This has been a lot of fun. This has been a lot of work. This has been a “labor of love.”
When I wrote for RealMoney, I would sometimes say to my editor Gretchen, “Here’s another labor of love piece,” to which she would give a hearty response, because she liked editing me. She told me she always learned a lot from me. I liked working with her a lot.
Unlike some writers at RealMoney, I would sometimes troll through the comments on Cramer’s blog. Sometimes I would defend him, at minimum I would try to explain him.
At the time, there were some financial blogs that I liked a lot — Jeff Miller, Barry Ritholtz, Roger Nusbaum, Steven Randy Waldman, Eddy Elfenbein, Alea… I know there are more, but I can’t remember now. I resisted starting a blog for 1-2 years, because I felt RealMoney was my blog. I especially liked participating in the Columnist’s Conversation. (Note: if RealMoney would like to invite me back, I am open to the idea. That said, the CFA Institute has encouraged me to blog for them as well — just don’t know how much content I can produce, because everyone wants original content.)
But I realized that RealMoney and I had different goals, and in talking with some of those that commented at Cramer’s blog, I decided to launch Aleph Blog. Why call it Aleph Blog? Many reasons, as noted in the link, but part of the fun was getting to read Borges, who I had not previously read.
When I launched Aleph Blog, I had no idea what I was getting into, and I did not intend on leaving RealMoney. I liked the editorial freedom, though, and liked the broader interaction with many voices across the internet, rather than only RealMoney columnists, good as they were. I did research when I started, and so I created my own domain, signed up with Seeking Alpha, and launched just prior to the mini-crisis where the Chinese stock market crashed in Shanghai. When that happened, I wrote a popular piece that Seeking Alpha picked up that my friend Cody Willard promoted as well.
And off we went! A grand experiment, allowing me to spread my wings more wide than at RealMoney. My goal was to do a brain dump of areas where I thought I had competence. I didn’t want to be like many bloggers where over 50% of their post is quoting others — I wanted to write from my heart, expressing my views on a wide number of topics relating to economics, finance and investment, from my unusual framework, which is Evangelical Christian, mostly libertarian (but not for financials), actuarial, value investor, doubting neoclassical economics and modern portfolio theory.
I was recently at a Baltimore CFA Society meeting, when a few people came up to me telling me how much they liked my blog. Some quoted to me recent pieces I had written. This was new; I was surprised. I have never had local people come to me and say that. Yes, stats for Maryland on my blog are above average, but my work helping the local CFA Society always seemed to be detached from other things that I do. My worlds are merging, maybe.
My worlds are also merging from the many evangelical Christians who write to me. This is a blog written by a Christian, not a Christian blog. I’m here to serve everyone, but my views on ethics will color all that I write.
At the beginning, I tried focused linkfests, where I drew together posts on a hot topic, and narrated them to give my thoughts. Those were a lot of work. Today, my linkfests occur through Twitter.
Twitter: it took me even more pain to decide to do Twitter. Given that my blogging is more long-form than most — why should I do Twitter?! My answer for today is simple: to have good conversations, and push good content to readers. And, for those who don’t do Twitter, they can read my weekly sorted tweets. I got the idea from History Squared, a newer blog that I like. Sorting the tweets makes them more useful to readers, so if it takes half an hour to do so each week, it is worth it.
But now I have more followers on Twitter than on RSS. 6000 vs 5300. I prefer RSS because people see the whole post, but I understand how the lower bandwidth on Twitter allows people to choose what attracts them. Twitter makes us all epigram writers in AOL-ese. It is challenging to do, but I like a good challenge.
I’ve written a number of series that have been significant:
- The Rules
- Education of a Corporate Bond Manager
- Flavors of Insurance
- A Day in the Life of John Davidson
I’m sure there are more, but I can’t think of them now. At the same Baltimore CFA Society meeting as mentioned before, one person asked me, “How do you write about the wide variety of topics that you do?”
Part of it is my varied career, and educational background. I have worked in a large number of areas, and have not been afraid to branch out and try things slightly outside my grasp. You only learn when you fail. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve failed a lot.
If you don’t take reasonable chances, you won’t grow. Look for opportunities to expand your abilities — who can tell where you will go?! Opportunities go to those who are there, grab hold of them, and win. If you don’t try, you won’t win.
I know that my blog is an acquired taste, and best for professionals and advanced amateurs. If you are a beginner, best you should focus on my personal finance category.
My goal has been to give something back to my readers. I’ve had an interesting career, with many unusual and entertaining experiences. I don’t have to have more fame or clients. I enjoy relating the truths of the markets to others, whether they are beautiful or ugly.
To my readers: I don’t know if I will last another thousand posts, but I appreciate that you read me, eclectic as I am. The one thing I promise: I will do my best for you, poor as that may be.
PS — I know that my views on Fed policy and economics will win me few friends, but someone has to point out that the paradigm is broken. Same for Modern Portfolio Theory….