Every night, Jim Cramer goes on "Mad Money" with the mission to help people become better investors. In the past 11 years of the show, the evolution of that mission has transformed to match the surrounding environment.
The show first began as an outgrowth of Cramer's radio show called "Real Money." At that time, people were craving specific investment ideas. Everything changed when the Great Recession hit investors, shifting the way they view the market.
During that time, the downturn ravaged many big companies, especially financial companies, while there was a dramatic decline in economic activity.
"That era changed things, and it changed me. It changed the show," Cramer said.
The show is no longer about just giving stock ideas, because in Cramer's opinion that is not enough anymore. In fact, he now deliberately has minimized highlighting stock ideas. He would rather an investor be taught to understand the process and be able to pick stocks for themselves.
"Ever since we changed the show, we have tried to leave behind so-called new ideas or the hot ideas, and instead tried to give you themes that allow you to invest in more fertile sectors versus others, themes that I hope I can make come alive so you can do the homework on them," Cramer added.
Ultimately, Cramer believes that stocks can be one of the greatest investment vehicles out there. They represent the sum progress of a business and the prospects for that business going forward. They can also share that wealth with shareholders and be very rewarding.
Cramer wants investors to go along for the ride with stocks, but that means doing it in a responsible way. That is why he always suggests an index fund as a safe way to invest.
"The show has changed over time from one where we pick stocks for you, to one where we educate you about stocks so you can understand why an index fund might be worth investing in," Cramer said.