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  • - Hi everyone, welcome to the Daily Homeroom livestream.

  • We have a exciting, I guess we could call it a show today.

  • Just to get everyone on the same page

  • of what this thing even is.

  • If you're showing up for the first time

  • we're doing these live streams as a way to stay connected

  • during school closures.

  • When we started seeing the school closures

  • and now seems a lifetime ago,

  • but it was I guess it was four or five weeks ago,

  • we realized that all of us at Khan Academy

  • with as a non-for-profit with a mission of providing

  • a free world-class education for anyone anywhere

  • that we had to step up and we had to figure out

  • how to support all of you as parents,

  • as teachers and students as much as possible.

  • So we started publishing things like daily schedules

  • to structure all of the content on Khan Academy,

  • learning plans, teacher-parent webinars

  • and also this homeroom

  • and it's a place to talk about everything.

  • The closures themselves, the economy, COVID virus.

  • Many times just ask any questions you have.

  • We have an awesome guest today, I encourage you,

  • it's going to be Mellody Hobson.

  • I'll give a better introduction for her in a few seconds.

  • But feel free and start asking questions

  • on the message boards

  • either for myself or for Mellody especially.

  • I wanna give everyone a reminder, we are not-for-profit.

  • We are funded primarily through philanthropic donations.

  • And so if you are in a position to do so,

  • please think about donating to Khan Academy.

  • We were already running at a deficit before school closures

  • and now our traffic is almost three X

  • of what it typically is.

  • And you could imagine we're trying to do more

  • in this context.

  • So, for us to be able to do the work for folks

  • who might not be able to afford, anything is appreciated.

  • I do wanna give a special shoutout

  • to several corporations who stepped up in the last few weeks

  • to really especially around the COVID response

  • Bank of America, Fastly, Novartis, Google.org, and AT&T.

  • As with that, I'm eager to have as much time

  • with our guests as possible.

  • I've known our guests Mellody for some time,

  • Mellody Hobson is the co-CEO

  • and President of Ariel investments.

  • And, there's two things I really I'm eager

  • to talk to you about Mellody.

  • One is just your journey to becoming co-CEO

  • of what I think is one of the most important

  • investment firms in the world.

  • And your view of the economy,

  • we brought it, had a couple of folks

  • on in the investment management world

  • and it's just interesting times to put it lightly.

  • So maybe a good place to start Mellody,

  • tell us there's a lot of young people watching

  • who are trying to figure out their life,

  • what should they do with their life?

  • Tell us a little bit about your journey.

  • How did you end up becoming the co-CEO of Ariel investments?

  • - Well, thank you so much for having me on Sal.

  • And just know that I'm such a big fan of yours,

  • as you know, all too well, from the first time

  • I came to see you I told you I was just enamored

  • by all the things you were doing to teach so many people

  • all around the world and I applaud your efforts

  • and just feel so much gratitude

  • that you have things like this that exist

  • for people all over the world.

  • I'm also honored to be asked to be one of the people

  • that you interview and to tell my story.

  • My story I think is the story of many people

  • around the world in so many ways,

  • just a story of persistence and really, really hard work.

  • I grew up in Chicago,

  • and I was the youngest of six children.

  • My mom was a single mom

  • and when I was growing up,

  • we had a really at times challenging existence,

  • to say the least sometimes we got evicted,

  • sometimes our phone got disconnected, lights got cut off.

  • We'd live in some of the abandoned apartments

  • that my mom used to try to fix up

  • and rent for people in order to make a living.

  • And it is during that time that I became clear

  • that I was desperate to understand money,

  • not make it, not have a lot, understand it.

  • I thought if I could understand money,

  • I could have a better life

  • and I really committed myself to that.

  • When I was 19 years old,

  • I had the opportunity to be an intern at Ariel investments,

  • which was this fledgling investment firm,

  • started by this wondercan named John Rogers,

  • who started the company when he was 24 years old.

  • Today, we're 37 years old now.

  • And after I graduated from college,

  • I went back and worked at the firm in 1991,

  • after graduating from Princeton,

  • and I've only had one job since then.

  • And I started off on the client services and marketing side

  • learning everything I could learned about investing

  • in the stock market, and over time rose up

  • in the organization.

  • In May of 2000, I became president,

  • I went from intern to president.

  • And then last summer in 2019, I became co-CEO.

  • It's an amazing story in so many ways,

  • and I have so much gratitude for the opportunity

  • I've been given, but most of all,

  • I have the most amount of gratitude

  • for what I've been able to learn about money

  • and investing over this near 30-year career

  • that I've been doing this

  • and how that is really put in me a fire

  • to teach what I know to other people

  • so that they can have a better life.

