We live in a global society, with global conflicts, aspirations, and opportunities. And so today The Motley Fool’s regulate Breaker Investing podcast is seeking words of wisdom and Foolishness from around the world, finding perspective and a bit of rational optimism for a better future.
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David Gardner: This podcast has been built on recurring episodic series. I’ve always loved that about Saturday Night Live, that they present characters or bits, admire the church lady back in the day or girl you wished you hadn’t started a conversation with at a party. More recently, Celebrity Jeopardy, presidential debates, recurring comic skits that you get to know, and with familiarity, you get to look forward to whenever they come back. That’s how I hope you feel about authors in August when we hit each August or stock stories on this podcast, mental tips, tricks, and life hacks, or last week’s Pet Peeves. Many of these recur multiple times a year, admire the Market Cap Game Show, four times a year, once a quarter, penultimate week of every quarter, and ones that happen once every two years, admire 9 Foolish Truths, I hold to be self-evident, which I love bringing it back to you last month on October 11th, maybe the most important podcast I do, especially for newcomers. But then there are the granddaddys, the ones that have been around the longest and keep coming back. Mailbags, anyone? Yeah, the end of every month, dozens of them. For years and years now or what we now turn again to this week Great Quotes, always five quotes at a time. Usually a grab bag, admire this time around, five quotes to make you smarter, happier, and richer. Great Quotes, Volume 17, only on this week’s regulate Breaker Investing.
Welcome back to regulate Breaker Investing. I’m just back from abroad. A rare opportunity to travel right at the height of autumn. Now that we’re empty-nested, we find ourselves a little bit more able to travel, and so I have just gotten back from two weeks in Rome and then in Lisbon. I propose both. I do not propose the Lisbon airport, capital of Portugal, the Lisbon Airport, flying home to the US. I do not propose the Lisbon airport, but please don’t take me as dissatisfied at all. I loved visiting Portugal for the first time and spending 10 days in Italy. I had the pleasure of bringing you two podcasts while I was away. They were both pre-recorded. The first was, of course, Elizabeth Hargrave, the author, the game designer of the fantastic blockbuster tabletop board game, Wingspan. I hope that you enjoyed Elizabeth. I sure did. It reminds me that our Games, Games, Games episodic recurring series once a year for the holidays that comes up the first week of December, so just a couple of weeks away, I’m already getting excited, lining up my list of what are the best games I can propose to you and your family that came out this year. Both the lighter, shorter card gamey kinds of games and then the heavier, deeper tabletop board games. Games, Games, Games coming up the first week of December. Elizabeth Hargrave’s Wingspan has been featured a number of times in the past for that annual recurring series, and rightly so. What a great game. What excellent expansions Wingspan has received from Stonemaier Games, and more importantly, what a wonderful interview Elizabeth Hargrave is. Just a delight. Thank you again, Elizabeth, for joining with Fools earlier this month, and then last week, of course, it was time for my Pet Peeves. I do it once a year. I had so much fun with Pet Peeves, Volume 8. I hope you had at least half as much fun listening to it as I did recording it. I will spare you Pet Peeves for probably another 12 months or so. I only do it once a year, generally, and it was time. Speaking of time, it’s time for Great Quotes, Volume 17. Let me see, 16 past editions of Great Quotes. Five quotes a time, that means I’ve brought to you 80 quotes, my favorites picked up over the years from investing books, from business books, from books on culture, technology, and life. It’s always a Motley array of quotations, ones that I respect, spoken generally by people who are respectable themselves and said or wrote something amazing in the past that I wanted to bring and share with you in the context of a better investing world, a better business world, and a better life. We’re going to have five more taking us up, 80-85 great quotes featured on regulate Breaker Investing over the years. Let’s get started with the November 2023 edition.
