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Just the Facts with Caleb Silver

George Grombacher April 21, 2022

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Just the Facts with Caleb Silver

On the 1,500th episode of LifeBlood: We talked about the importance of focusing on just the facts and avoiding opinion when it comes to providing answers to the biggest financial questions, the evolution of Investopedia, the responsibility that comes with massive reach, and what kind of restaurant Caleb would open, with Caleb Silver, Editor in Chief of Investopedia.  

Listen to learn the value and importance of holding loosely to strong opinions!

You can learn more about Caleb at, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Thanks, as always for listening!  If you got some value and enjoyed the show, please leave us a review wherever you listen and subscribe as well. 

You can learn more about us at LifeBlood.Live, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook or you’d like to be a guest on the show, contact us at contact@LifeBlood.Live. 

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Caleb Silver

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:00
Come on one level, this is George G. And the time is right. welcome today’s guest strong and powerful Caleb silver. Welcome, Caleb,

Caleb Silver 0:18
good to be with you. As always, George, what an honor, you are just to have so many great guests. And it’s an honor to be back. Yeah,

george grombacher 0:25
back for number 1500. Caleb was with us for Number 500 Number 1000. And now 1500. He is the editor in chief and SVP of content at Investopedia. They’re an organization striving to empower every person to feel in control of their financial future. But you already knew that about Investopedia. Caleb, tell us a little about your personal life’s more about your work and why you do what you do?

Caleb Silver 0:50
Well, I feel like I have one of the coolest jobs out there because I get to be the editor in chief of a website that 23 million people come to every month to get their questions answered. Now I don’t personally answer their questions. I’m the editor in chief and, and one of the brand representatives but I am a I am an investor too. I am an individual investor trying to be an educated investor. As the editor in chief, I want to wear that hat as the educated investor always learning. As you know, George, learning about money is a lifelong journey. So I’m always trying to wear that hat. I don’t know everything. And I’m learning along with our readers along with our listeners along with the people that follow us on social and then trying to explain it. And I spent a lot of my time on the media, whether it’s on recurring what I do with NBC News, or some of the local channels or radio or podcasts like this out there talking about what Investopedia is about what we’re seeing, because we get so many people coming to us trying to get their questions answered, but also the temperature of the markets, the temperature of the economy, but my background is, was not in this. I’m a business journalist. I’ve been doing this for 25 years in one form or another. But I started Georgia in the restaurant business at a very young age. I worked in IT for 12 years, and then was an documentarian, make a filmmaker doing environmental education and nature documentaries. And and I worked for Amnesty International for a bit doing some Docs. So my background is very different from where I ended up. But I’m so glad I ended up where I ended

george grombacher 2:18
up. Thanks. What were you doing in the restaurant business,

Caleb Silver 2:21
and bussing tables cooking, I grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is a fantastic restaurant town. And a lot of my friends, families were in that business. And there’s some terrific families that run classic restaurants there and I just grew up working there to make money, but I just loved it. Eventually, I’ll make my way back to it. But I know that’s an easy way to burn a lot of money fast, but I’m just so into service and, and the process and delivering good food to people. And I still do that today. In my home, I have a little cafe in my house here. My kids are the beneficiaries of Caleb’s kitchen.

george grombacher 2:54
I think that that’s awesome that you know, I don’t know if it’s if training grounds or proving grounds are the right term, or if there was another one. But the restaurant business is such a great way to just gain real world experience. And you get to meet people from all different walks of life and interact with all different kinds of people. And I know that I started bussing tables when I was 14 or 15 and retired as a server at age 22. I think and who knows life is a long journey home and back there at some point.

Caleb Silver 3:22
Yeah, me too. I still have dreams of serving in the restaurant and they’re not good dreams.

george grombacher 3:27
Isn’t that funny? Yeah, I totally have dreams where I’m like, I’m so far behind and the tables are mad at me. And yeah, that’s a that’s that. That’s that’s a real thing.

