Josh Brown

By David Snowball

How I structure my day and set my rules so as to be maximally informed and minimally assaulted by nonsense:

First of all, what I said at Abnormal Returns last week is the absolute gospel:

Books > Articles
Meetings > Blog Posts
Conferences > Twitter

Second, each daypart should involve some sort of specific type of media consumption – just like we eat certain types of meals at certain times. What works for me:

  1. Morning starts with my Feedly, wherein I cycle through everything published from 8pm until roughly 7am, at which time I begin curating my Hot Links post. This will often capture the print media’s stories, which hit overnight to coincide with newspaper publishing as well as the latest hilarity from Europe / Asia. I supplement Feedly first thing in the morning with (aka Streeteye), which gives me the most-shared links from British Twitter (will usually feature a heavy dose of Telegraph and FT stories) as well as all the stuff that was popular with influential people overnight. 
  2. From 9am til 12noon I’m usually too busy running my practice, dealing with employees and clients, to be reading anything, which is a shame because the best financial and market bloggers usually publish their best stuff of the day in that window. Sometimes I’ll catch some interesting links off of Tweetdeck, which I keep open on my screen while multi-tasking – but it’s not easy to do this most days.  
  3. Instapaper is a great tool for me – I have a button for it on my iPad and my Chrome browser on each desktop / laptop I use. This let’s me save stuff I come upon for later. 
  4. I do a TV show four days a week from 12 til 1. I’m not reading anything here either for the most part, it’s breaking news and “what’s moving the markets today” that I’m typically involved with during this time.
  5. Thank God that by the time I get back to my office around 1:30pm ET, the daily Abnormal Returns linkfest is usually up. I’ll scan the links and try to click on between 5 and 7 of them – hopefully read most or all of them before the afternoon’s activities kick in.
  6. You’ll notice, at no time do I ever visit the home page of a blog or media company’s site. I rely heavily on headline scanning / curation / Twitter. You’ll also notice I don’t mention radio or TV as a part of consumption. This is deliberate. I don’t have time for the format in real-time as it requires sitting through lots of filler. Instead, I’ll try to stay attuned to appearances by specific guests and then grab the video itself. If Howard Marks or Jeff Gundlach or Cliff Asness or Warren Buffett give an interview on CNBC or Bloomberg, I want to watch it. If there’s a strategist on I care about or someone says something provocative, I figure Twitter will surface the video and circulate it. Thankfully, financial television content can be consumed a la carte and on our own time these days. We don’t have a single TV set in our offices. 
  7. Nighttime is published books for me and a stray story or two that I hadn’t gotten to from either my own Hot Links post that morning or from somewhere else like AR, or Barry’s reads list at Bloomberg View or wherever else. I’ve committed to reading more books this year than I had last year and so far I’m on pace. I aim to read a non-finance book for every finance book, for the sake of staying well-rounded and cultured. 
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About David Snowball

David Snowball, PhD (Massachusetts). Cofounder, lead writer. David is a Professor of Communication Studies at Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois, a nationally-recognized college of the liberal arts and sciences, founded in 1860. For a quarter century, David competed in academic debate and coached college debate teams to over 1500 individual victories and 50 tournament championships. When he retired from that research-intensive endeavor, his interest turned to researching fund investing and fund communication strategies. He served as the closing moderator of Brill’s Mutual Funds Interactive (a Forbes “Best of the Web” site), was the Senior Fund Analyst at FundAlarm and author of over 120 fund profiles. David lives in Davenport, Iowa, and spends an amazing amount of time ferrying his son, Will, to baseball tryouts, baseball lessons, baseball practices, baseball games … and social gatherings with young ladies who seem unnervingly interested in him.