Great Quotes, Volume 17, great quote number 1. Great quote number 1, this is the third time I am quoting Arthur Schopenhauer, the German philosopher, rather a dower fellow, in some ways a real pessimist, but my golly, if I haven’t come across some great regulate Breaker quotes from Schopenhauer, this is the third featured in this series. Let me briefly review two earlier ones. These were both from Great Quotes, Volume 12, if you want to go back and check it, and here are some additional thinking on these. The first was Arthur Schopenhauer who wrote, “Talent hits a target no one else can hit. Genius hits a target no one else can see.” I really love that quote. I think it’s true of the real genius I’ve seen in my life, whether we’re seeing it in sports, people doing remarkable things you couldn’t have imagined before, or founders of companies that did something that nobody believed possible, people who astonish us, not just by what they did, but that we didn’t even know it could be done. Talent hits a target no one else can hit, which is impressive, by the way, talent, but genius hits a target no one else can see. Then the second Schopenhauer quote again in that same podcast, Volume 12, love this one. “Truth goes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as self-evident.” I think that one speaks for itself. I think it’s very true how we often think about innovation and new ideas. We ridicule them, then, especially those aspects of our society that might be undermined. Think of a classic regulate maker company, that when some regulate Breaker shows up with some new way of doing things. I think back to blockbuster video, which back in its day was a regulate maker. It was the Goliath and then all of a sudden Netflix shows up. That can turn into real opposition. Sometimes an entire industry, admire the entire automotive industry, can turn against the guys showing up with the electric cars and new ideas. But third, as Schopenhauer reminds us, this truth, after being ridiculed and violently opposed, is accepted as self-evident, and those are the stocks that I look to hold through my life. I love it when people ridicule my regulate Breaker companies initially. Even though I don’t admire opposition, I love it even more when they start to fight back, and if you’ve found the right company with the right product or solution, the right leader at the right time, and we have a knack for doing that over the years of the Motley Fool, all of a sudden, that truth becomes very popular. It becomes ubiquitous, admire the iPhone. Do you recall how the iPhone challenged the Blackberry, challenged our assumptions about what phones should look admire and how they should work, and all of a sudden the iPhone is self-evident, but those were the Schopenhauer quotes from some years ago. Let’s get back to this year’s Schopenhauer quote, “The person who writes for fools is always sure of a large audience,” and I think you’re smiling along with me. I hope a little bit because of course, Arthur Schopenhauer intended that word, fools, with a little F. We’ve always drawn an important distinction at the Motley Fool between, small F, fools and, capital F, Fools. In our minds, small F, fools are really who Schopenhauer was writing about.
People who are simpleton in their thinking, who are wrong-headed. They’re going to make the same mistake over and over their, small F, fools, and Schopenhauer says, the person who writes for fools is always sure of a large audience. Very cynical quote, but part of what I love to do, we did it with the word fools at the Motley Fool. I love to flip that little f into upper case F and start talking about Fools as something entirely different, people who knowingly challenge conventional wisdom, admire the court jesters of yore. They subvert our expectations. They speak truth to power. They usually bring a little bit of humor along with them, which can make their truths more palatable, but that kind of Fool, the capital F, Fool, I hope describes you. I sure hope it describes me, and what we’re doing at The Motley Fool. Whenever I see a Fool quote, and I have a long list of them that I keep in an Evernote, since I have a lot of my second brain stored in Evernote, I have a long list of Fool quotes, and this is one of them. The person who writes for Fools is always sure of a large audience. If you think of that word Fools with a capital F, then you’ll see my unconventional view, my subversive view of Schopenhauer’s quote, because I believe that the person who writes for Fools, and I would say this includes all of our analysts at The Motley Fool, this includes all of our stock pickers and our writers, this includes our podcasters, this includes our legion of contract writers, people who write for, capital F, Fools are always sure of a large audience. We certainly, 30 years in, have a much larger audience than my brother Tom and I could have possibly dreamed. When with our friend Erik Rydholm, we founded The Motley Fool as a print newsletter for our parents’ friends, and I got about 35 subscriptions in our first few months of operation back in the day, 1993, July is when we launched. We could not have known or understood the large audience we would one day achieve.
