This week marks my ninth year writing The Reformed Broker blog.
When I started in November 2008, I never could have imagined where this thing would lead. Now I can’t imagine my life without having done this. Everything I’ve managed to build and all of my colleagues, new friends and opportunities have sprung from that one afternoon, lying on the couch, and that initial spark of inspiration. I don’t know where it came from but something inside of me said, “You need to write. You need to start saying some of the things you’re thinking out loud.
And so I did. It cost me thirteen dollars to buy the domain name and a few minutes get my wordpress account set up.
That one moment changed the course of my life. I was going nowhere, with no money in the bank and no plan whatsoever to build a life for myself. I was in a rut, frustrated and watching the global economy collapse all around me. A two year old daughter, another kid on the way, an job at an imploding brokerage firm, a mortgage, and zero prospects for anything better.
Until I decided to try something new.
That one fateful decision and thousands of posts later…
It’s led to a career in professional wealth management, a regular gig starring on the best show on financial television, almost a million Twitter followers and the fourth fastest growing investment advisory firm in America.
It’s my American Dream. But I haven’t done it alone.
Beethoven premiered his Ninth Symphony in the spring of 1824 in Vienna. He had assembled his largest ever group of musicians to perform it, including both the Kärntnertor house orchestra and the Vienna Music Society, using amateurs to fill in where needed. It was also the first major symphony by any composer to feature human voices in addition to the instruments.
Most of what I do here on the blog is me building on the voices of others. Using the charts and data and insights and links of the people I read and follow to make larger points. I combine the talents of many others to produce my symphony every day. Professionals and amateurs, technicians and economists, traders and investors, journalists and researchers; everyone playing their part as they’re conscripted into my orchestra of thought and feeling.
I’m not always at my best conducting it, but you’ve given me an E for Effort on many occasions and for that I’m truly grateful.
The night of Beethoven’s big performance, his colleagues insisted that he not conduct the piece himself. Completely deaf, he had botched a performance of an earlier opera’s dress rehearsal and no one wanted to see that happen again, especially not with such an incredible work of art, on such an important stage. So his co-conductor instructed the musicians to ignore the master as he waved his arms before an orchestra he couldn’t actually hear. By the end of the performance, with Beethoven still gesticulating and turning pages, the lead soprano had to come over, put her arm around him and turn him to face his audience.
Five standing ovations, wild applause and their hands in the air to show him their utter jubilation and approval.
I don’t know when someone will put their arm around me to tell me the symphony is over. I like to think that my work here on TRB and in my career is still in its second movement. I have no plans to put down my baton and I still get goosebumps at the swelling of the strings, the thunder of the timpani, the heraldic majesty of the horns – I never want to lose this feeling. Discovering new ways of looking at markets, fresh ideas for investment management, innovations in a game as old as time – this daily endeavor is in my blood now.
The lines between the blogging, the investing and the living of my life were blurring, but now they no longer exist. And for that, my appreciation for you, the audience, knows no bounds. The only way I can express it is to keep going and doing my best to earn your attention, your time and your feedback.
The choral part of the Ninth comes from the German poet von Schiller’s 1785 ‘Ode To Joy’, celebrating the achievements of mankind…
Gladly, like the heavenly bodies
Which He sent on their courses
Through the splendor of the firmament;
Thus, brothers, you should run your race,
Like a hero going to victory!
You millions, I embrace you.
This kiss is for all the world!
This post is for all the readers, the fans and friends, the peers whose work I liberally borrow from, the detractors who force me to do better and the incredible cast of characters who’ve embraced our way of investing and joined the gang. Thanks for everything over these nine years. I love you all. – JB