Interview With Abnormal Returns Founder Tadas Viskanta

abnormal returnsIn line with our goal to offer up interviews and conversations with the highest quality niche players in the financial community, we are proud (and excited) to share our latest exclusive interview with Tadas Viskanta, Founder and Editor of Abnormal Returns. A pillar in curation, Tadas’ website is a financial blog that collects and curates thousands of worthy and timely articles. In short, it is a filter of the best information gathered from the financial blogosphere, presented in an efficient and relevant manner to readers.

Tadas is also the author of the well-received book: Abnormal Returns: Winning Strategies from the Frontlines of the Investment Blogosphere* which culls lessons learned from his time blogging.

That said, we are long-time fans of Tadas’ work and quality. In the interview below, we ask Tadas for insight into his trials and tribulations as a blogger, for his thoughts on the recent state of the markets, and for some coming attractions in the life of this always busy investor.

Tadas’ blog can be found here:

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Tadas can be found on Twitter under @abnormalreturns

Without further adieu, here is our one on one with Tadas.  Enjoy.

Alex Salomon:  First off, a little bit about your education and how you got the bug for Finance… what made you decide to go for an MBA and drew you to the financial world? Why was that important to you?

Tadas Viskanta:  I talk about in the book how investing is the last “liberal art.” Investing encompasses many different fields and interests of mine. I would guess that I am in the minority in that regard. Most Americans find having to deal with their investments as another unwanted chore. Whether we want to or not it is an adult responsibility that we all have to face over time.

Alex:  How did you make the transition from investor to published writer & serial blogger? 

tadas viskanta, abnormal returnsTadas:  They really are the same thing. My interests as an investor directly inform what I write on the blog. I have never claimed that Abnormal Returns was anything other than what one guy thinks is interesting in the world of finance and investing. Apparently a lot of other people find what I link to of interest as well. I am sure a careful reading of the blog would show some subtle shifts over time on things that I find worthy of passing along. Tadas Viskanta pictured at right.

Alex:  Do you still invest actively? How would you define your investment style? 

Tadas:  I have increasingly become more minimalist in my investing. Like anyone else who has been investing for more than a couple of years you try out different things, keep those that fit with your interests and personality, and discard those that no longer fit. As I have gotten older the idea of sitting in front of screen watching tick-by-tick data no longer holds any appeal. So less trading and having a longer time horizon, which beneficially also frees up time to blog and write.

Alex:  How long did it take you to create and release your book, “Abnormal Returns”? Also, what mattered to you about writing it?

Tadas:  Once the contract was signed it was six months of pretty disciplined writing. The book is in large part drawn from my blogging so I didn’t have to do too much additional research. I was able to take ideas that I had been writing about over time and pull them together and expand on them. As opposed to most books that are about one big idea, the Abnormal Returns book is really about a whole bunch of different ideas that have coalesced over time.

I had wanted to write a book for some time and tried a number of years earlier to get a publisher to pick up a book idea I had on the hedge fund industry. So when the opportunity arose after having blogged for awhile I jumped at the chance. As far as we have come in the social media age I still think it matters to writers and many readers that you are able to have the wherewithal to start and finish a book-length product.

Alex:  Do you have another book or publication in the works?

Tadas:  I would love to say I have a great idea for another book. In the year or so since the book was published I find myself continuing to reference it in blog posts. This allows me to steal my own quotes! More importantly it tells me that the ideas I talked about the in book are still relevant today. So when I start running out opportunities to plagiarize myself I will think about writing another book.

Alex:  Your biggest success, and its lesson?

Tadas:  In a certain sense the blog is my biggest success. It has broadened my horizons and allowed me to meet people and do things that would not have been possible before. The real lesson I draw from this is that you have to put your work out there and just keep grinding. Doing anything well requires a great deal of hard work. There are very few overnight successes in any field. The most interesting figures are those that have kept at despite not seeing initial recognition of their work.

Alex:  You seem to have had an interest in Finance for most of your life: what advice would you give young investors, in their 20’s, to start off the right way?

Tadas:  The best thing about starting off relatively early in finance and investing is that it allows you to make mistakes while the stakes are relatively low. If you can learn the right lessons from these mistakes you will be far better prepared when the financial and emotional stakes are much higher. That is in part why I am in favor of investors starting off investing however small their account might be so that they can build up their experiential capital. Some of the saddest stories I read are when people make big investing mistakes when they don’t have the time or resources to bounce back from them.

Alex:  We have to ask: what are your current thoughts about the market, regardless of the asset class?

Tadas:  Abnormal Returns is a forecast-free blog so I will abstain from making any forecasts here. However just take a step back and think about what has occurred in the past five or six years. We have seen the deflation of a housing bubble, a near global financial collapse, unprecedented central bank intervention, near zero interest rates and a subsequent recovery in risk assets. I wouldn’t mind a return to normalcy where investors can focus on companies and trends and less on the macro picture.

Alex:  Do you get reader feedback on their own abnormal returns and inspiring examples?

Tadas:  I don’t get a lot of success stories related back to me. The most encouraging e-mails I get are from people who have made Abnormal Returns a part of their daily routine. Part of that is simply sticking around for awhile but I hope part of it is that there is some genuine value-added as well.

A special thanks to Tadas for sharing his time and thoughts with our readers. We wish nothing but continued success for Tadas and his entrepreneurial pursuits.  Thank you for reading.