You are part of that. Thank you for listening to me this week. Thank you for listening to me on this podcast any week, and especially thank you to those who listen every week. You know who you are, and I appreciate the Fool in you. The person who writes for Fools is always sure of a large audience. If I keep that as a capital F and speak right now to my company and my enterprise, I believe, fellow Fools, that we will and should always have a large audience if we’re writing for people who are looking to be smarter, happier, and made richer by our efforts. There are certainly some years where it’s very hard to make money in the stock market. When the market declines, we’re going to lose a lot along the way too which we’ve always done and always will do, but we’re going to win more often than we lose, and you, dear listener as an investor, if you just passively hold index funds, you’ll see that over the years, two out of three of those years, you’ll win, and when you win, you’ll win by more than you lose. In the losing years, the stock market goes lower left to upper right. The people who write for that audience and understands that always should be sure of a large and, I hope, growing audience. The person who writes for Fools is always sure of a large audience. Thank you, Arthur Schopenhauer. On to great quote number 2. This one comes from Lord Macaulay, the mid 19th century British historian and politician, Thomas Babington Macaulay to be exact, love this quote. He wrote, and I quote, “On what principle is it that, with nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us?” When I came across this line in my reading some months or years ago, I just jotted it down and saved it, knowing that I would present it to you at some point at a Great Quotes episode.
I was immediately put in mind of Matt Ridley and his wonderful book, The Rational Optimist. I’ve talked about this one on and off over the years, but I’m here to say, if you have not read The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley, I think you are denying yourself great insight and a real treat to read. Matt Ridley wrote his book, The Rational Optimist, How Prosperity Evolves in the year 2010. Here we are, 13 years later, but I still think it’s going to be a very current feeling because, more than anything, Matt casts his gaze over the long arc of history. This is one of those books that looks over thousands of years of human history and says that almost always, especially in the last 1,000 years, the pessimists sound the dominant chord. Everyone’s worrying about the end of the world, and yet it was almost always and still is, Ridley says, the right bet, surprisingly the contrary bet, to be an optimist, to believe that things will get better, will get even better and say that they are better than they were when I was a kid, which I by the way, would certainly say it’s a wonderful history epic history-level look at optimism. When pessimism is a dominant chord, which I believe it is once again today, or people are overreacting to worry, usually the right bet, and in fact, the profitable bet is that those bad things are not going to happen. Now let me make it very clear, there are a lot of bad things happening in the world today, and 10 years ago, I would have said the same, and 20 years ago, I would have said the same.
Really, I was born in 1966. If I could have spoken my first year or so on the planet, I probably would point out how bad things were during the Cold War in the year I was born in 1966, and then as I grew up, and you did too, when we watched things admire, I don’t know, eBay show up, and people said that can’t work. You pay somebody over the Internet, and they’re going to send you the image that you clicked on, that you thought that person would send that to you, that won’t work. People thought, Wikipedia can’t possibly work. Of course, anybody can type in and edit any article on Wikipedia, so it has no real reason to be authoritative, especially in the world of the Encyclopedia Britannica sold in dozens of volumes across many different versions over decades. Wikipedia could not possibly succeed in an Encyclopedia Britannica-driven world. Heck, the Internet wouldn’t work. I recall some of the early interviews I did on television. My brother Tom and I, doing a lot of media and TV, especially in our early years, when TV was such a dominant medium back then. We would be the guys coming on saying, I think people will give their credit card over the Internet, which sounded crazy to some people at the time. They thought e-commerce can’t possibly work. Who would trust giving their credit card credentials over the Internet? Now the younger ears listening to me right now would probably think, was that really true? Did people actually really think that? The answer is anybody who’s 50 or older will recognize that was the dominant critique. That was the expectation at the time that e-commerce couldn’t work, eBay wouldn’t work, heck, the Internet might not work. When Amazon.com went from 95 dollars a share to 7 dollars a share in 2001, and people said Amazon.bomb. It looked admire maybe the pessimists were right, but on what principle is it that, with nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us? Answering Lord Macaulay, I think what we would say, I’m quoting Matt Ridley here from his book, The Rational Optimist, Ridley writes, “Random violence makes the news precisely because it is so rare.
