Investing Unscripted Podcast 91: Chris Hill on Investing, Markets, and Podcasts

Learnings from a longtime markets observer

Investing Unscripted Podcast 91: Chris Hill on Investing, Markets, and Podcasts

Note: Transcripts are edited. We may earn commissions from some (not all) links. Thanks for the scratch.

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Jason Hall: Hey friends, welcome back to Investing [00:01:00] Unscripted, where we ask and answer the hard questions about investing. I'm Jason Hall, joined as we've discussed, not always Jeff Santoro, but almost always, The Voice of the People, Jeff Santoro.

Hey buddy. 

Jeff Santoro: Hey, how are you doing?

Jason Hall: I am very good. It is the heart of earnings season. My day job's keeping me awful busy. Have you gotten plugged back in? You were some time away there from the beginning of earnings season. You back? 

Jeff Santoro: Yes, I'm back. I've been paying attention and tracking the companies that I own as they report. So hopefully I'll bring a little more to the table today. 

Jason Hall: Awesome. Awesome. Well, we've got a great guest today, we'll introduce in just a second. You got some homework assignments for our listeners, I think. 

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That's the best and easiest way to support the show and to help more people find the show. So if you're listening and you're enjoying, and you feel so compelled, please do that. I will offer the opportunity to wait and hear [00:02:00] our special guest today, and maybe that will compel you to like and review the podcast. That would really super helpful for all of us.

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Jason Hall: All right, everybody. Welcome back from that brief commercial interlude. Time to introduce our special guest today. It's the one and only Chris Hill.

Chris, how are you, pal? 

Chris Hill: I'm doing well. It's great to be on the show. Thanks for having me, guys. 

Jason Hall: Yeah, we're really happy to have you on. So for those that don't know Chris Hill, which I think most of our listeners probably do, but for a generation of investors over a couple of decades, Chris, you're kind of the voice of the [00:04:00] markets, you and Kai Ryssdal. And yeah, maybe some people can't tell you apart. But seriously you're the voice of, you become, you were the voice of the individual investor, daily hosting podcasts for the Motley Fool. 

And you've taken about a year off or so. And besides reading a book, see what I did there. You read a book. 

Chris Hill: I see what you did there.

Jason Hall: We're excited to learn more about what you got going on next. But we want to talk about your time following the markets and give us some observations. 

Chris Hill: Where would you like to begin? 

Jeff Santoro: I was thinking about this as we were leading up to the show, and I don't know your backstory. As much as I've listened to you on Motley Fool Money for so many years before you stepped away.

I'm just curious, like how you got there. What were your ambitions when you were younger? Did you want to get into radio? Did you want to get into finance? Was it neither of those two things? I'm just curious to know what your origin story is and how you ended up being the voice of the individual investor, as Jason put it.

Chris Hill: So it's funny. I was just over the weekend, I got together with [00:05:00] some of my roommates from college. And these are guys I've known for, you know, 30 plus years. And a lot of them when we were in college, were studying finance and economics, and I was sort of off to the side. 

I was studying communications. That's really what my background is in. And that's how I got to the Motley Fool in 1997. I was first and foremost a communications person. I was the head of media and public relations and that sort of thing and did that for about a decade. 

But while I was there, one of the great things about the Motley Fool as a place to work is it's very much a place where learning is encouraged. It's not a place where it's like, here, just do this thing, stay in your lane and only do that. So, I got all this on the job education about the world of investing. I dabbled some in investing. But it was really the deep end of the pool and that was great. 

And so when the time came to launch a podcast or at [00:06:00] least attempt a podcast, because this was the very early days of podcasting, it was early 2009. We thought well, we'll just try this for a month and we'll see how this goes. And if it works, great. And if it doesn't work, then we'll just, we'll all go back to what we're doing for our regular job. 

Jason Hall: I think it went okay though, right? 

Chris Hill: It went okay. 

We kept it, it went okay for a month and we're like, let's do it for one more month. And we did it another month and we're like, okay, I think we can actually like keep doing this for a while, as long as people are listening. 

But no, so Jeff, my background's in communications. But when we were launching Motley Fool Money, it was not ever conceived as a show- there are a lot of shows out there that are very much built around the personality of the host and we knew that's not the show we're trying to build. We're trying to build a show where it's really featuring the analysts at the Motley Fool weighing in on what's happening in the world of investing. 

And so when you design a show like that, you just need a host who's essentially like, the sports analogy is a point guard in basketball. You just need someone who can [00:07:00] keep the conversation moving and distribute the ball and that sort of thing. And so we just sort of grew from there. 

And that's, over, I would say over the first two years, we were just doing Motley Fool Money. And then in early 2011, we launched Market Foolery, which was a daily show. Daily by daily, I mean Monday through Thursday and then on Fridays we would do Motley Fool Money.

And so once we were doing both those shows and I was hosting both of those shows, that was when it, the powers that be at the company were like, maybe you should just do this instead of trying to also do communication stuff. 

Jeff Santoro: Just one quick follow up because I've always wondered this. At what point… did the podcast come first and then it got syndicated as a radio show after? I'm just curious how that part worked out.

Chris Hill: It started as a podcast. And in fact it was born out of the beginnings of the great recession. It was late 2008. The Motley Fool had done a radio show in the past. It was starting in the late nineties on commercial radio. It was a weekly [00:08:00] call in show. Live, noon to three every Saturday. Was David and Tom Gardner hosting that show.

And then after three years, the show moved to NPR. And it was a one hour show, weekly and it was recorded during the week. And then we shut that down in early 2006.

