The Motley Fool is an investment website that tries to provide solid financial information about the stock market without taking itself too seriously. One of its many offerings is a weekly email called “Foolish Wisdom,” and one that arrived recently contains some valuable ideas about investing and beyond.
The email interviewed a former Motley Fool writer, Morgan Housel, about “five kinds of stupidity” that people should try to recognize and avoid. The first couple on the list were basic: Know what you’re good at without thinking you’re good at everything; and remember that what worked once may not work again.
But the really good insights began with this suggestion: “As the world changes, you need insight from people with different worldviews.”
When the host cited an idea that everybody needs a mentor who is younger than they are, Housel responded, “My 3-year-old son, this is no exaggeration, is more adept at using an iPad than my parents. ... And I think when you and I are in our 60s, it’s going to be the same thing. There’s going to be things that 30-year-olds, 20-year-olds, understand that we just will not be able to wrap our heads around.
“As the world evolves, to be able to understand the views of someone who’s seen a different world than you, has grown up with different values than you, is really important.”
Another excellent point involved the difference between book smarts and wisdom.
“If you’re taking a test in school, as long as you calculate the right answer, you win. That’s all you need to know,” Housel said. “And if you’re a jerk, if you can’t communicate with people, it doesn’t matter. You calculate the right answer, you’re good. But in the real world, once you start working at companies, that’s not the case whatsoever.
“Most of us have probably seen someone who was an absolute straight-A student at a great school, just off-the-charts intelligent, and they flounder in their careers because it’s a very different skill that you need in the workplace than it is tested in school. ... What is intelligence? It’s your grades at school. But that doesn’t necessarily translate to how well you’re going to do in the real world. There’s so many other skills that you need to know.”
To boil it down, we all stand a better chance of success if we seek other opinions and if we can communicate clearly. That is good advice for investing — and just about anything else.