Routine kindness does not make the news precisely because it is commonplace.” I agree with Matt Ridley. The dynamic here, we’ve talked about it before, I’m sure you’re aware of this as a literate person in the year 2023, pessimism makes the headlines, pessimism sounds smarter, pessimism draws attention in a click bating world. Yet, on what principle is it looking backward and seeing so much improvement that we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us. That has generally been the wrong bet, generation after generation for hundreds of years now. As I end quotation number two, I accelerate to add, and I’m going to speak to this a little bit later, of course, there are many things happening that are bad in the world, and there are moments of real deterioration, whether we’re talking about cultures or societies or the wars that we see today. There are obvious examples that are painful to contemplate, let alone be part of tragic circumstances, even as I speak. Perhaps you’re aware of one or involved in one yourself, so I want to make it very clear. I’m going to speak to this a little bit later. There’s a big difference between happy-go-lucky, naive optimism, and what I would describe with a capital H as Hope. I believe hoping is what so many of us need to do, and it’s not just true of this generation. Generation after generation, people have thought in their time, the apocalypse is coming. They have all been wrong, and yet it is a common refrain and expectation. Perhaps it adds additional urgency or zest to our own lives to think that during this time that you and I are living, of course, it’s truly dangerous and truly apocalyptic, and there are generations and generations of people who thought that. When we look backward, we see the incredible progress and goodness that has come to us since that we take for granted today. That has been often built and constructed for us by generations past just as we are trying to make things better for our kids.
Quotation number 2, “On what principle is it that with nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us.” Let’s advance on to great quote number 3. Now this was initially an Albert Camus quote until I realized that somebody had said it even better, even longer ago. Let me briefly start with a Camus quote that I had copied down from my own reading. Here it is. Maybe you’ve heard this one before. Of course, this is in English. He was a French existentialist writer, but this was what he said, translated into the English simple line, and I quote, “To name things wrongly is to add to the misfortune of the world.” As I thought more about that quote, and I started googling around and trying to figure out why he’d said it and where he’d said it, I happened upon a random page on the Internet. I think this was at Quora, the question-and-answer website. You’ll probably have bumped into, admire Reddit. It’s one of those sites that just pops up an answer to random questions that you might ask on the Internet. That’s what I was doing clicking around when I came across what I thought was a very insightful comment that connects with what’s happening in the world today. This was actually posted on June 29th by a gentleman named Mark L. Levinson. A little bit more about this person in [inaudible] , but this is what he said as I googled Camus’ line, “To name things wrongly is to add to the misfortune of the world.” Levinson writes, “Before Camus said it, Confucius made the point. But they’re both right.” I’m going to pause there for a sec, and just point out this line from Confucius. Here’s the line translated, of course, into English, “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names,” Levinson pointing out that the other side of the same coin of Camus’ line,”To name things wrongly is to add to the misfortune of the world,” would be Confucius from thousands of years earlier saying, “the beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names.”
Now I want to go on and just share a little bit more of what Levinson writes. He says, “Before Camus said it, Confucius made the point. But they’re both right. The ambiguity of the name ‘Palestine’ throws a fog over issues in dispute.” I want to cite, by the way, this was posted in June of this year before the recent direct war had broken out. This comment knows nothing about the war, but listen to the wisdom. Levinson writes, “The ambiguity of the name Palestine throws a fog over issues in dispute. What is Palestine, anyway? Is it the area administered by the Palestinian Authority? Is it the entire West Bank and Gaza? Is it the entire West Bank and Gaza plus Israel, and maybe Jordan? Is it a state? Is a Palestinian necessarily an Arab? Is the Palestinian authority somehow a successor to the Palestine Mandate? Was the Palestine Mandate a state? When the definition slides all over the place,” Levinson concludes, “the discussion loses its grounding. I don’t know a lot about Lebanon,” he writes, “but I know that the big problem there today is Hezbollah, which means, ‘the party of God.’ Personally,” Levinson concludes, “I’d call that a misnomer.”