Caleb Silver 3:38
That’s a very real thing. The back of the restaurant in a full section and everyone’s looking at you and we’ve got two trays in your hands and you just backed up. Like up in your in total fear. And you’re like why I haven’t done that in 30 years what’s going on, but right it stays with you.

george grombacher 3:53
Yes, it is still right there. So there’s the there’s these memes and internet memes are amazing. The internet’s amazing. The memes are amazing. The structure is how it started, how it’s going. So you mentioned 23 million readers. That’s amazing. But it’s also 23 years ago is when Investopedia started.

Caleb Silver 4:12
Right? We were born in 1999 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, four very smart guys came up with this idea because the Internet stocks were popping there were more retail investors coming into the market. This was the early days of E trade and Ameritrade and Schwab discount broker, obviously it was on the scene. And financial television financial media became a mainstay of our media consumption. But these guys said, Hey, nobody understands a lot of this jargon. And you know, we got CNBC out there and we got now Bloomberg TV and CNN FM and I worked at a few of those places. But they’re talking kind of to themselves a little bit. Why don’t we create a dictionary of financial terms and explainers. And then they thought to themselves, you know, there’s this company down in Mountain View, California. They call themselves Google. They’re trying to index the internet. Maybe If we put the definitions online, they may point to them and help people answer their questions. That turned out to be a really good idea. And then they added some test prep, and how to you know, get a career in investing or trading in the finance industry series 63, the series seven exams, how to take those very smart idea at the time, they had it for about four or five years sold that eventually Forbes, Forbes had it for several years. Eventually, they sold it to a company called ValueClick, I believe, who haven’t just for a few years, and then IAC, our grandparent company, interactive Corp bought us as they acquired ValueClick years and years ago, and we’ve been in the icy family now for about eight years. But a few years ago, and this is a more detail than what folks need to know. But it’s just fascinating how things happen with a brand like ours, which is still here. 23 years George’s like 230 years in the internet, you’re required internally by a company called dotdash that you will remember and maybe some of your listeners will remember as about calm about calm was one of the big sort of search engine answer your question type sites in internet 1.0 The Times on them for a while I see bought them. And then right after that sort of the bottom fell out because Google changed its famous algorithm which it does pretty frequently. And then the executives rebirth as a bunch of different vertical sites, they went very deep because the internet is now two things are internet 2.0, Facebook and Google, it is personal, and it is deep. They said let’s go instead of travel, let’s call it tripsavvy instead of Let’s call it very well. And they grew regrew these brands as the on their own. And then they acquired us into that family. So we’re in the dotdash Family of Brands dot dash to finish the story recently acquired Meredith, the legacy publisher that’s about 102 years old, based in Des Moines. So now we are one of the biggest publishers on the internet. dotdash Meredith with about 2526 brands, and a lot of them you’ve probably heard of like people and InStyle, and food and wine and Investopedia. And the balance and very well. That’s where we’re at.

george grombacher 7:04
Amazing. That’s wild. I mean, the largest in North America. So certainly congratulations. I think I How do you think about your responsibility? And I suppose it probably hasn’t changed? You know, but how do you think about that?

Caleb Silver 7:24
We’re Investopedia. And really, for most of the sites in the dotdash family, we really think about it as answering people’s questions, right? Everyone’s got questions. A lot of people go to the internet to ask those questions, we want to make sure that we have the most responsible most expert reviewed and written articles that answer the question most directly on our site. So that’s the main way people experience Investopedia. You know, nobody’s browsing Investopedia. But me, maybe. And I don’t even do that much. I go there for a reason, just like everybody else does. Whether that’s what does EBIT da mean, or what broker? Should I sign up? If I want to start trading or investing? Or what’s the difference between a Roth IRA and a 401k? Any of those questions, we have 36,000 articles on the site. So lots of questions, lots of answers. So that’s first and foremost, clean answers, very direct, neutral, but just trying to help people get to the core of the question, and then help them take a next step. Because if you have a question like, how do I invest 10,000 bucks? Or where should I invest 10,000 bucks, you have a very serious intention, George, you want to invest? So once you’re in that article, we’re gonna give you opportunities to look around inside of a journey of articles to then say, Okay, let me look at your list of best online brokers, or let me actually understand the principles of dollar cost averaging, or, you know, buying index funds versus buying mutual funds. So we weren’t, we’re trying to help people get down that road, whether it’s investing, managing their personal finances, budgeting, saving, buying a home, starting a business, all of those questions need answers, that’s our job. My job is to make sure that we are answering those cleanly, and I’m communicating outside this site, I break the third wall of the site, and I’m out there speaking to you, and I’m speaking on television, doing my podcast, and I’m trying to create this other these other touch points with our viewers. But again, I wear that hat of the educated investor, constantly learning don’t know everything, seen some of these things happen before. How do they usually play out? What can history tell us? And what is the future telling us when we looking into some of those futures market so that’s my job. But I have the last word editorially, and the brand representative,

