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Motivation Is Everything
Old 09-19-2004, 12:27 PM   #1
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Motivation Is Everything

This is a post that I first put to the Motley Fool board on January 9, 2001 as part of a thread titled "Your Money Personality."

There's an angle to this that I believe sheds some light on why the national savings rate is so low, and which I believe suggests ways of persuading larger numbers of people of the merits of the Retire Early idea.

For me, savings has been an all or nothing proposition. Prior to discovering the Retire Early idea, I had zero savings (at age 35). After discovering it, I think it would be fair to say that I became an "intense" saver. At the high point, I was saving 80 percent of post-tax income. There is little that anyone could have said to me in the old days that would have persuaded me to save more. The problem wasn't that I hadn't heard the arguments for saving, or that I didn't understand them. It was that I didn't care.

Most pro-saving arguments are presented in terms that makes sense to Thinking types. Thinkers love to look at charts showing how investment returns compound over time. Feelers do not. Pull out a calculator, and most of the Feeling types leave the room. Or, if they worry that walking out would hurt the Thinkers' feelings, they patiently endure the lecture until they have a chance to get back to a subject that holds their interest. That is, a subject relating to humans and their personalities.

What the Retire Early idea did for me was put a human face on the concept of saving. Before, the purpose of saving was to make money, to be secure, or to be able to join in discussions of how various stocks are doing. Boring stuff.
But achieving financial independence was not about money. It was about changing the type of work I did. Money was just a tool, and Feeling types have no objection to picking up tools when they see a clear purpose for doing so. In fact, the goal in mind serves to humanize the tool used to achieve it. Feelers play guitars not because they enjoy the feel of wood and nylon string, but because they like how the instrument can be used to express emotions.

All of a a sudden, saving was not a Money issue for me. It was a "Spending more time with my family" issue. Or a "Do work where you spend time helping people solve problems" issue. What was once boring was now compelling. Every budget category reduced was another song composed. Once I had a savings goal that made sense to me, it was spending that became boring. Spending was what was keeping me from having more dealings with people. Who needed it?

The advertisers realize how many people are looking for greater human interaction in today's world. When they sell soda, they don't put on the package "Sugar and water inside!." They offer the experience of being part of the new generation, or of teaching the world to sing. But personal finance texts sell the sugar and water aspects of saving. "Save this amount today, and it will produce this other amount over time," they claim. For many of us, it goes in one ear and out the other. You are more likely to teach the world to sing by saving money than by buying a Coke, but the Feelers among us rarely hear that message.

Acquiring motivation is the first step to achieving any money goal. And different types of people are motivated by different things. I believe that a focus in most personal finance literature on quantifiable goals turns off a good number of the people who most need help. It is important to quantify things at some point. But motivation must come first if the message is to hit home.

Some would argue that Feeling types should be motivated to save by the need to provide security for their families. Thoughts along those lines probably kick in at later ages. But many Feeling types in their 20s and 30s have no reason to save that makes sense to them if they have not heard of the Retire Early idea.

But tell them about the chance to spend more time with their families, or to do charitable work, or to pursue cultural interests, and watch out!
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Re: Motivation Is Everything
Old 09-19-2004, 02:05 PM   #2
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Re: Motivation Is Everything

Quote:
This is a post that I first put to the Motley Fool board on January 9, 2001 as part of a thread titled "Your Money Personality."

There's an angle to this that I believe sheds some light on why the national savings rate is so low, and which I believe suggests ways of persuading larger numbers of people of the merits of the Retire Early idea.

For me, savings has been an all or nothing proposition. Prior to discovering the Retire Early idea, I had zero savings (at age 35). After discovering it, I think it would be fair to say that I became an "intense" saver. At the high point, I was saving 80 percent of post-tax income. There is little that anyone could have said to me in the old days that would have persuaded me to save more. The problem wasn't that I hadn't heard the arguments for saving, or that I didn't understand them. It was that I didn't care.