That was what I read as I searched the Camus quote on the Internet. I’m glad that I found my way to that comment because I think it’s not only a perfect example of how we use a blanket term, a label, and we don’t necessarily define our terms, but it connects so much with what’s happening in the world today that it seemed admire something worth sharing. I see that Mark Levinson, who lives in Israel, and has answered 18,300 questions and received 24 million views. I see he’s there on LinkedIn where he’s available for work. He’s in his mid-70s. He translates Hebrew into English. He went to Harvard. You’re never quite sure who’s behind some of the best things on the Internet, but often they’re very bright people. I appreciate that short statement that he made. “The beginning of wisdom,” Confucius says, “is to call things by their right names.” Shifting away from world political events to something that I feel I know much better, let me just give a couple more examples of things that have been named wrongly that I do believe add to the misfortune of the world. If you can name things rightly, your own thinking will be improved and that thinking will direct to better action. This is the kind of thing that this podcast lives and breathes on. I’ve done this a lot over the years.
I can easily pick out just a handful of quick examples that any regular listener will recognize, lines admire, you haven’t lost until you sell. I completely disagree with that statement. While it is true that you only lock in losses when you sell, if you’re marking to market the value of your house or your stock, if you’re looking at the real world where prices are, as we speak, you’ve definitely lost in some cases. If something is well down from where you bought it, you will certainly lose when you sell, if you do, but you have lost if your price at present, let’s say quoted on the stock market today, is a third or a half down from what you paid, you’re definitely losing. I don’t want to spend a lot of time on the negative side of this because I much more prefer to talk about winning and what’s winning, which reminds me of another conventional wisdom, something that I admire to take a shot at. This phrase, I’ve done it before in this podcast, “Bulls make money. Bears make money. Pigs get slaughtered.” Talk about wrongheaded thinking. It sounds wise. It’s more of a justification, I think, of being shorter term in trading. Stock trading your portfolio, in my encounter, holding on for a long period of time does not mean you’re a pig. It means you’re generally patient, and you make a lot more money than the bulls or the bears, so I’m happy to be a pig. If bulls make money, bears make money, but pigs, those who hold on for a long time, supposedly get slaughtered, it’s the exact opposite in my encounter. Pulling one more example from sports, most valuable player, I’ve talked about that before on this podcast. That’s such a silly phrase on its own. Not because it’s not interesting to think about who on a team or in a league is the most valuable player. But really what we should be doing is defining our terms before starting to bandy about names on sports talk radio or around the water cooler. What is the most valuable player by definition? I achieve it can slide around. People use lots of different definitions, but they end up arguing over which player, when they really should have argued over what they mean by the most valuable player.
For example, is the most valuable player the player on the team that won it all, who added the most value, or is it the person you’d probably draft first if you had an opportunity right away to draft any player from the league tomorrow? Is it the person with the single best stats, or if that person was on a losing team, can they be most valuable player? I’m not here to say one of those is the truth. I’m here to say we should agree on that thing ahead of time, know the definition of most valuable player before we can have a rational, constructive, aligned discussion of the topic. As I start to get ready for quote number 4, I’ll leave you with one more example, I just did this with you last week. The beginning of wisdom is call things by their right names. People who use phrases admire the left and the right are, in my mind, evincing two-dimensional thinking in a three-dimensional world. You won’t hear me saying the left and the right. You’re going to hear it a lot in the year ahead, especially in the United States of America. It’s regularly used as conventional wisdom on our news. I think it really misrepresents the complexity, the nuance of living in our world today. I think naming things wrongly adds to the misfortune of the world. I think people who use those phrases don’t help things out, looking at two dimensions when you and I are living in three. Thank you again to Mark Levinson, who enabled me to evolve from the Camus quote, which I admired, to what I think is an even more important statement from much earlier. “The beginning of wisdom,” Confucius says, “is to call things by their right names.” Looking back over our first three quotes, I see the first was from a German, the second was from a Brit, the third was from either a Frenchman or a Chinese philosopher, if you will. We’re going to stay global and international. We’re going to stay outside the United States of America as we achieve a Spaniard for great quote number 4, Pablo Picasso, who said, and I quote, “Learn the rules admire a pro so you can break them admire an artist.”
