Monday, April 24, 2006


I finished reading a biography on Fischer Black (co-creator of the Black-Scholes option pricing formula, among other things) awhile ago and one of the things that struck me was his detailed organizational skills. I lack in this department and I'm thinking of ways on how to get things organized. While parts of my room seem like a mess, it's actually in an organized-chaos environment. Like my two foot tall stack of reading materials. Nothing there is organized, but I know everything that makes up the pile (some old WSJournals, some Barrons, a few trading magazines, and a few back issues of Journal of Finance).

Black had an elaborate system to organize all the information he came across. I want to start making up a similar type system. He first had a huge cabinet with information he read and I'm fairly certain he even cross-categorized the data. So whenever he came across a particular subject, he would be able to look in his system and find a card that had some available info, what papers he read that dealt with the subject, as well as the people who knew more about the subject.
He later moved his system on to a computer in order to speed things up and he was able to save a lot more information. I remember a somewhat funny thing about him that goes along with his organization skills. He would always carry a small notepad with him (good idea) and let's say he was talking to someone about options. If that person said something very interesting, Black would stop him in mid sentence and write down what the person just said! Sometimes he would even ask for the person to repeat themselves.

I definitely do not want to go to that extreme, but I am starting up a digital catalog for finance. At work I can "print" out articles in pdf format so I have the ability to save just about anything as a pdf. Last week I realized that I come across a vast amount of information. For instance in one day I check about four different finance sites that all have a few new articles. So far that's easy to come up with. Then there's the Wall Street Journal, which has a ton of info. Right now I read the stories that interest me and skim the rest of the headlines, but I want to start reading the whole thing. On Monday's I have Barron's to go through. Then there are the stocks I track. These include the ones in my portfolio as well as others. Some of the software I use at work combines all the major news sources so if I'm watching a big company this can amount to many stories to get through or skim the headlines. I'm spending all this time reading, but I have to work on saving the information I want to keep.
Information is key. The more information you know, the better story you can tell. Why is this stock acting one way? Well maybe it's because of this article I read in Business Week that mentioned how demand was picking up, an maybe demand was picking up because of this article I read on Reuters that highlighted strength in a particular sector. This is just an example, but stories are related. It's best to put the key points of these stories together, and then you will have the bigger picture.

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