Chamberlain is 18 years old and dropped out of high school to start a YouTube
channel. Her self-imposed job is to spend over 20 hours each week creating one
10 to 15-minute YouTube video, and the rest of her time promoting it. Her
topics are eclectic, everything from sewing a dress to baking cupcakes. She
presents herself as a bit of a ditz, but she is anything but.
to reports, Emma has upwards of 8 million viewers. No one knows exactly how
much she earns; speculation ranges from $120,000 to $2 million a year. But
there's no indication that she began doing it for the money. She had this urge
to create that I well recognize, even if spending all that time in front of a
screen editing and formatting her videos in 10+ hour sessions has given her
chronic back pain. The secret to her success is that she does it week after week,
with the humor of a stand-up comic and the technical proficiency of an internet
nerd. Seehttps://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/09/ style/emma-chamberlain-youtube.html.
Emma is my new hero.
don't pretend to be in Emma's league. Still, this is my 52nd consecutive weekly
piece for Broke-and-Broker, so I flatter myself that she and I are at least
denizens of the same community.
anniversary seems the appropriate time to look back and take stock. I began
this column -- I hate the word "blog" -- because my friend and publisher, Bill
Singer, had been urging me to it. I long hesitated because I knew if I started,
I would need to commit to it for a long term to gain an audience. I'm rather
proud of myself for having met that commitment, producing these essays each
week without fail, for a year. After 70,000 words, they could be a small book. The
site statistics suggest about 4,000 of you read it each week. As I say, not in
Emma's league; but let's face it, her videos are fun. Thank you for deploying a few minutes of your Thursdays to reading
the column. I hope your time has been, now and then, repaid.
I started this, I didn't quite know where I'd end up. I thought I would simply
write short essays in my field, securities and finance law, commenting on
recent events that I found interesting. I didn't want to create yet another
newsletter merely reporting those events. There are already plenty of those, and
good ones, far beyond my poor power to add or detract, including not least the
rest of Broke and Broker and its sister site, Securities Industry Commentator.
Instead, I hoped I might say something original and maybe even memorable, something
better than might be found in that deep muck of shallow thinking that is the Twitterverse.
But I didn't know how. I'd published a fair number of articles in my time, but
they all took a lot of time and were seldom under strict deadlines. This was
different. I aimed to emulate some of my favorite print columnists. I didn't
know how they did it, and figured the best way to learn was simply to jump into
the deep end and try it myself. I now understand why they get paid a full-time
salary for writing "only" a couple thousand words a week.
writer has to face the blank page. A dedicated columnist has to stare it down
anew every week. Each time is a leap of faith. I never know exactly how the
next column will start, much less end. Then, one or a couple of things catch my
eye or get me thinking. Thoughts rattle around and jog other thoughts, some
new, some remembered. A stew of ideas soon emerges, often a chaos that I hope
will coalesce around something tangible as the deadline looms. And it
inevitably does, but by an alchemy I can't explain. A news report fits here, a
remembered quotation fits there, a lyric from an old song seems oddly apropos. A
first draft emerges, which sucks, as all first drafts do. Rewrite. A little
better, but still lame. More rewriting, until the deadline strikes, and then it's
done with, so far as I'm concerned. Out of time to make it better, it is what
it is and it's off into the ether.
I describe it, it seems a torture, which begs the question, why do it? Certainly
not to garner business, at least not directly. I could be a more effective
rainmaker by hosting a few lunches and dinners, or speaking at a few more
conferences, with the time I spend on the column. No, I think I write these
pieces for a more important reason.
Zinsser, in his book Writing to Learn,
explores writing as the way to understand something. Thoughts can only cohere
when we wrestle them to a page and pin them down with words. We all have ideas
rattling in our heads. Most are just brain-droppings, and woe to us if we
repeat them, or God forbid, act on them. Eastern meditation tries to tame those
wild thoughts, to calm them and permit us to observe them objectively and direct
them to positive action. Because we are at bottom creatures of action; thoughts
are mostly vain unless some action comes of them.
our thoughts, imposing order on them, is therefore vital. I've written these
pieces to bring order to the random thoughts in my head that sprout from more
random events of the world I live in. I have never lacked a subject. That
surprises me, but it shouldn't. The universe burps up chance events all the
time, constantly offering opportunities for good or ill. Writing these pieces
has made me more appreciate those bubblings. I write these columns not for
money or respect, but as a meditation.
essays, then, are me thinking out loud, trying to make my thoughts
companionable. There's no guarantee that I have succeeded to anyone else's
satisfaction, or even my own for very long. All writers take that risk. I can
only hope these offerings have pleased some of you, some of the time. As with
everything, some are more durable than others. I take some solace from knowing
that every hall-of-fame batter struck out most of the time, and that with time most
of them have been forgotten anyway. Life is ephemeral; you learn to live with
am taking the month of August off from writing the column. I'll spend part of
that time rereading what I've written. I'm curious which of my past year's views
I still agree with. All conclusions are inherently tentative, because none of
us is omniscient. Opinions should change as life and the world changes, which
they always do. We waste time holding back that tide. Send a train of thought
barreling down one fork and you arrive at a terminal entirely inconsistent to
the one you would have reached by the other fork. If you go down both forks at
the same time -- which is what real thinking entails -- sooner or later you'll
contradict yourself. It's ok. I -- and you too -- contain multitudes.
I hope I don't find myself preaching any foolish consistencies. Benjamin
Franklin said in signing the Constitution that he had lived long enough to
doubt his own infallibility. Me too. The Civil War taught Justice Oliver
Wendell Holmes the hard way that being too sure of yourself is dangerous, that
certitude leads to violence. "When a man knows that he knows," he wrote, "persecution
comes easy. It is as well that some of us don't know that we know anything."
I'm with him, as I am with Groucho Marx, who memorably proclaimed, "Those are
my principles, and if you don't like them . . . well, I have others."
August. I'm gonna bet that for the next few weeks, "nothin's gonna come my way,
nothin's gonna change, everything's gonna remain the same." Till September,
then, everyone stay cool.
Aegis Frumento is a partner of Stern Tannenbaum & Bell, and co-heads the firm's Financial Markets Practice. Mr. Frumento represents persons and businesses in all aspects of commercial, corporate and securities matters and dispute resolution (including trials and arbitrations); SEC and FINRA regulated firms and persons on regulatory compliance issues and in SEC and FINRA enforcement investigations and proceedings; and senior executives of public corporations personal securities law and corporate governance matters. Mr. Frumento also represents clients in forming and registering broker-dealers and registered investment advisers, in developing compliance policies, procedures and controls, and in adopting proper disclosure documents. Those now include industry professionals looking to adapt blockchain technologies to finance and financial market enterprises.
Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Frumento was a managing director of Citigroup and Morgan Stanley, a partner and the head of the financial markets group of Duane Morris LLP, and the managing partner of Singer Frumento LLP.
He graduated from Harvard College in 1976 and New York University School of Law in 1979. Mr. Frumento is a frequent author and speaker on securities law issues, and is often quoted in the media on current securities law developments.
NOTE: The views expressed in this Guest Blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of BrokeAndBroker.com Blog.
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