And so at the Motley Fool, like pretty much every business in America in late 2008, you know, things were getting kind of grim. And my boss at the time said, I just came from an executive meeting and one of the things that was one of the ideas that was thrown out there was radio. Should we try and do a radio show again? What do you think? And I was like let me think on this, and I'll write something up for you, and that way you can just share it with people.

And I ended up writing a five page memo. Much longer than I meant it to be. But it essentially boiled down to, hey, if we're ever going to do radio again, we should do a podcast. It's this new, form of media, but we should try this. [00:09:00] And the thing about podcasting is you don't have to deal with so many of the things that you have to deal with commercial radio.

You don't have to deal with stations or advertisers. You don't even have to make sure that the show is the same length every time you do it. 

And Motley Fool Money was sort of born out of that. Like, all right, let's just try this podcast thing and see where it goes. And then a year later, we, it ended up being the first podcast to jump to commercial radio. 

Jason Hall: I think one of the cool things to me about podcasting and an organization like the Motley Fool is you started out with a platform. And so all of the benefits of terrestrial radio and those linear types of broadcasts sort of goes away because you bring a platform with you. And listeners come with you and you don't have to deal with all of the nonsense that you have to, to get access to distribution. So it's a pretty, pretty nice little, trick to have, to having a successful podcast.

 One of the things I want to talk about and we're going to, I'm going to circle back around to, the timing of when the podcast was started. [00:10:00] Catching lightning in a bottle with everything, with the financial crisis that was happening, people looking for the calm reasoned explanation of what was going on, that I think it's been just a really core value of Motley Fool Money. All of the podcasts under the Motley Fool brand.

That corresponded to Morgan Housel joining the Fool as a writer and kind of being that same voice of reason. But before we talk about Morgan and your relationship there, I want to, Chris, maybe this was just going to make you feel old. 

But you started with your pulse on the markets in the late nineties, really the last few years of the dot com boom, the bust, 9-11, the recession that happened there, the crash of the market, the run up through 2007, a lot of it driven by housing, unsustainable stuff in the economy. The biggest recession, hopefully anybody listening to this will ever have to live through. Certainly the biggest one in eight decades. And then the wall of worry that we climbed the decade plus [00:11:00] that was one of the best decade pluses in 70 or 80 years, the pandemic, the bubble after that, that we saw the crash of, tech 2. 0, you could almost say. All of those things. 

One could say you've seen some stuff. And I would love to hear some of your thoughts across all of those things. You can wax poetic. You're a pro. You've done this before. 

Chris Hill: You know, one thing about certainly the, as you said, Jason, you look over that time frame, there's a lot of great stuff for investors. And if you're a long term investor and you've got the stomach for it, then you realize that it pays to be invested in the market that whole time, even during the down times, rather than trying to time it.

But let me just focus on the bad stuff for a second. Yes I've given my age and it's not just this, it's not just what you said that makes me feel old. At my age, Jason, pretty much everything makes me feel old.

But I think that for me, and I think for a lot of people, I don't think I'm [00:12:00] unique in this regard. I think for a lot of people, when you're investing, when something bad is going on It always feels bad. In the moment. It's like, my years of experience have not made me immune to something like 2022. Just to pick a very recent example, just the worst year we had had for the market and I think 15 years maybe, or, we're close to it, something like that. It would certainly over a decade. 

And so-

Jason Hall: Yeah you've got to get back to the financial crisis to have a full calendar year that was that bad. 

Chris Hill: So for anyone out there who's thinking like, well, when you know, when I get to be old like Chris then I'll be, it's like, no, it still hurts. It's still painful.

I think, however, one of the benefits is you start to recognize the patterns. You start to connect dots, even though you know what causes one. Market drop versus another can be a very different thing. 9-11 is very different from the pandemic, [00:13:00] which is very different from the great recession. But you start to recognize signposts along the way.

To go back to 2022 for a second. I remember very clearly, obviously we're coming off of 2021, a really good year. And it's been a good ride, but we go into that earning season, which was two years ago, about this time we go into that earning season on Motley Fool Money, knowing like, all right, some things are going to pull back here. For sure.

The one that struck me was NVIDIA because there were a lot of companies coming out with earnings reports in early 2022 that it was essentially, this is a good report, but it's not a great report. Or it's a, it's a great report, but it's not perfect. The guidance is good, but it's not amazing. And so the stock sells off. 

NVIDIA came out in early 2022 with a fantastic quarterly report. Phenomenal guidance. And the stock, I believe, dropped 9 percent that day. And when that [00:14:00] happened, because of my experience as an investor, I remember, and I'm pretty sure I said this on Motley Fool Money. I know I said it around the office and talking to the other people on the investing team, people like Jason Moser and Bill Mann saying, oh this is bad.

This is this is going to be a bad six months. And this may in fact be just a flat out bad year. Everybody buckle up. Cause this, cause if a company as great as Nvidia can do what they just did and offer a projection like they just offered and the stock gets whacked like that, we are all in for a rough ride.

So that's one thought just, the pain is there. And the experience that you get as an investor year after year, again, it doesn't make you immune. Or it doesn't make me immune. But having been through the darkness of those times-

Jason Hall: You want the pain to stop.

Chris Hill: You want it to stop. And in my experience, you get to a point where you [00:15:00] think, okay you're no longer, you're no longer panicking. You're no longer just what do I do now? It's a little bit more like, okay, when do I think this is going to stop? And what am I going to do differently?