Most pro-saving arguments are presented in terms that makes sense to Thinking types. Thinkers love to look at charts showing how investment returns compound over time. Feelers do not. Pull out a calculator, and most of the Feeling types leave the room. Or, if they worry that walking out would hurt the Thinkers' feelings, they patiently endure the lecture until they have a chance to get back to a subject that holds their interest. That is, a subject relating to humans and their personalities.

What the Retire Early idea did for me was put a human face on the concept of saving. Before, the purpose of saving was to make money, to be secure, or to be able to join in discussions of how various stocks are doing. Boring stuff.
But achieving financial independence was not about money. It was about changing the type of work I did. Money was just a tool, and Feeling types have no objection to picking up tools when they see a clear purpose for doing so. In fact, the goal in mind serves to humanize the tool used to achieve it. Feelers play guitars not because they enjoy the feel of wood and nylon string, but because they like how the instrument can be used to express emotions.

All of a a sudden, saving was not a Money issue for me. It was a "Spending more time with my family" issue. Or a "Do work where you spend time helping people solve problems" issue. What was once boring was now compelling. Every budget category reduced was another song composed. Once I had a savings goal that made sense to me, it was spending that became boring. Spending was what was keeping me from having more dealings with people. Who needed it?

The advertisers realize how many people are looking for greater human interaction in today's world. When they sell soda, they don't put on the package "Sugar and water inside!." They offer the experience of being part of the new generation, or of teaching the world to sing. But personal finance texts sell the sugar and water aspects of saving. "Save this amount today, and it will produce this other amount over time," they claim. For many of us, it goes in one ear and out the other. You are more likely to teach the world to sing by saving money than by buying a Coke, but the Feelers among us rarely hear that message.

Acquiring motivation is the first step to achieving any money goal. And different types of people are motivated by different things. I believe that a focus in most personal finance literature on quantifiable goals turns off a good number of the people who most need help. It is important to quantify things at some point. But motivation must come first if the message is to hit home.

Some would argue that Feeling types should be motivated to save by the need to provide security for their families. Thoughts along those lines probably kick in at later ages. But many Feeling types in their 20s and 30s have no reason to save that makes sense to them if they have not heard of the Retire Early idea.

But tell them about the chance to spend more time with their families, or to do charitable work, or to pursue cultural interests, and watch out!
*****: Excellent post. Without proper motivation, hard to get a handle on anything.
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Re: Motivation Is Everything
Old 09-19-2004, 07:50 PM   #3
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Re: Motivation Is Everything

Quote:
The problem wasn't that I hadn't heard the arguments for saving, or that I didn't understand them. It was that I didn't care.
Good analysis of one aspect of the the ER philosophy.

The ER spark came to me when I was a teenager, for some of the reasons you state in your post. I had seen old people work until they died without enjoying their lives much nor enjoying time with their families. I knew I didn't want to suffer the same fate and I was determined to do something not to go down that same road.

Then while I was watching a Sugar Ray Leonard fight on TV (I think the Leonard-Hearns fight in 1981), the commentator stated how Leonard saved every single dollar he had earned as a pro fighter and would only live on the investment income. I decided then that I was going to try the same thing because it would give me a stream of income to fulfill my dream of not working until I died. Looking back, I can see how naive I was since I didn't understand the value of money, inflation, and the fact that Leonard was making millions of dollars and a 6-month CD was paying double-digit interest rates.

Then when I went to college, one of the most amazing concepts I learned was the future value formulas and the rule of 72. Now when someone tells me the indians were stupid for selling Manhattan in 1626 for $24, I tell them that if the indians were able to get just 5% on their $24, they would have about $2.5 billion today. Over 20 years later, I still run future values in amazement of how money can grow over time, especially over the long-term.

Finally, when I discovered this forum, the retireearly homepage, the Terhorsts, and similar websites, it was like I had found my long-lost relatives. It's reassuring to think I'm not the only one that believes in the ER concept.