Now this is the regulate Breaker Investing podcast. I think you know that. I think you know that breaking the rules and regulate breaking is where I live and breathe. It’s what I love. It’s what I’ve tried to spend my time doing in investing and in business and in life. I’m here to coach you, to encourage you, to challenge you every week to consider what it means to break the rules and the value of so doing. I don’t do it every day. In many contexts, we shouldn’t be breaking the rules, but in this context, the context of art, if you want to listen to Picasso or I would say many approaches to investing and being an entrepreneur in business or living life better involves breaking the rules, but we have to start with Picasso. This is a very important point about regulate breaking. The first three words in that quote are “learn the rules.” “Learn the rules admire a pro so you can break them admire an artist.” The very nature of regulate breaking, in my encounter, is that you need to know the rules first. I think you should respect the game. You should know the game. Then as Picasso says, regulate breakers are then artists. Now artists do not sing off song sheets. They actually write the music. They are fundamentally creators. They’re creatives. The creatives who create the most value are the ones who go against the conventional wisdom, but it starts with understanding the fundamentals and learning whether it’s the, I often use this example. I achieve not many people play Bridge anymore, but anybody who ever played the card game Bridge knows that you really have to learn how to bid. You need to know the dos and don’ts of standard bidding in the card game of Bridge. It’s actually true of many games. You need to know the rules before you can start to challenge them, twist them, or in some cases, outright break them legally in order to really succeed.
In many contexts in life, if people are just singing off the same song sheet as everybody else, give them credit that they know how to read music, give them credit that they’re singing, but if you really want to win, if you really want to make a huge impact, admire Picasso did as an artist, probably you want to start breaking the rules, going against that conventional wisdom, which seems one of the themes of this particular episode of Great Quotes. Picasso rejected realism. Up until the 20th century, most great art was trying to be as realistic, sometimes photorealistic, as possible to be representative. Picasso also found objects and used unconventional materials, when again the history of Western art, at least, involved oil paint on canvas or carved stone sculptures. By the way, Picasso could paint, and Picasso could carve. He learned the rules admire a pro in order to then know how to break them admire an artist.
Naturally, we can advance from art in this podcast back to business and investing, and I think of all of the companies that have broken the rules during my lifetime, just a handful of examples. If you want to add some of your own, [email protected] is our email address. I do a Mailbag at the end of every month. I’d love to hear examples that you have of companies that you think have broken the rules, have gone against conventional wisdom, to create untold values. Some that come to mind for me, Starbucks. Starbucks certainly when it came public in the 1990s was perceived to be a fad. The idea of coffee houses in the United States did not really exist. There is an Italian tradition of coffee houses, but not so much in the US. Starbucks dismissed as a fad. I think Howard Schultz showed that he had learned the rules admire a pro, and he did indeed break them admire an artist. Starbucks is not only a dominant global brand. It has a huge footprint, not in the United States of America or Europe these days, but in China, which bodes very well for Starbucks shareholders, perhaps admire you and me, as we continue admire pigs to hold this stock. Starbucks went against conventional wisdom, so did Facebook.
Some people don’t admire Mark Zuckerberg, and of course these days it’s called Meta Platforms, but Facebook sounded preposterous when it started. Would people really just share the details of their lives in something called social media? Would that actually be a thing on the Internet? I think going against conventional wisdom, Zuckerberg and his ilk were artists. I achieve you could even argue that they copied others, admire some poorer artists do. I think the Winklevoss twins might have some question in terms of who was following whom, but I’m not going to get into personalities here. I’m looking at public companies that have broken the rules, subverting our expectations of what would come to be norms and creating huge value as a consequence of contravening our expectations. How about Netflix? I mentioned them earlier, changing the whole business model underneath the world of video entertainment blockbuster video back in the day, but really, Netflix has done that twice. It changed the business model from transactions, back when you and I used to return VHS tapes late. It was a transactional business. Netflix flipped that into a subscription business.