I think your ability to think more clearly, that does improve with age. Because, in the fall of 2008, that was a really tough time to think clearly. Just because it was, wait, is our entire economy going to crash? It wasn't just, hey, these stocks are overvalued and so we're going to sell off these tech stocks in the second half of 2000 and all through 2001. 

It wasn't that. As you guys know, it was, wow our economy might crash completely. So that's the bad stuff. 

The good stuff, the good stuff wipes away so much of the bad stuff. It's why you have a diversified portfolio because you can look at the losers in your [00:16:00] portfolio and think, I'm not happy they're there. But I've got enough stocks that over time make these less and less relevant to me as an investor. 

When I think back on, you mentioned, Jason really, some of the most noteworthy events in investing this century. Let me throw out two more that you didn't mention.

One was the quote unquote flash crash of 2010. And the other was the Greek debt crisis. I don't know if you guys remember, but there was about a three month stretch there in the early 2010s where all we did in the financial 

Jason Hall: media-

The PIIGS, that was the buzzword and was obsess. Are they gonna survive? Are they gonna stay in the eu? All of those things. It was brutal. 

Chris Hill: And I look back on both of those. And I think, boy, that really turned out to be a whole lot of nothing, didn't it? And I'm not to, not to say that, there weren't serious conversations to be had about, well, does Greece become the [00:17:00] first domino to fall in the EU? And then if that affects the EU, how does it like, okay, let's have that conversation. 

But I look back on that and think, boy, that was a lot of time we spent obsessing over Greece. And that turned out to be time we probably could have spent doing something else.

Jeff Santoro: It's funny you mentioned how the good makes you forget the bad. Because, my frame of reference for all these events is different than I think both of you, I'm old enough to remember all of those things. And I was investing through retirement accounts through those things. 

And but I've said before, my experience of the great financial crisis was the news, and getting my quarterly statement for my retirement account. I wasn't buying individual stocks. I wasn't checking my brokerage. And also I was a little bit less removed from that level of fear that I'm sure you guys were more, tuned into. 

But just in the short experience of the last four or five years, I'm glad we have a podcast. And maybe you felt this way to Chris about having your Motley Fool Money. Because if I wasn't saying out loud to Jason on a weekly basis, how [00:18:00] I'm feeling about the market, I would absolutely forget how distraught I was at certain points in 2022. I think we even did an episode called, I don't know how to invest anymore

And that seems like 10 years ago now, even though it was probably less than a year ago. It's just, it's wild how quickly you can forget after just a couple really good months in the market.

Chris Hill: Oh, no, it's like in sports when they say winning cures everything. And you're right about that, Jeff. I, I think it's why podcasts like yours resonate with people. Because as you guys know, investing is largely a solo endeavor. 

Everybody listening right now, they're probably the only person in their family who's interested in stocks to the degree that they are. They're probably the only person in their immediate circle of friends who's interested in investing in the way that they are. For so many people out there, it's either something they're afraid to do, or they have someone else take care of [00:19:00] it for them.

And because of that, look, when times are great, it'd be nice to have someone to celebrate with. I'm a big believer in that, when you have people, whether it's family or friends it makes your wins even sweeter. And it helps to take away some of the pain of losing. 

But really I think it's when times are tough, that investors can feel flat out lonely. And then, the more negative thoughts come in in terms of fear. Like, wait, am I doing this right? Am I like, should I be doing something? Am I supposed to be doing something right now? Should I, should I be transacting? Should I be rotating out of these stocks? 

And you don't have to look far to find people in the financial media who are more than willing to tell you what you should be doing right now.

But again, I think that's why shows like yours really connect with people. Because it's like, no, wait let's just everybody try and take a breath. Let's talk about this. Let's let's see if we can't figure this out together. 

Jeff Santoro: Yeah. It's like when times are good, it's nice [00:20:00] to have people to talk to you about it. And when times are bad, you need to have people to talk to you about it. 

Chris Hill: Yeah. And even, you know, and again, it's... podcasting is a one way communication device. The the audience is really just listening in on the conversation that we're having. But most times that's enough.

Jeff Santoro: Speaking of listening in on the conversations we're having, one of the things that I would imagine was one of the coolest parts about doing Motley Fool Money for as long as you did, Chris, is you got to interview some really great and interesting people in the world of investing and finance. 

I'm not going to ask you to name your favorite guests, cause that's probably either too hard or you don't want to be rude to someone you don't name. But I'm curious if you had any, if there are any common traits or through lines with the guests that stick out to you and are memorable that make them memorable. 

Chris Hill: Yeah, it is a little bit like, asking someone like which one is your favorite kid? Which of your children is your favorite? I did get to interview a lot of people. And It was a joy to get to interview some people several times. In some cases, even once or [00:21:00] twice a year. People like Becky Quick and Carl Cantania from CNBC. Dan Pink bestselling author who's local to the D. C. area. And Dan is someone that I also got the chance to interview in person a few times. Just a fantastic thinker and person. Michael Lewis as well, Charles Duhigg. 

These are all, everybody I named is smart. They are curious. They are people who ask questions either for a living on a daily basis, in the case of the CNBC hosts. Or just in their general line of work. And they are trying to make sense of the world or some part of the world.

And those people are always great to talk to. Because there's an element to interviewing that just comes down to math. How long am I interviewing this person for? Okay, therefore, how many questions do I need to prepare? That sort of thing. And for me really fun [00:22:00] interview for me personally, but also good for the audience to listen to, is one that's like a great tennis match.

