You might be wondering why we call ourselves Fools (note the capital “F”), especially when we are in the serious business of investment. We could have given ourselves a serious, professional-sounding name, but instead, we chose to call ourselves The Motley Fool.

We took our name from a Shakespeare play, As You Like It. (“I met a Fool in the forest, a motley fool…”) In this and other Shakespeare plays, the court jester, or the fool, was the only character who could speak truth to the king without having his head chopped off. The Fool was never afraid to speak up and question conventional wisdom, particularly when thoses conventions hurt the kingdom’s people.

Back in 1993, we wondered why nobody was complaining about the “wise” advice provided in the financial world. To expose what was wrong with convention, we started a print newsletter (that later moved online) that we injected with a healthy dose of common-sense Foolishness.

Our mission has always been and will continue to be to educate, amuse, and enrich. We’ve taken the liberty of putting together a mission statement just for you, too: Get smart(er), make money, and have fun.

Get smart(er)

We know that most people have never formally been taught much about finance or investing. Financial advisors love to tell you that you ought to leave it in their hands – that it’s too difficult for you to make your own financial decisions. They hope you’ll be so discouraged that you will entrust your hard-earned money to them, so that they can generate nice big commissions for themselves. They tell you to let them pick the complex investment-linked insurance, or the fund you know nothing about.

Obviously, we think that’s ridiculous. The harsh reality is that only one person has your best interests at heart — you. Our job is to show you how to take control of your own financial life so you can make confident, well-informed decisions about every dollar that you earn, whether you’re saving it, spending it, paying it back, or making it grow.

Make money

Almost everything in Fooldom is here to fulfill this part of your mission. And you’ve found the exact right place to start: The next 11 steps of our 13 Steps to Investing Foolishly will help you along the way.

In this series of articles, we lay out a systematic approach to investing that should benefit novice and seasoned investors alike. We cover almost every money situation you can imagine — paying off debt, finding no-brainer ways to save, exactly what accounts you should use to invest, smart asset allocation, finding the right investing strategy for you, and even the pitfalls you should avoid.

But, of course, our job is not complete unless you have some fun along the way.

Have fun

Back in 1994, we hyped a fictional penny share called Zeigletics on the Prodigy discussion boards (one of the Internet’s first “chat rooms”). “Zeigletics” manufactured “linked sewage disposal systems for the central African nation of Chad.” It literally transported excrement.

Our aim was to “out” the penny share hype-sters who were abusing the money discussion boards. Their electronic pyramid scheme — pumping tiny, thinly traded shares to get other investors to load up so they could dump shares at the first sign of an uptick — was not just harmful to investors, but it also degraded the real conversations people were having.

So we fought them the only way we know how: We tried to kill them with humor.

A few posts were all it took to get investors excitedly looking to buy shares on the Halifax Stock Exchange (which also doesn’t exist). Many of the hype-sters were duped, and they were furious at our little joke. The weekend project — our first April Fool’s Day prank — landed us a spot in the Wall Street Journal and introduced Foolishness to Wall Street and Main Street. But the real triumph wasn’t the press attention or the prank — it was the amazing thing that we witnessed during the weekend of our Zeigletics gag: People started playing along with the joke.

We’re all Fools

The investors we had come to know by their screen names joined the gag, hyping Zeigletics, hinting at their “inside information,” and bragging about their “amazing returns” investing in the fictional sewage disposal outfit in Chad.

Zeigletics showed us what a group of like-minded individual investors could accomplish by banding together. Even better, it created a bona-fide Foolish community where honesty, optimism, teamwork, and innovation thrived. That’s right, pretty soon we noticed that people were identifying themselves as Fools — just like us. A movement had begun.

And now, a hot penny share

Just kidding!

We hope that we’ve made a strong case for Foolishness — and that you’re ready to join us on this journey to financial security.

Like you, we’re in this for the long haul. So let’s have a blast every step of the way.

Without further ado, let’s get smarter, make money, and have some fun, Fool!