  • - And what's your sense?

  • What do you think made your trajectory so successful?

  • What do you think were the traits

  • that made you a successful investor

  • and allowed other people to recognize it as well?

  • - Well, I think the first thing that helped me

  • was that I always believe

  • that you have to always be learning, always,

  • that I ever have felt even today

  • that I know enough and then I can stop.

  • And so having that open mind,

  • some people call it a beginner's mind.

  • That's a Buddhist concept that your mind is always new,

  • like a child, and you're approaching everything

  • from the perspective of a beginner,

  • allows you to really take in a lot of information.

  • Ray Kroc who started McDonald's had a quote

  • that I really liked.

  • Ray says, "As long as you're green, you grow,

  • "when you're ripe you rot."

  • And I really liked that concept

  • of just staying green all the time and being open.

  • Not being so convinced that you know everything,

  • I think that made a difference.

  • Secondly, a commitment to learning.

  • We call ourselves a learning culture at Ariel.

  • We always wanna build on what we learned from before.

  • So right now being in this global pandemic,

  • we're building on all the knowledge we learned

  • in the financial crisis of 2008 and nine.

  • And then during that period, we built on the things

  • that we learned in 9/11.

  • And that we built on things we learned in the crash of '87.

  • So it's like constantly accumulating knowledge

  • that will make you better, and building on it,

  • till you have more and more muscle memory.

  • And the last thing is just I love the idea of learning

  • about the markets, talking about companies,

  • really understanding how money works around the world.

  • It just really fascinates me.

  • And so I think it's very important,

  • you become more successful

  • at something that you really like.

  • And I just really love the business that I'm in.

  • And at the end of the day,

  • I tell our team that we work with,

  • we get to make people's lives better

  • because we grow their money in their pension fund

  • or their kids college education money,

  • that's on our mutual funds, whatever it might be,

  • so that they can have a better outcome.

  • And that's as fulfilling as anything that anyone can do

  • as fulfilling as you teaching maybe,

  • as fulfilling as doctors who are doing what they do.

  • We feel that our work is that important.

  • - And we're getting a lot of questions often

  • from YouTube and social media which is great.

  • For Aditya Gupta.

  • And this is a good starter question.

  • A lot of people are kinda vaguely familiar,

  • okay, they're these things, these investment funds.

  • But his question is, what does Ariel investments do?

  • And maybe I'll extend his question,

  • What is your day like?

  • And maybe what is it like when you started?

  • What does an investment manager and analysts do?

  • - So let's start off with Ariel investments does.

  • We are a boutique, independent, money management company,

  • we manage stock portfolios for big institutions,

  • so think states, cities, foundations,

  • whole host of organizations, often pension

  • but it could be endowment money as well.

  • And then for individuals,

  • we have publicly traded mutual funds

  • that anyone can invest with us,

  • who has as little as $50 a month to put in our mutual funds.

  • We buy domestic companies,

  • US companies that are small and medium sized companies

  • that are out of favor

  • but who are strong potential for growth.

  • And over the years, we've owned everything from companies

  • that you know, they usually dominate the niche

  • that they're in.

  • Everything from Smucker's jelly,

  • which is in the portfolio right now.

  • In the past, we've owned things

  • like Tiffany's, The Retailer and Clorox

  • the diversified consumer products company.

  • So you name it, those companies that dominated niche.

  • We say once you get the customer,

  • they go back again and again,

  • small and medium-sized companies.

  • And then we have international and global portfolios.

  • International means it's only companies based outside

  • of the United States

  • and global means it's companies all over the world,

  • including the United States.

  • And those portfolios also seek to invest in companies

  • that are out of favor.

  • And that's everything from higher companies

  • to the version of what you would have in America

  • with some of our internet businesses

  • that are based in China, like Baidu.

  • So, we're looking for these brands and franchises.

  • And we want businesses that will be able to grow over time,

  • but we wanna buy them when they're out of favor,

  • when for whatever reason they've been cast aside.

  • So as you might imagine, right now, during a time

  • when the stock market has been so volatile,

  • there have been a lot of buying opportunities

  • that have come to us.

  • So these days, we're super busy.

  • But when you ask about my day,

  • I am actually not an investment analyst,

  • although I am someone whose Rolodex

  • is used on a regular basis to inform the stocks

  • that we are buying.

  • So in this current environment,

  • I've been on the phone on many occasions

  • with my co-CEO calling friends in the industry,

  • talking about what they're seeing in the market

  • because we can learn from everyone,

  • including we called his old corporate finance teacher,

  • someone named Burton Malkiel,

  • who wrote a book called "The Random Walk Down Wall Street."

  • that is so famous, I think it's in its ninth edition,