There's just a lot of back and forth. You can go in different directions, and you know that this person is smart, and anything I ask them, they're going to have an answer for. There's not going to be an out of the blue sort of, there was never any sort of like, well, you can't ask this. It's not like Hollywood where it's like, all right, you can interview this person, but you can't ask about these five topics. It's like, what? 

New people were always interesting just because it's someone new, let's see how this goes, but. Anytime I knew I was going to be talking to someone like Becky or Carl or Michael Lewis or Dan, that was just you know, that, that wasn't work. That was fun. 

Jeff Santoro: More than a couple interviews that we've been able to do over the past year and a half, it is interesting to get to know people. And the ones that are the most fun, at least for us, I think, are the ones that are back and forth and just casual conversations. Less than it feels like that more than like an interview, in the ask question, get an answer kind of sense.

I'm curious if there's anyone you [00:23:00] wish you could have interviewed or tried to get an interview with but just never could. 

Chris Hill: Okay, so one, one that comes to mind is, I think this was 2015, when the movie The Big Short came out. We tried to get Adam McKay, the director of The Big Short. For those unfamiliar, although I'm sure most people listening are familiar with The Big Short, the best selling book by Michael Lewis, which is an amazing book. And then turned into this, you know, Oscar nominated movie. 

And I remember when Adam, and I'm a big fan of movies. And I remember when Adam McKay was named, they're making the big short into a movie and Adam McKay is going to direct it. And for context, at that point, Adam McKay was best known for directing things like Anchorman and Talladega Nights, like these, you know, broad, successful comedies.

I'm like, wait- 

Jason Hall: What the hell is that guy doing making that book into that movie? 

Chris Hill: Right. And then I interviewed a couple of times a year, I would interview Nell [00:24:00] Minow, who's an expert in corporate governance and also a film critic. And I remember asking her, I think I had interviewed her shortly after that news was public that Adam McKay was going to direct it. So this is before 2015. 

And I said, what do you think of this? Is this surprising? And she pointed out something that I had forgotten, which is he had directed this cop movie called The Other Guys with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. Action comedy. And she pointed out that, you know, Adam McKay directed that movie, and wrote it. 

And the closing credits, she's like, do you remember the closing credits of that movie? And I was like, Oh my God, that's right. The closing credits of this action comedy, The Other Guys. In addition to like, here's who played who in the movie, Adam McCay and his team decided, well, we're going to, he was clearly angry about the financial crisis. And so the closing credits of that movie are all these infographics explaining what a Ponzi scheme is and how what Bernie Madoff did is so much worse than what Charles [00:25:00] Ponzi, you know, the creator of the Ponzi scheme, did. You know, just sort of all this stuff.

And so by the time the movie came out, I was just so fired up, like, for the, I was like, okay, I think this movie is going to be good. We tried really hard to get Adam McKay and they were like, no, not a chance. 

But that was one where I just thought like, oh that'd be really fun. Because he clearly has a lot to say. And this is even before the movie had come out. But it just kind of looked like you could just tell from the preview of the movie, like, oh, this looks like it's going to be really, really good. And it's, you know, it's a movie I watch at least once a year.

So yeah. If Adam McKay is out there listening, I would love to interview him. You know, I'll create a podcast just so I can interview Adam McKay. 

Jeff Santoro: I'm pretty sure he's a listener. I live, he's a listener, I'm pretty sure. Sure.

Jason Hall: I'm sure. But if he's not I lived in Southern California for 15 years and now I live in Massachusetts. He's from Massachusetts, I believe. I know he's from the Northeast and he's still making movies. So I lived in, close to Hollywood. So I can make this happen, Chris. 

Chris Hill: All right. Perfect. [00:26:00] Perfect. I knew you were the man, Jason. Yeah. Yeah. 

Jason Hall: I'm here for you, buddy. Let's circle back around, Chris.

I teased it a little bit before with Morgan Housel. Again, anybody listening this I'm sure knows Morgan, whether you know Morgan from The Psychology of Money, bestselling book. And more recently, I believe it's also been a bestseller already. And that's the wonderful collection of these little short snippet stories, Same as Ever. Of course, Chris, you did the audio book for both of those. 

Morgan's background for a lot of people that don't know, I believe he started as a contract writer at the Motley Fool about the time of the beginning stages of the global financial crisis, 2006, 2007, somewhere around there. And during his time, his insight and wit and his ability to communicate as a writer became apparent at the perfect time where millions of people needed that voice of reason. To be able to read and understand the things that were going on in the [00:27:00] market in really simple terms. 

Same time that Chris you were running communications for The Fool and started Motley Fool Money. So I'm curious to hear more of your, maybe some of your relationship with Morgan, watching him, and how you came to be the voice of his books. 

Chris Hill: So Morgan and I met in 2008. I believe that's when he started contract writing. He was on the west coast and Southern California. Yeah, and at some point pretty soon 

Jason Hall: Probably knew each other, you know.

Chris Hill: Oh, yeah. I mean Southern California is not that big right? 

Jason Hall: No, it's not. 

Jeff Santoro: You Morgan and Adam McKay? 

Jason Hall: Right, right, right. 

Chris Hill: Got the USC connection.

So he moved to Alexandria, Virginia, which is where I live and where the Motley Fool's headquarters is located. I would see him in the office, we would, you know, get coffee every once in a while, that sort of thing. And then I got to know him from him coming on the podcast.

Sometimes at events for Motley Fool members. You know, we would be [00:28:00] at events together. And over time, as you indicated, Jason, it was clear. He's a very different kind of writer. And he's writing about things that are in some ways, universal. And-

Jason Hall: Well, he's a different kind of thinker. I think we have to start there first. 