What even amazes me more is that when I try to explain this to people, they are bored by the concept or find it amusing to think such a theoretical concept can be made practical. I feel like shaking them and saying, "DON'T YOU WANT HAVE THE OPTION OF BREAKING FREE FROM THE CHAINS OF WORK?" Wouldn't it be better to have the option of waking up one morning and deciding you are going to spend your day golfing, fishing, writing or reading a book, going to the beach, planning a trip, doing a woodworking project, taking your child to the zoo or aquarium, gardening, inventing something, donating your time to a charity for a good cause, or a million other things that financial freedom allows a person to do rather than go to work for 8 of the best hours of the day? I can't fathom the idea of having a "boss" or "supervisor"who controls me and tells me what to do for 1/3 of my life.

A financial freedom course should be a mandatory part of every school curriculum. Children as young as 5 should be tought the value of saving and the consequences of spending. Budgeting, future value concepts, financial freedom planning, wealth building, and the value of time should be part of every education. Most kids (not my children) are kept in the dark about how valuable their time is and are not given the brain tools to help them set financial goals for themselves. Why should anyone be surprised that when most kids graduate from high school they are already on the road to financial disaster?

However, I am convinced that for many, this ER concept must be in their blood for the concept to stick. It's an undiscovered gene I am sure. How someone could continue to want to go to work after reading the posts in this forum is beyond me. How someone could dedicate their lives to a company instead of themselves and their family is mind-boggling. But, I guess if everyone was like me, there would be no large companies, actors would not be making $20 million a movie, athletes would not be making hundreds of thousands of dollars per inning, and there would be no Las Vegas.
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Re: Motivation Is Everything
Old 09-20-2004, 05:14 AM   #4
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Re: Motivation Is Everything

Friends of mine who have known me for years still find it funny that I almost always order water when we go to restaurants instead of paying $2.00 for a glass of Coke. They all understand my aspirations of FIRE & have known about them for quite some time. What is funny to me is that after all of this time I still get the question, "But what will you do all day?" :

Despite all of the numbers crunching and figures, FIRE is very much an emotional endeavor with emotional motivations. We want what most people want... the difference being we're willing to make the effort & sacrifice to obtain it. 8)

-Jay
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Re: Motivation Is Everything
Old 09-20-2004, 05:56 AM   #5
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Re: Motivation Is Everything

For me, the FI in FIRE has been more improtant than the RE. Unlike some who have posted her, I am not desperate to retire, but getting to a point where I have the choice has been my main motivation.
Although I am looking forward to retirement next year, now that I have just about arrived at a point where I have the choice, the urgency to retire has diminished.
John Lee
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Re: Motivation Is Everything
Old 09-20-2004, 06:58 AM   #6
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Re: Motivation Is Everything

I am somewhat the same as John_Lee in that now I can do it the urgency is gone. Also I am doing a new project at work and am no longer bored. I may have to watch that I do not work too long but have set myself a absolute final working date of December 2007. I will be 54 then. Probably the next time I get really bored I will be gone.


Bruce :-/
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Re: Motivation Is Everything
Old 09-20-2004, 09:31 AM   #7
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Re: Motivation Is Everything

Quote:
This is a post that I first put to the Motley Fool board on January 9, 2001 as part of a thread titled "Your Money Personality."

For me, savings has been an all or nothing proposition. Prior to discovering the Retire Early idea, I had zero savings (at age 35). After discovering it, I think it would be fair to say that I became an "intense" saver. At the high point, I was saving 80 percent of post-tax income. There is little that anyone could have said to me in the old days that would have persuaded me to save more. The problem wasn't that I hadn't heard the arguments for saving, or that I didn't understand them. It was that I didn't care.
The same for me. I'm 29 and I up to when I discovered the concept of "Early retirement", I had no retirement goal and was thinking I would retire "eventually", thus, no real saving plan.

Now that I want to retire very early (at 37), I think it is much easier to save. The reason is that retirement is not an abstract concept (something which is 36 years in the future), but something real, in the mid-term (in 8 years). It changed my perception of savings, to the best I think.

