important to me about Rule Breakers, well, the most important thing is the friendships over those 16 years. Working with you and Karl, and Rick, I can't even describe how meaningful those years have been for me and formative, they've just been amazing. But I also say, the principle, if you do nothing else as an investor, if you learn the principle of being willing to look at the world differently, I bet you'll have success as an investor. If you don't, then I bet it'll be harder to have success as an investor. That's what Rule Breakers is about. It's about taking a look at the world a little bit differently, being willing to do that, being willing to be wildly wrong, and just keep going. I think that will not change, and I love that about Motley Fool Rule Breakers.

Gardner: Well, I hear you, Tim, and I think back on all those years, 16 of them, yeah, but of course, we're mainly focused where we've always been both for our members and on the stock market, and that's the future. I'm excited about the future that you are going to bring Motley Fool Rule Breakers members along with our team, and for the many interesting investments that we'll all find together. Tim, this has been a delight from your stratomatic days as [laughs] let's say, a New York kid out of place in California to somebody who basically saw what he was interested in and pursued it at consistent points in different ways throughout his adult life, and look how that's brought you to us. Tim Beyers, thank you very much for telling your story this week on Rule Breaker Investing.

Beyers: Thanks, David. Really appreciate it.

Gardner: All right. Well, Aaron Bush and Tim Beyers, we suffered two wonderful Fools gladly this week, and I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. I think I want to reiterate one thing at close, and that is if you are an investor, and the truth is that 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. I should say that if you switched onto that, and you recognize that you're an investor, whether you're a 12-year old kid on your grandfather's financial calculator or maybe you're at dice baseball player, somebody who appreciates numbers and competition and wants to win, wants to, in this case, beat the market. You will realize that your story will inevitably be shaped by the investing that you do.

The stock stories, our stories become intertwined. They weave their way through our lives. Here's one more key insight. Boy, if it isn't also true that the more investing you do, and the more you take care with it, the better that you do. That story of your creation has a better and better chance of being a story with more and more possibilities, and one I hope with a very happy ending. Speaking of endings, do you remember that ending from Hamilton, the musical. When you're gone, who remembers your name? Who keeps your flame? Who tells your story? Fool on.

Aaron Bush owns shares of Starbucks and Take-Two Interactive. David Gardner owns shares of Apple, Netflix, and Starbucks. Tim Beyers owns shares of Apple and Netflix. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple, NVIDIA, Netflix, Starbucks, and Take-Two Interactive. The Motley Fool recommends the following options: long January 2023 $115 calls on Take-Two Interactive, long March 2023 $120 calls on Apple, short July 2021 $120 calls on Starbucks, and short March 2023 $130 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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