Chris Hill: Yeah. Just writes broadly about human behavior and psychology and its intersection with money. It's not, here's why I think Apple is overvalued. Or even just here's why I'm a value investor, you know, that sort of thing.

It's really more about sort of these common threads in human behavior and psychology. And as you indicated with this most recent book, Same as Ever, how that plays out in history time and time again.

I think it was somewhere around maybe 2016 or so, I was one of several people in his life asking him, have you thought about writing a book? And then eventually [00:29:00] it got to, okay, when are you going to write a book?

Which by the way, is easy for me to say. I'm not the one writing the book. But I'm happy to like, you know, people I know who I think are really good writers, and just be like, I think you should undertake this very difficult, I think you should jump into this. 

Jeff Santoro: I will watch. 

Chris Hill: Yeah. And I'll buy you coffee every once in a while, and you know, the occasional bourbon. But I really think you should go do that. 

No, but it, but I really was someone who was encouraging him to do this. And then once he started the process of doing that I was both surprised and unsurprised by the reaction of the the publishing world at large. 

I was surprised because Morgan is such a good writer and also has this track record of all these publicly available articles he's written, at the same time that he is building up an increasingly large presence on Twitter and getting a huge following on Twitter. And I just thought this seems like a pretty easy decision by some publisher in New York City. [00:30:00] 

And but I was unsurprised because in my early days of doing communications work at the Motley Fool, David and Tom Gardner were writing books. And so I had interactions with publishers. And I got to learn about the book publishing world. And it's one of the more strange and mysterious industries in all of media, as far as I'm concerned. 

I remember one time we were having coffee. We were at the Starbucks that is closest to the Motley Fool headquarters. We were sitting outside. And he was sort of listing off these different roadblocks that he was running into as he was putting together this idea for a book. 

And one of the ones that he listed was, it seems like audio books are growing and I'm not going to do the audio book. So like that, you know, it was almost like he was trying to talk himself out of it. Here's a list of reasons why I won't be writing a book. 

And when he said that, I just leaned over the table. I said, don't worry about the audio book. I'll do it. I'll do the audio book. Don't worry about it. Let's, you know, let's get back to figuring out how you're [00:31:00] going to make this work. I said that having never narrated an audio book. And with, you know, just blind ignorance, you know.

Cut to four years later, it's early 2020. Morgan is still living in Alexandria. He calls me on the phone and says, what's your address? I need to drop off an advanced copy of The Psychology of Money so you can start practicing. 

And when he said that, I just felt that horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach where it's like your heart just drops. 

Jeff Santoro: That's the karma for pushing him to write the book. 

Chris Hill: Right. And I just, I knew intellectually that he had found a publisher to work with. And this was on track. And this was going to happen. And yet when he said that to me, my, literally, my gut reaction was one of just fear and panic. And I just thought, oh my God, this, what, now what?

Now what happens? 

Jason Hall: What have I done? 

Chris Hill: Yes, what have I done to myself? And I literally Googled how do you narrate an audio book? And found all these [00:32:00] articles and all these different strategies and that sort of thing. 

And then he dropped off the book and I started to read it and I got about a quarter of the way through the book and I just thought to myself, oh my God, this book is really good. I can't screw this up. I like, .- 

Jason Hall: Put more pressure on yourself. 

Chris Hill: Yeah. And I just thought, I got to make this work. Cause this is like, this is too good a book, and I can't blow this. And so I put a lot of time in practicing too uh, uh, before I went into the studio. But that's really, that's really how sort of that whole thing started. And I think, and he and I have talked about this.

Part of it for him is, I think what, I have other friends who have written books and have gone through the process of selecting someone to narrate their book. And they've said things similar to what Morgan said, which is essentially, well, I'm good with this person's voice and I trust that they're going to do a good job.

And I think that if you write a book and you're [00:33:00] outsourcing the narration of it, you want to have that level of confidence that like, I don't think this person's going to screw this up.

Now what I just told you guys, I told him well after the book had been published. 

Jason Hall: Oh, obviously. 

Jeff Santoro: Yeah. You hold that off till later. 

Chris Hill: Absolutely. Yeah. Like I wasn't going to call, like when he dropped off the book, I wasn't going to be like, hey man I just said that to encourage you. I've never done this before. 

And so, um, you know, that's, you know, and it, it, It went well enough that when book number two came out, he was like, hey let's give this another shot. 

Jason Hall: Well, you've done it once. You could do it again. That's the thing. 

Chris Hill: Well, yeah, that was my thought.

In fact, I did say to him, I remember after I had recorded the first one, but before it had come out, I remember I said to him, I said, look, I did the best I could. And I promise if you write another book, I'll do a better job with the second one. 

Jason Hall: You keep setting yourself up for these Chris,.

Chris Hill: No, but you know, again I had never, I'd never gone through the process before. A friend of [00:34:00] mine asked me recently, like, is narrating an audio book fun? And I said, no, it's not fun. It's work. 

Jeff Santoro: The idea of it is fun. 

Chris Hill: Being done with it is fun. There's a feeling of accomplishment when it's all over. But it's hours and hours and hours of work.

Jason Hall: A couple of observations about this story, Chris, that I just think are wonderful. 

First thing, you're a pro. You spent a decade and a half, every day, reviewing material, being involved in the creating process of every show that you were a part of. And reading those words. And reading those words to be recorded, and then edited, and then sent out for consumption. Every single day, right? 