Regards,
Jack
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Re: Motivation Is Everything
Old 09-21-2004, 06:00 AM   #8
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Re: Motivation Is Everything

"Now that I want to retire very early (at 37), I think it is much easier to save. The reason is that retirement is not an abstract concept (something which is 36 years in the future), but something real, in the mid-term (in 8 years). It changed my perception of savings, to the best I think."

I love the way you said that, JackKey. I have written a book ("Passion Saving") on this stuff, which I will be offering for sale at my web site when I get it up early next year. I contrast the conventional approach to saving--which I refer to as "Sacrifice Saving"--with the approach that is used by most contributors to this forum--an approach that I refer to as "Passion Saving."

Your words above offer a precise description of why Passion Saving works and Sacrifice Saving does not. When you are saving for a goal that will be achieved in a reasonable amount of time, there is a real benefit that is realized with each act of saving--the satisfaction you obtain from making progress towards realization of your goal. When the benefits of saving are not going to be realized for 10 or 20 or 30 years, the benefit is, as you put it, "abstract." Abstract goals do not supply the motivation required for a saving effort to succeed.

Saving is not a sacrifice when you are saving for a goal that will provide benefits in the not-too-distant future. That's why contributors of this board community have generally been been able to accumulate in relatively short amounts of time sums far in excess of what most middle-class workers following the conventional saving model have been able to accumulate. Saving does not need to be a sacrifice. You must insure that saving does not feel like an act of self-denial if you are to have a realistic hope of doing it well.
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Re: Motivation Is Everything
Old 09-21-2004, 07:41 AM   #9
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Re: Motivation Is Everything

For me, even though I could run those spreadsheets that show compunding interest and the value of savings (being an accountant and all ), I never really "felt" that I would be able to retire early.

Two things contributed to that:First,my ENTIRE family have been blue-collar, work hard, but spend everything you make and work-til-you drop kind of people. My sister and I are the first ones in our family to get white collar jobs and a different "point of view". Still, you shouldn't discount the effect of having that point of view around you (and soaking into your subconscious) for most of your life.

Second, I got on the gerbil wheel of working/spending/working/spending and running up a huge credit card debt. Even after I paid it off, I didn't think I'd be able to save enough capital to throw off income that I could live on.

What changed my mind? I got laid-off a couple of years ago with a big severence package. I decided that I would travel around the world for a year since I would never be able to do that again (so I thought). But that time traveling showed me how "cheaply" I could live and enjoy myself, how resourceful I actually was, and how little cr@p I actually needed. It was my "a-ha" momemt. It was the first time I "felt"/"knew" I could retire early.

As soon as I got back to the work-a-day world, I became a zealot, saving as much as I could, learning as much as I can about investments, did not buy another car and pack my lunch! Now, I "know" that I can retire early and I can't wait to get back to not working and traveling again.
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Re: Motivation Is Everything
Old 09-21-2004, 03:06 PM   #10
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Re: Motivation Is Everything

It was a combination of factors that conspired to create life circumstances...

Desire to spend more quality time with spouse.

Combined and mutual dissastifaction with the workplace
(we both worked for the same overall government entity, doing the same jobs, but for different departments)

The realization through a bare minimum of reserach that we were both of an age (around 43 at the ah-ha) that would entitle us to a modest pension when we hit 50 repspective.

The agreement between us that spending all our time together, living modestly, but freely, without obligation to any "bosses", to persue our artistic and other interests was a viable attainable goal.

Everything had to fall in to place. DW and I didn't become an item until our late 30's, after various forgettable attempts at relationships with people that we know in 20-20 hindsight were 'just wrong' for us (ok maybe for anybody). The financial fallout of broken marriages made started at square one a requirement, with the lucky(?) exception of what I've come to find from reading this and similar DB's is the holy grail of FIRE, wait for it... dramatic pause... here it comes... The Inflation Adjusted Defined Benefit Plan. No SWR to worry over, EVER, Way-Cool.

With our self-imposed 7-year plan (sounds like something Stalin would have liked) in place our motivation boundless, it was a matter of maximizing our tax-deffered 457 savings over that period to supplement the modest pension so we could enjoy those things beyond the basics a bit more, i.e. travel, toys, good food, etc.

