It’s absolutely a beautiful thing when we engage friends and family and lead them to the discovery of long-term investing. The opportunity to make a substantial difference, enabling better futures, is massive. We know that long-term investors also often become loyal (even rabid) consumers for the companies that they own. Regular vigilance combines with routine consumption. I wish I could change the names in the following story to protect the guilty … but it serves as a reminder of how powerful these forces of discovery can be.
I’d made the sojourn again from southeastern Michigan back to the shores of the Mississippi River in northwestern Illinois. As a fairly frequent traveler, my bags are generally packed carefully to make sure that I have all of the necessities for effective travel. I’d arrived back at my parent’s residence well after midnight and settled in for a good night’s sleep knowing that I’d see them at the breakfast table in the morning.
Sunrise came … but something was wrong. It was one of those gnawing feelings. I could have sworn that I stuck that tube of toothpaste in my overnight bag. No matter how deep I dug, it was clear that I was on the road without this necessary item? But my toothbrush was there? If it was there, how in the world did I forget the tube of toothpaste?
Sure enough, Mom and Dad were already seated at the kitchen table. We exchanged hugs and greetings and my instincts began to kick in.
“Dad, you wouldn’t have any idea why I can’t find my toothpaste, would you?”
Grinning, as he often does, like a Cheshire Cat but with his face aimed at his cereal, he responded, “Hmmm. That’s too bad, sorry to hear that. I probably have some real toothpaste you can use.” He was now snickering and giggling while continuing to munch on his cereal. He was also clearly avoiding eye contact.
“What’s with the Annual Report standing next to the bathroom mirror?”
Mom mumbled something along the lines of, “… Oh no. Here we go again.” The cereal crunching continued, but he offered up, “You’ve been warned.” There was still no eye contact.
“Enlighten me, Dad. I don’t seem to recall any warnings?” (It was a white lie. Hairs were now standing on the back of my neck and I was clearly in the danger zone.)
“You should know better than to bring that contraband into this house.”
Mischievous giggling continued. Mom was now grinning, siding with the suspect.
“Why don’t you join the rest of the world and use Colgate ($CL) toothpaste instead of that ‘stuff’ ($PG) from Cincinnati? Would you like to see a Fact Sheet?”
It was crystal clear now. My toothpaste had been hijacked and replaced with a Colgate-Palmolive annual report. Dad became a Colgate stakeholder after seeing a company presentation at an investment conference a few years ago. It seems he also became an ardent evangelist and enforcer for their products.