“How do you have so much time to blog?”
This is the question I get asked more than any other and I get it constantly. Via email, via Twitter, in real life, in the comment section below a post, on the phone, in meetings, at the bar, at dinner, at my kid’s soccer practice, in more emails and on and on.
I’m going to address this topic today for the first, last and only time. For all other inquiries on the subject, I’ll simply be directing people back to this post. The short answer is that I have absolutely no time – to blog or anything else. But I do it anyway and the “so much time” comes from all of the things I choose not to do.
As I write this post, I am on a westbound train, soaking wet from standing on the platform in the rain. It is pitch black outside but I’ve been up for two hours already, reading and writing. I am wedged next to a 400 pound woman who is playing brickbreaker on her phone with the sausage fingers that have unwrapped more Chipwiches in her time than there are stars in the sky. On the other side of me is a middle-aged lawyer who is fast asleep with the NY Daily News in his lap and a pot-bellied accountant sitting next to him who is trying to steal glances at the sports page. As I type on my Macbook Pro, the two dozen other inhabitants of my train car (the ones who aren’t asleep) are glancing over at me. Perhaps my typing is too percussive and it is irritating them. Perhaps they recognize me from around town or from TV.
Fuck ‘em, I’ve got things to do.
What you need to understand about my blogging is the following…
Blogging is essential to my career; before the blog, I was a jerkoff retail stockbroker. I was always smart but, man, I didn’t know a goddamn thing about anything. I only knew the stock I was pitching that particular day and how to get people to buy it. That part of my career is over. Now I must know everything there is to know about why and how markets are moving so that I can effectively manage allocation and risk for my customers.
Writing the blog has forced me to learn the global macro picture and become an asset class maven from the top-down and the bottom-up. I read (and hopefully understand) more on a daily basis than 99% of the world. I do two daily linkfests and share between 15 and 25 links a day with you. Try and fathom how many articles and posts I must wade through to get to those essential reads. You have no idea. I have no intern or assistant for this, everything I link to I’ve consumed personally and have deemed it worthy of sharing with you.
Reading is only part of the equation, though. it is in the writing that I discover what I actually think. It is in the writing and the communicating of ideas and concepts that they truly become mine. This is a cognitive learning thing that is very widely understood in the education world. When I’m blogging there are two things that are happening – you, the reader, are being exposed to something I think might be important and I, the writer, am crystallizing my own beliefs and understanding of the topic at hand.
The other thing to keep in mind is that by blogging, I am able to not do much of what a typical financial advisor spends his or her time on. Go ask the typical FA to be truthful with you about how they spend their time each day. You will learn that somewhere between 30% and 50% of an investment professional’s time is spent drumming up new clients and business. I spent 14 years humping the phones, first for a senior broker as a college student during my summers, then as a broker building a book (and then another book and then another book and then another book – keep in mind, it’s been one long secular bear market since my career began).
I no longer prospect for new customers, by phone or any other means. I prefer to spend my days getting smarter and to do so in such a way that the clients find their way to me. It’s working. So the things your FA has to do, I don’t anymore. These include the following:
- Networking Breakfasts
- Mass Mailings
- Email Blasts
- Networking Lunches
- Pretending to be involved in some charity so I can sidle up to rich people
- Working my “centers of influence” like accountants and attorneys and interior decorators or whatever
- Handing out business cards at my kids’ PTA meetings
- Networking dinners
- Hitting up my doctor for an account
- Networking cocktail parties
- Buying ad space in magazines or local newspapers
- Networking brunches (you’d have to shoot me in the face first)
I have also stopped doing a lot of things that I’ve learned are a waste of time during the day, like reading brokerage firm sell-side research on stocks, listening to company conference calls, watching 90% of financial television, going to 90% of brokerage-sponsored conferences, letting people pitch me investment banking deals and on and on.
In my personal life, you should also know that I am in zero fantasy football leagues while my friends are in two or three each. Instead of playing golf this summer, I wrote a book – I sat around the house in my pajamas writing and researching while everyone else was at the beach, I came home from work and went back out to the library to author and edit while your financial advisor was on fucking Facebook looking up his ex-girlfriends.
The train is arriving at Penn Station. I will now walk 20 blocks through the rain to my day job, which is helping people invest and plan for their financial future. I manage both assets and emotions for people. I care to the point that it hurts. And I make it my daily mission to know as much as I can so that I can be as effective as I can for my clients. Blogging is not a side gig, it is the method by which I’m becoming what I want to become for myself and for those I’m responsible to.
And when the day is done, I’ll be back on an eastbound train. And I’ll be blogging – you can set your watch to that, pal.
The correct question is not how can I find the time to blog, rather, it’s how could I not?