And yet you went through this massive imposter syndrome, right? When the reality of I've got to do this thing, that even though it was a few degrees different, right? And I'm, I've never done read an audio book, so it's probably more than just a few degrees different. But it is a similar thing to what you have built your professional [00:35:00] life around, right? Reading words out loud for people to consume. 

And then you went through that, and now this is the part where I get to project a little bit. 

Where the second book, you probably went into it so damn overconfident you screwed up a few things and like you had to go like, you know what? I got to back this up. Come on, Hill. Let's get this together and let's do this right. So. 

Chris Hill: The second one, I, you know, the first time I didn't know what I didn't know. And the second time around, I thought, okay, I know what I need to do here.

The timeframe was a little bit more compressed for the second one. So that's, there in lay the challenge. And also the pronunciation of names. For any aspiring audio book narrators out there, I will just say that YouTube is an invaluable resource when it comes to trying to figure out how names should be pronounced.

Jeff Santoro: That's my personal, like, fear in life is mispronouncing someone's name. So I would have so much anxiety about that if I were reading a book.

Chris, I believe you stepped away from Motley Fool Money almost a year ago, like, last spring, if I'm [00:36:00] remembering correctly? 

Chris Hill: End of May of last year.

Jeff Santoro: End of May, okay. So not quite a year. But I remember hearing you say on the podcast many times, usually around holidays and maybe time when you had taken off, that you can go on vacation, but you're unable to turn off your investor brain. 

So I'm imagining you've been paying close attention to the market over the past several months that you've not been on the air on a daily basis, and noticing things and seeing what's going on. We talked about your reflections on the past. But I'm curious in this time you haven't had a chance to get your thoughts out every single day.

What have you seen? What have you noticed? Where do you think the market is now? And has it been hard? Has it been difficult to have ideas and thoughts and opinions and not have a place to go say them out loud?

Chris Hill: When Charlie Munger passed away, I remember thinking, boy, I would love to be in the studio and talk to people about this. Because Munger is an absolute legend, and someone who, I remember, you know, Munger has [00:37:00] all these quotes. And I remember he said one one time and I thought, I think that is my investing philosophy. 

Someone asked him, what kind of research do you do and how do you, you know, and what's your, strategy. And he said, I like to buy great companies and sit on my ass. 

And of course, what he was saying is like, I want to do all the research up front. And then I want to feel good about the decision. And then I don't want to be watching this. I don't want to be looking over the shoulder of management every day. And I thought that is my guy. 

So when Munger passed away I was missing being in the studio. What I'm seeing now because I do still- 

Jason Hall: Chris, I'm going to cut you off. Warren Buffett is not going to live forever, right? We're going to hope that he does. But I want to extend an open invitation to come on Investing Unscripted so we can properly eulogize, I want to be sure you can stretch that muscle, you know, scratch that itch. We're here for you, Chris. 

Chris Hill: I appreciate that. I mean, let's just stick with that for a second. Do you think it's going to be like the Pope? Do you think he's going to [00:38:00] die in office or do you think, or do you think Buffett's going to say, I'm stepping down.

Because I think he's going to step down. 

Jason Hall: Yeah. I mean, go ahead, Jeff 

Jeff Santoro: I go back and forth about this. I one thing we talked about recently, Chris, is that I think they're going to have to do the meeting differently this year.

Because how do you how does anyone sit next to him and do the same format? It's impossible. And that when I think more about that, I do wonder if he does this year's meeting. And then at some point after that says, like, you know what, I'm good. So I, but on the other hand, I, you know, I read his the biography that Is it Richard Loewenstein?

I know the last name's Loewenstein, I think. 

Jason Hall: Roger. 

Jeff Santoro: Roger Loewenstein, thank you. I read his biography of Buffett, and the reason I think he might not, is the dude is like a maniac when it comes to his love for doing this. 

Jason Hall: It's what he does. 

Jeff Santoro: Yeah, so like that's where I struggle with it, but I think I would lean towards yeah, he'll probably step down and not die in office like the Pope.

Jason Hall: I think he's going to work until he's physically unable to, I really do. Again because that number [00:39:00] one that everything's already in place. And my guess is that Greg Abel is probably being compensated plenty well enough in his current role as, you know, named replacement. 

So I think that's again, this is, I think Chris, one of the really interesting things to me about the difference between Charlie Munger and Warren Buffett is that Charlie Munger, I think, has lived a far more interesting life. He pursued so many interests and he threw himself into so many other things that he was interested in, while Charlie just spent all of his waking time either playing bridge or reading filings, right? That's basically all- 

Jeff Santoro: Warren did. Warren. Not Charlie. Yeah. 

Jason Hall: Or that Warren. Yeah. That's all the, that's all Warren Buffett has done. And I think, I can't remember who it was that said it. One of the Chit Chat Money guys made the comment that Charlie's probably the best investor of all time because he was smart enough to give his money to Warren, you know? 

So anyway, that's, yeah that's my thoughts on that.

Chris Hill: Let me go back to the market. And sort of what I've been seeing, [00:40:00] and I've really been seeing it over the last couple of months, and I've said many times on Motley Fool Money, I don't begrudge people who write headlines for a living, you know. I, that's the business they're in, so I don't begrudge those people.

But I'm really starting to be done with the commentators who are calling the end of a stock, the end of a company, and it basically the end of a run. And I've seen this recently with Apple and Alphabet and just being like, I think, you know, I think it's over the good time, basically, the good times are over. It's time to sell out of this. The good times are over. 

