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One Year Of Feeding The Beast

This blog is one year old today, which seems like a good point to reflect about what we are doing here and why we are doing it.

First, a few acknowledgments are in order. I am not quite sure what I expected when I launched this thing, but what I created is an every-business-day opinion column in which I (or occasionally one of my colleagues) try to have something worthwhile to say. I suppose I do this better on some days than on others; without a lot of help I would seldom come close. (“Feeding the beast” is my catch-phrase for the need to continually refill the commentary pipeline.)

Most of the help thus far has come from Eliza Snelling, an administrative associate at Palisades Hudson. If you walk into our Scarsdale office or call any of our office phones (they are all answered in Scarsdale) you might think Eliza’s title is “receptionist,” but she does far more than answer calls, receive deliveries and greet visitors. Eliza is an excellent researcher, writer and editor. She has produced the first draft of many posts and edited all of my writing. The sheer volume of this job would have swamped me a long time ago were it not for her help.

Eliza is leaving us next month to begin a graduate program in fiction writing. She is at the very start of her career, and I am sure we will hear more about her in the years to come. Eliza has made a lasting mark on our organization and we wish her well in everything she undertakes.

About 35 to 45 people typically view a column within the first two days after it is posted. I had hoped that number would at least be in the triple digits by now. I need to do a better job of making the feature more visible, particularly on social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. That’s a project for this summer. I very much appreciate the folks who tune in regularly to what one friend and client calls my “daily rant.” I especially like it when you forward a column to somebody else who might be interested.

When I look back at items that we posted several months ago, I often find that many more people have found them in the interim. My December 30 opus, “Look Mom — I’m a Gay Republican Now,” has had well over 400 views. The shelf life has been a little better than I expected.

One final surprise has been the scarcity of comments on our posts. Most receive none at all. The most we have ever logged has been two comments, which has happened a few times. I expected this feature to be more of a two-way street than it has been thus far. Of course, we don’t want the flame wars that are common on unmoderated websites, which is why all of our postings are vetted first by Eliza.

A major goal in launching the blog was to let us spot and discuss issues as they emerge. We have had some success. I am particularly proud of Jonathan Bergman’s December 23 column highlighting the Greek debt problem months before it turned into a stick of global financial dynamite.

Another goal was to have a channel to reach people when major news is breaking. I think it is helpful to quickly share our thoughts about developments like the suspension of the estate tax or the rollout of the European financial bailout package. These were two instances in which we immediately produced columns for publication the next morning.

I have often said that, as financial advisers, we owe clients our best thoughts. We are never going to be perfect, and we don’t have a crystal ball to predict the future, but we should consider as much information as we can when we form our opinions, and we should be open-minded enough to adapt when new facts come to light.

This column is one way we try to share our best thoughts with anyone who cares what we think. On our good days we can be informative, insightful and sometimes even entertaining. We’ll do our best to deliver that sort of intellectual nourishment as often as we can. This beast is always hungry.

Larry M. Elkin is the founder and president of Palisades Hudson, and is based out of Palisades Hudson’s Fort Lauderdale, Florida headquarters. He wrote several of the chapters in the firm’s book, Looking Ahead: Life, Family, Wealth and Business After 55. His contributions include Chapter 1, “Looking Ahead When Youth Is Behind Us” and Chapter 4, “The Family Business."

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One Response to "One Year Of Feeding The Beast"

  • Mike Sheldrick
    June 2, 2010 - 11:49 am

    I am glad the beast is always hungry. I receive between 350 and 450 e-mails a day, of which I open perhaps three-quarters, and read far less. But around 11 AM each day comes my MANDATORY BREAK – to read your Commentary. Insightful, humorous, direct and often able to unearth a point of view I had not yet considered, your blog has been a great companion. Although I have added my comments on only a few occasions, you may be sure that I have smiled and growled along with you – and sometimes in opposition – on many, many an occasion.