Real life has a way of getting in the way of the best laid plans... We're now 6 years into the 7-year plan. DW is home for good (upside), but I'm on track to add another year to my sentence, so call it my 8-year plan (downside)

I only found this board earlier this year, but I never thought to look before that. It's been great to share with what I've come to see as a very small minority that "get" what ER/FIRE is all about. I try to sell it to my staff almost daily, most are sick of hearing me talk about, a few are converts to the cause, and increasing their 457 withholdings ...................

But I will say that ***** has finally written a coherent post after reading, and mostly spead-reading a few complete novels worth of his ramblings. Kudos Dude!

Motivation. Oh Yes I am beyond totally motivated. My date is not exact yet, call it July 2006, and I won't be looking back, checking in, or otherwise hoping for contract work... No Party for me please, just Bah Bye! 8)
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Re: Motivation Is Everything
Old 09-21-2004, 04:25 PM   #11
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Re: Motivation Is Everything

Quote:
But I will say that ***** has finally written a coherent post after reading, and mostly spead-reading a few complete novels worth of his ramblings. Kudos Dude!
Yeah well he has a book he wants to sell, so he has to stop being a turd for a while.

Simply wouldnt do to try to get people interested in paying for his ramblings when the various on-line communities have either banned him or asked him to take his crap on the road.
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Re: Motivation Is Everything
Old 09-22-2004, 04:22 AM   #12
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Re: Motivation Is Everything

I will say that ***** has finally written a coherent post after reading, and mostly spead-reading a few complete novels worth of his ramblings.

The Data-Based SWR Tool is something new, JonnyM. It's not reasonable to expect to be able to understand it completely as the result of a single post giving a brief description of the concept. We spent years at these boards discussing the conventional methodology SWR before I came forward with the data-based tool. People have all sorts of unfounded ideas in their heads as the result of things they have heard in the past.To come to an appreciation of the new tool, people need to be able to ask questions about it. For them to do that, we need to create an atmostphere in which reasoned discussion on the question is possible.

I have confidence that you and others in the community will come around in time. Why? Because I saw the reaction when I first put forward the idea of an SWR calculation including adjustments for changes in valuation levels. The reaction that you heard then was not the reactiion you hear today. What I heard then was lots of thanks and praise from community members, people saying "this is the best discussion we have had in months." There are many aspiring early retirees with a strong desire for discussion of the realities of SWRs, so long as that discussion is comprised of a reasoned exchange of viewpoints.

We'll have to wait and see how things turn out. But I think that you may be pleasantly surprised with how the SWR discussions resolve themselves over time. I wouldn't be too shocked if one day in the future you put up a post saying "Why did you waste so much time on all that soft-side stuff, *****, when you could have been sharing with us what you knew about SWRs?" Stranger things have happened in the course of human events.
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Re: Motivation Is Everything
Old 09-22-2004, 04:38 AM   #13
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Re: Motivation Is Everything

Simply wouldnt do to try to get people interested in paying for his ramblings when the various on-line communities have either banned him or asked him to take his crap on the road.

It's a fact that I was banned for a time at both the Motley Fool board and the NoFeeBoards.com site. In neither case was I banned for engaging in any prohibited posting practices. In both cases, the owners or administrators of the sites thanked me for my contributions. In both cases, they indicated that they would prefer that the DCMs follow the posting rules that apply at those sites. In both caes, it was clear that I was being banned solely for the content of my posts, that I had raised questions about the methodology of the study published at RetireEarlyHomePage.com. In both cases, I have since been reinstated.

In my writing at my web site, I will not be trying to hide from people any of the things that happened during the course of the Great SWR Debate. I probably won't be putting up anything there on SWRs for six months or so because I need to promote the Passion Saving book and the book does not deal with investing questions. But when some time opens up, I will be writing a Research Report on the SWR question and offering it for sale at the site. I expect that the report will explain what happened at the boards during the Great Debate. The reaction that we saw from DCMs is an important part of the story.