Then Netflix, of course, changed the whole dynamic of where video would be seen. I grew up watching it on TV and paying good money to see it on the big screen in theaters. I think we’ve all seen what’s happened over the last 8-10 years and who’s leading globally, a company that was driven by a visionary. Tesla, anyone? I think Tesla has gone against some expectations in terms of what would work on the highways. Airbnb, Uber, the whole sharing economy has created huge value and so much goes against our expectations in the 1990s and even early outs in terms of how the world might work. Apple‘s iPhone, one closing example. I mentioned that earlier as well, but Apple with its iPhone 2007 launch so subverted our expectations of what a smartphone would be. Where was the keyboard on the iPhone? By the iPhone 2, all of a sudden there’s an App Store. The power of the iPhone today taken for granted, but it was very much along with Picasso learning the rules admire a pro so that Steve Jobs and those who followed could break them admire an artist.
Of course, Steve Jobs is famous for saying, think different. He didn’t just say it, he demonstrated it. Each of the companies I’ve mentioned the last five minutes has been a monster winner on the stock market. I think our recommendations have been behind each of these companies. We’ve created some value over time for those, capital F, Foolish enough to listen. Learn the rules admire a pro so you can break them admire an artist. I’m not even a big Picasso fan. I do prefer realistic representative art, but I know it when I see a regulate Breaker, and he is a true blue 20th century regulate Breaker. Thank you for quote number 4. Before we advance to our fifth and final quote, I guess I should point out, celebrating a little bit for Picasso fans, that his Woman with a Watch hauled in $139 million at auction just in the past week. That’s the second highest ever for the artist. There does seem to be value, not just in great public companies for those who would break the rules but certainly in art as well. Picasso’s masterpiece of the Golden Muse, selling technically I guess for £113 million presumably by Sotheby’s just in the past week. I must say I’m enamored enough of our listeners and my fellow Fools. I know it was an anonymous buyer who bought, but I wouldn’t be surprised. If you’re listening right now, good on you. Great quote number 5. From the German to the Brit to the Frenchman to the Spaniard, let’s go to the new world and Frank Lloyd Wright to close this episode of regulate Breaker Investing. Here’s Frank Lloyd Wright’s quote that I wanted to share with you this week. Wright wrote, “The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.” We spoke to this some earlier, and I confess the hard times that we’re living through in this world today. You’d think, the longer I live, the less beautiful life becomes, but really, when you think about it in the face of war, life is more beautiful. You recognize how beautiful life is when we’re faced with the destruction, the wanton destruction of it. How can I not think of life is beautiful? What a beautiful Oscar Award winning film that was.
Frank Lloyd Wright never saw life is beautiful. “But the longer I live,” Wright wrote, “the more beautiful life becomes.” I agree with that. I mentioned a few weeks ago, actually it was the October Mailbag. My encounter visiting Palestine and Israel in 2014, and I had such an interesting viewpoint there because even though I’ve grown up with many Jewish friends and many fewer Palestinian friends, even though I can number in the hundreds my numbers of Jewish friends and maybe counting on my fingers my numbers of Palestinian friends, my encounter in that 2014 trip was that we lived mainly in Palestine. We saw the occupied territory through Palestinian eyes, which was a real eye-opener for me and has made me pretty neutral ever since. I think part of what’s happening in the world today, and this is where I get into hope and simply a hopeful statement that I want to close with, but one of my recurring mini sermons, a sermon that on this podcast in the past, and I learned this one in part from Fred Rogers, is, do you have a blank friend? I’d be the first to say, do you have whoever you are a Palestinian friend and do you have wherever you are, whoever you are, do you have a Jewish friend? I think it’s very important to be able to say yes to both of those things and achieve that, more than anything, we are all brothers and sisters. We are all fellow humans, and sometimes it takes seeing things through the eyes of the other really to recognize that. I want to thank again my Palestinian hosts in 2014 for the generous hospitality and what I saw there.