Right before they recently reported earnings and the stock shot to the moon. I saw someone saying it about Meta Platforms. And to me, the lesson for investors is there's always going to be, there's always going to be that noise. And you just, you really have to almost like if you're watching a movie and there's a trial. [00:41:00] And the judge gives instructions to the jury and it's like, you will disregard what that attorney just said, you know, that kind of thing.

Like if I could wave a magic wand. Those particular type of pronouncements, which is like, to me they're empty calories. They add no value, you know.

If you want to have a serious conversation about the state of Alphabet's business. Great. Let's do that. But just sort of these blanket statements of like, I think this is over. It's like, really? 

Jason Hall: Well, Chris, when, if it bleeds, it reads right. It's, I think it's a psychological version of that for investing where you have these binary outcome headlines that incite FUD fear, uncertainty, and doubt, to bring eyeballs in.

We did a, one of our shows we did about a year ago was, or essentially was whether or not your goals and incentives actually align. And I've talked consistently about how important incentives are. And if you want to understand why a seemingly reasonable person did something unreasonable, and I think those headlines are unreasonable, understand how they're compensated. And it's probably going to [00:42:00] describe it. And if you understand how they're compensated, it's going to affect how you choose to respond to it. 

Chris Hill: Absolutely. 

Jason Hall: Simple, but it ain't easy.

Chris Hill: No, it's not. And I think it, you know, to go back to what we were talking about earlier. I mean, I think that's part of the challenge when times, you know, when we're going through a year like 2022, or the Great Recession, doubling like that. Where it's just like, wow, no matter what happens, the market is taking a beating. And that, it has a negative compounding effect.

So times like that, you know, it's a little bit easier to say, well, just ignore that stuff. Because, times are generally good in the market, certainly the run it's been on lately. I fully recognize that if this were 2022, it's a lot harder to ignore something like that.

Or at least it's a lot harder to not have it affect your mood.

Jason Hall: So I want to take the conversation a little bit of a different direction here in our last few minutes before we talk about what's next for Chris Hill. 

One of the things that we love to talk about are the [00:43:00] mistakes that we've made. I think it's one of the most healthy things you can do as an investor, taking Warren Buffett is an example. Always highlights things he did wrong more than things that he's done right, and I think it's really useful. 

But I want to take a little bit different approach with you with that, Chris. I think we take it for granted when we're surrounded by great, knowledgeable investors. Like Jeff and I with the show, we have access to a ton of smart people. When you were doing Motley Fool Money, the collection of analysts and advisors in that building, some of the best in the world.

My question for you in terms of mistakes. Along the way, you probably saw lots of opportunities that you were able to seize. The Qwikster debacle with Netflix creating opportunity to buy a great business at a super discount. Investing early in a company like Shopify because Jim Gillies was saying, hey, there's this little Canadian company that's going to be gigantic, like stuff like that happened along the way. 

What I'm curious about, is along the way, is there a distinct [00:44:00] opportunity that you just missed? It was one that was maybe not completely obvious at the time, but it's certainly obvious in hindsight, that there was an opportunity out there that would have created more wealth for you and your family, and you just sat on your hands too soon? 

Chris Hill: There are plenty. One that, that comes to mind doesn't really fit the description you're talking about in terms of like, seminal event with a stock creating an opportunity to buy a great company at a lower price. It was just a conversation. One of the first deep conversations I remember having with Bill Mann from the Motley Fool, and Bill started working at the Motley Fool about a year after I did. 

So this was probably 1999 or 2000 when we had this conversation. And like a lot of our conversations we were getting coffee at the time. We were standing at the Starbucks close to what used to be a Motley Fool headquarters here in Alexandria. And we were talking about stocks and he started talking about Costco.[00:45:00] 

I had been to a Costco once in my life. But I was not a member of it. And I said, what do you like about that business? And, there are times when Bill, like any person, gets very excited . This was not one of those times. This was a very measured, reasoned response, sort of laying out, Bill sort of laying out the business of Costco, the market opportunity he saw for the business, what he loved about the membership model.

I think he talked a little bit about Jim Sinegal the former founder and CEO. And everything, and I mean everything, Jason, everything he said made perfect sense to me. And I mean, not only did I understand it, but it also, it was a business that I could comprehend. 

You know, there are plenty of businesses and industries out there I don't invest in because if I don't understand a business- and experience tells me this. If I own shares of a company and I don't know really what they do, I will lose sleep. Whether the stock is [00:46:00] going up or down, I will lose sleep. So I don't do that.

I fully understood everything he said about Costco's business. And I would say 20 years passed before I bought shares of Costco. Now my shares of Costco are doing fine. They've been doing fine since I bought them- 

Jeff Santoro: They would have been finer 20 years earlier. 

Chris Hill: But for whatever reason, I just thought, wow, that sounds like a great, and again he was, you know, he wasn't like pulling me close and just being like, you gotta buy this stock.

He was just saying, no, here's why I love it. And it was just, it was the most reasonable conversation. It all made perfect sense. And I didn't, and you know, when I think about like, okay, what could I have done differently? And what would I do now in that situation? What I have done since is one of the ways I've involved as evolved as an investor is I will buy small portions.

You know, I don't transact all that often. And when I do, I tend to transact sort of chunks at a time, saying, okay, [00:47:00] I've got this chunk of money. These are the four stocks. I'm going to buy, I'm going to buy equal, you know, 25%. I'm going to divide my money that way evenly among the four stocks. If we were having that conversation today, I would take just a little bit of money and just buy a few shares just to, just, you know, to get my foot in the door.

