When 2015–16 Jepson School Leader-in-Residence David Gardner walked into Dr. Don Forsyth’s Theories and Models of Leadership class, his energy was catching. After a brief introduction, Gardner immediately opened the discussion up to the students because the lecture was about them and what they wanted to know. One hand went up, and the conversation launched into a discussion about conflict and entrepreneurship. Gardner was candid as he discussed his personal experiences.

“What motivates me are innovative breakthroughs. That is what I love,” said Gardner, whose career is defined by subverting conventional thinking.

In 1993, Gardner co-founded The Motley Fool with his younger brother, Tom. What started out as a newsletter with 200 subscribers has grown into a stock advisory service with over 670,000 subscribers, additional investing funds and wealth management options, and offices in Alexandria, Va., the UK, Australia, Canada, Singapore, and Germany.

As leader-in-residence, Gardner visited the University of Richmond campus in both the fall and spring semesters to speak with students, faculty, and community members, offering formal and informal networking opportunities and sharing his personal experiences and advice on investing and leadership.

“What surprised me was his [Gardner’s] genuineness,” said Troy Springer, ’18, a leadership studies and economics double major, who was a fan of Gardner before the leader-in-residence’s visits to campus. “He struck me as a person who really cares about people and lives The Motley Fool’s mission to ‘Educate, Amuse & Enrich.’”

Gardner concluded his spring visit to campus with a public lecture in the Jepson Alumni Center. His presentation, “8 Foolish Thoughts on Investing and Leadership,” combined investment advice with charm and character as he illustrated investing points with personal anecdotes.

Story after story, jester-hat-topped Gardner kept the full house laughing as he doled out information. Gardner discussed learning about investing through trips to Safeway for chocolate pudding with his dad. And he reminisced about the time he and his brother got booed on The View for making what, in 1998, was thought to be a bad stock pick.

What stock did he pick? Starbucks.

While Gardner’s jester hat fit his witty humor and provided fantastic opportunities for selfies, the 2015–16 leader-in-residence wore many hats—innovator, stock picker, lecturer, story-teller, and leader.

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David Gardner’s “Foolish” Thoughts on Leaders

  1. Leaders are driven by a vision
  2. Leaders must be culture-builders
  3. Leaders are wise
  4. Leaders know what they’re chasing