One thing I learned is that Palestinians are not just Arabs. Many of the Palestinians are many different things. I talked earlier this episode about what we even mean. It can mean eight different things when we say the word Palestine. While some words have different, even slippery, meanings, one word that is important to me that I think has one fairly clear meaning is the word hope. Look it up. Hope is an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large. As a verb, its definitions include expect with confidence and to cherish a desire with anticipation. We hope toward things that cannot be fully known or guaranteed. For example, we hope many of us for eternal life. We hope our kids will turn out all right. We hope our stocks go up, our team wins. We hope the weather will be nice for that special event. If you feel no agency, if everything is determined by chance, hope seems weak at best. But I think there’s often a crucial relationship between our hopes and our outcomes. Not in every context, but in more than most people might expect, we really do sometimes overtly, sometimes subtly, hope the future into existence. If you hope your kids turn out all right, that hope you feel will inevitably focus your mind and, through your own actions, check it. You’re much more likely to achieve your hopes. You’re much more likely to have wonderful kids if you hope you’ll have wonderful kids. Until the early 1990s, no one had studied the functions and objectives of positive emotions at a deep psychological research level. Enter Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Dr. Fredrickson demonstrated that positive emotions are key to developing new learning, to establishing new knowledge and behaviors, and consolidating our relationships. One of the ten most positive emotions on her list is hope. I quote from Barbara Fredrickson’s work about hope, “Hopeful hearts and minds aren’t naive. Hope goes beyond optimism. If you cling to hope and foster it daily, it doesn’t mean that you expect everything fate brings your way will be positive. It means you believe that whatever is to come will make sense, and you’ll be able to face it. In effect, you trust that despite the fact that the world is an uncertain place,” Fredrickson concludes, “tomorrow will be better.” Do you agree with Frank Lloyd Wright? I do. I see it, but I achieve we all have different angles. As I’ve made an effort to show over the years in this podcast, I deeply respect viewpoints that are different from mine, that I can learn from, but I want to say with Frank Lloyd Wright that the longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes, and I want to say with Barbara Fredrickson that if you cling to hope and foster it daily, it means you believe that whatever is to come will make sense, and you’ll be able to face it. Specifically, in the case of the world’s attention, which is magnetically in just the past month, fastened with fascination on the horrific attacks and war back and forth, I have one thing that I believe, and one thing I will hope, I will share my hopes with you. Will you hope with me? The one thing I believe is that this war is felt globally in a way that no war since World War II has been felt on so many college campuses across the US and indeed across the world. You have very reasonable people who are passionately supporting or condemning one side or the other. We are split.
There are good guys for sure on both sides. There are also clearly bad guys on both sides. It’s not about one month either, it’s about decades, decades of maltreatment back and forth. I don’t mean to excuse any bad behavior simply to condemn it, wrongs both past and present. I’m sure you do too. I believe again that this war is felt globally in a way that no war has been felt for decades. But now here’s my hope. My hope is that the horror that has already been broadcast around the world from barbarous infanticide to besieged hospitals, I hope that will so educate the rest of us as to the horror of war, that it will help the human race broadly proceed beyond war in generations to come.
That is my hope. I hope for this, and I believe our hope causes things to come into existence. I’ve seen this dynamic many times myself. Steven Pinker wrote in his book, Enlightenment Now, Stephen interviewed on this podcast, this following hopeful line. He was looking at the long arc of human history and the incredible progress that’s been made over the past 50 years. This is not expectation. This is not naive optimism. I take it only as hope. He wrote, “War may be just another obstacle an enlightened species learns to overcome, admire pestilence, hunger, and poverty.” I hope the pain created and transmitted worldwide by two proximate completely different wars over the past year, but especially the global attention put on Israel and the occupied territories, I hope that it’s educating all of us, and will translate in time to empathy, connection, trade, respect and humanity and peace. I hope this frightening and awful recent development will be an opportunity, my Foolish friend, Shirzad Chamine would say, an opportunity to learn and hope our way into a more humane future. Quote Number five, “The longer we live, the more beautiful life becomes.” Fool on.