And I've done that since then with a couple of businesses here and there, but that is the, you know, in terms of like, what's the hot stock tip that I could have bought in 20 years before I did, is Costco. 

Jason Hall: So Chris we've had Bill Mann on the show. I'll put the link in the transcript. Anybody that doesn't get our transcripts InvestingUnscripted.com. Sign up, we'll email it to you the day that the show comes out. It was episode 70 called Bill Mann, International Man of Weirdness. He's got some serious chops as an investor. 

But Chris, I'm going to blame Bill for this. I'm going to blame Bill because Bill should have grabbed you by the collar, pulled you close and said, Just buy the damn stock, Chris. That's what should have happened. So it's really the lesson is do better, Bill Mann. 

Jeff Santoro: We should blame [00:48:00] Bill for two reasons. He's not here.

Chris Hill: Right. 

Jeff Santoro: And he's not going to listen to this.

Jason Hall: There you go. I'm sending this to him. 

Chris Hill: I love this. I love this plan. 10 out of 10. No notes. 

Jeff Santoro: Love it. To wrap up, Chris I'm sure you did not, or you don't seem like the kind of person who stepped away from doing Motley Fool Money to sit on your hands for the rest of your life. So I'm curious, and I'm sure the listeners are curious too what is next for you?

What, do you have anything in the works? Are we gonna, are we gonna have the pleasure of hearing you on the air at some other format at some point in the future? What do you got going on? I

Chris Hill: hope you're going to. I've sort of, settled into doing a few projects here and there. Actually, I was with Bill Mann last November in in Ireland at the My Wall Street member event. 

Jason Hall: Great guys, by the way. 

Chris Hill: Emmett Savage in that team. That was great. And they, and Emmett had contacted me over the summer and and said, hey, we're having this event. 

And he had been at Motley Fool events before where I had helped to MC and moderate panel conversations and interview people on stage, that [00:49:00] sort of thing. So, I had the chance to do that. It was a lot of fun. 

I'm talking to a couple of different organizations about a similar role at events. Sort of business and investing events coming up over the next, call it six months or so. 

I have started working on an idea for a new podcast. I. I can't really tell you anything more about it other than it would be in the business category. I've started to have conversations with a couple of different podcast networks about potential partnership with them. Because selfishly, I don't want to do everything myself.

Jason Hall: It's so awesome having somebody behind the glass, right Chris? 

Chris Hill: Yeah, yeah, I would like to, I'd like to have, you know, like-

Jeff Santoro: As two people who do everything themselves. We understand. 

Chris Hill: Yes. You guys know. But it's, we'll see.

It's an idea that I've been working on for a few months. I'm hoping to pitch it, by, call it early March. And hopefully someone will say, yeah, we'll take a chance on that. [00:50:00] It's. It's something that doesn't really exist as far as I can tell as a show out there in the business category at the moment. 

And there's a good chance the reason it doesn't exist is because it's not a great idea. Like there's a real, like I've talked about this with a couple of people who I have great respect for. And when I've explained it to them and I've said, you know, this might not work. And they're like, yeah, it might not. But I'm not going to let that stop me from trying. 

Jason Hall: History is littered with crazy founders that had ideas that... every business got started because a bunch of people said that's a terrible idea. I'm not going to do it. And somebody said, well, I'm going to do it. And did it. Of course, 90 percent of those fail, but right, you know, no pressure, Chris. 

Jeff Santoro: Selfishly, Chris, I hope it works out because as much as I still have Motley Fool Money in my regular podcast rotation, I have missed not having your voice in my ears for these past several months. So I hope it works out and I hope we all get to check that out in the near future. 

Jason Hall: We need more Chris Hill in all [00:51:00] of our lives. That's for sure. 

Chris Hill: I appreciate that guys. And yes, but rest assured if this show gets the green light you will be among the first to know. 

Jason Hall: Fantastic. Excited to hear. I was teasing a little bit with the morbid Warren Buffett dying and you're coming on our show thing, but open invitation, Chris, we'd love to have you on again sometime. 

Last question for you. People hearing this, they're going to want to know if this project gets green light and it moves forward, and you move from behind the paywall with the events and stuff you're doing, to this side of the paywall again with some content.

How can they find out about that? Where can people find out about what's going on with Chris Hill? 

Chris Hill: I have an account on Twitter slash X. I can't bring myself-

Jason Hall: No, we don't call it X. It's Twitter. 

Chris Hill: I'm on Twitter. @ChrisHillALX is my handle, and I'm on LinkedIn as well. I will be announcing on both of those platforms the second there is something to announce.

Jason Hall: Awesome. We'll put the links for both of those those two profiles in the show notes and [00:52:00] also in the transcript too. So, don't have to stop driving and write it down, people. Telling you. It's going to be- 

Chris Hill: just read the notes. 

Jason Hall: Read the notes. 

Read the notes, all there is to it. It's all there is to it. 

Jeff, I think that's it, right? I think we're done? 

Jeff Santoro: Yeah, we did it. 

Jason Hall: We're done. We did it. Words about things like Chris Hill. From our mouths. And words from Chris Hill's mouth. 

Chris, thanks again for coming on the show. 

Chris Hill: My pleasure, guys. Thanks. 

Jason Hall: As always, we love to give our answers to these hard questions about investing, wax poetic about history, people like Morgan Housel, and what's next for Chris Hill.

Chris can tell us what's next for Chris Hill, but when it comes to answering those questions, everybody out there, you got to do it for yourself. You can do it. I believe in you. Alright, Jeff, we'll see you next time, buddy. 

Jeff Santoro: See you next time. 

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