One of the things that is going on here is that our community is maturing. In earlier days, no one questioned the REHP study, although I suspect that a good number must have had some doubts about a number of claims that were made in regard to it. That was wrong. If community members are going to put up studies at web sites, they are in effect proclaming themselves to be experts in the subject matter. Experts have an obligation to respond to questions about the methodologies they employ. We need to figure out a way to see that experts in our community can be questioned without their responses tearing the community into pieces.
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Re: Motivation Is Everything
Old 09-22-2004, 04:40 AM   #14
 
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Re: Motivation Is Everything

Hello *****. You may be right about eventually
receiving your due respect for SWR insight. Most of your prior posts gave me a headache, but as you pointed out "stranger things have happened".
Anyway, while I am interested in the SWR concept,
I am not fixated on it. I did a quick study the other day
and my net worth has increased pretty steadily since 1998 (Got divorced, retired completely, moved back to
Illinois - big year). Anyway, now my net worth increase
has slowed a bit, but I am close to SS. My point is that I am not sure I will ever have to get really serious
about SWR. I last worked in June 1998 and
obviously have not touched my base yet (this is with no pension, no SS, no medical insurance help, and no inheritance) If this
continues (which is debatable) SWR becomes just an interesting exercise.

John Galt
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Re: Motivation Is Everything
Old 09-22-2004, 05:01 AM   #15
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Re: Motivation Is Everything

While I am interested in the SWR concept, I am not fixated on it.

I second that emotion. I developed the Data-Based SWR Tool in 1996. I posted at the Motley Fool board from May 1999 through May 2002 without once mentioning the Data-Based Tool. How hung up on SWRs does that suggest that I am?

There is something that I am fixated on, however. Community. I have been studying Retire Early issues for 13 years now. I have an intense desire to learn all that I can about this subject and to share what I have learned with others. This discussion board community permits me and others to do that. Discussion boards are a powerful communications medium. I have devoted thousands of hours of my life to building this one up (I mean the larger community, not just this board). There are hundreds of other community members who have devoted large amounts of time (free of charge) to build up the community.

Those community members have rights. There were over 100 community members at the Motley Fool board who asked that reasoned discussions on SWRs be permitted. I want to see the rights of those community members given recognition. I don't want to cause further damage to the community. So I need to tread cautiously. But my long-term goal is to have a community where all community members feel that they have the right to bring up whatever subjects they want to talk about and to ask whatever questions they want to ask.

You have deep roots in the community, John Galt. You could be a big help. I'd be grateful for anything you were willing to do to bring things to a resolution that is in the overall community's best long-term interests.
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Re: Motivation Is Everything
Old 09-22-2004, 06:42 AM   #16
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Re: Motivation Is Everything

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There were over 100 community members at the Motley Fool board who asked that reasoned discussions on SWRs be permitted.
Hey, sh!tferbrains, I think you would have a very hard time convincing anyone but yourself that the crap you post constitutes "reasoned" discussion of anything. Go away! We do not need your rambling cluttering up these boards and I for one find it repugnant that you are trying to market your claptrap here. Anyone else think dory should re-consider banning this miscreant?
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Re: Motivation Is Everything
Old 09-22-2004, 06:47 AM   #17
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Re: Motivation Is Everything

Not helpful.
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Re: Motivation Is Everything
Old 09-22-2004, 06:51 AM   #18
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Re: Motivation Is Everything

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Not helpful.
Good. Go away. I plan on continuing to be "not helpful" in your quest to annoy everyone so much that they give up on these forums.
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Re: Motivation Is Everything
Old 09-22-2004, 08:03 AM   #19
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Re: Motivation Is Everything

brewer12345
Quote:
Good. Go away. I plan on continuing to be "not helpful" in your quest to annoy everyone so much that they give up on these forums.
Your attitude is horribly destructive. It can destroy this board.

John R.
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Re: Motivation Is Everything
Old 09-22-2004, 08:16 AM   #20
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Re: Motivation Is Everything

I'd like to quote another poster who seems to have just the phrase I need:

"Oblay Emay!"
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"There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest have to pee on the electric fence for themselves."



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