george grombacher 9:36
nice 36,000 articles, and you are the place where I go and or even if I if I search that that’s certainly pops up. I’m confident that you’re Cognizant exactly where you are in that search, but certainly I can echo everything you just said that that’s where I go when I need specific information. I need something answered. And I appreciate that, that that’s how you want to and are viewed and the resource that you’re providing the value that you are providing. How do you think about opinion is is? Is that part of the outreach? Or is that? Is that not part of what you make? And maybe the future will hold? Yeah,

Caleb Silver 10:19
we are deliberately trying to stay away from opinion. Why? Because it’s everywhere, George, and it’s everywhere around money. And it’s everywhere around investing, and it’s everywhere around politics. And anytime we stray in often into that lane, we get brushed back from our from our readers one way or the other is our readers are around the world have in the US. So everyone’s got a strong opinion. But the reason they come to us is not for that they want to know the answer to the question, the best cleanest answer so they can make a decision on their own. And so we deliberately stay away from that. And, you know, it’s tempting, no matter what’s going on in the world, it’s tempting to have an opinion, I have opinions. But as the editor in chief, I try to keep myself in, in this in the lane of what’s going to help people the most answer the question, they don’t really want my opinion on what stock to buy. And I wouldn’t take it either. For me, they don’t want my opinion on whether or not the President’s policies are working and the Federal Reserve’s policies are working, they want us to make sure that we’re getting to the core of the question, and that is a challenge in and of itself. But it also frees us up where we don’t really have to be weighing opinion in trying to weigh one way or the other, just just be who we are. And being who we are is, is great. And there’s not a lot of people in our space that do that.

george grombacher 11:34
Yeah, no, I appreciate that. Is that how it’s always been? Like in this 23 year period? Has it always been? This is what we’re doing? We’re not getting into opinion? or have there been times where you’ve dipped your foot in or jumped all the way in?

Caleb Silver 11:46
Yeah, I’ve I’ve dipped my foot. And I had an opinion columnist, I had a group of them covering a variety of issues early on when I started, and what I realized pretty quickly was, it’s crazy divisive. If you want a lot of reader feedback, that’s not friendly, that’s a great way to do it. And yes, it doesn’t get a lot of traffic doesn’t get a lot of eyeballs. Now even I had some well known people, I had some Pulitzer Prize winners writing for us. That doesn’t mean it’s, you know, sprinkled with the magic dust of internet traffic, and people are dying to read it. And when they see that it’s us and that its opinion, I don’t think that wraps very well with them. I don’t think that package looks great under the tree for them, and it wasn’t working. And it was took a lot of effort and a lot of playing defense versus what we do really well, which is, let’s look at these 36,000 articles and make sure we’re putting time and effort into making sure they are the best. So one thing we spent a lot of time and money on George every year is updating our articles to make sure they have fresh information, a new case study a new quote, a new chart, a new dynamic has played out, we’re looking at just these days, inverted yield curve. Everyone’s looking it up. Why? Because there’s concerns that the yield curve is going to invert, which is a predecessor to a recession. Now, the yield curve definition didn’t change over the years, it is what it is. But there are dynamics at play right now that help people understand that better if we update it with the current context. So we spent a lot of time updating. We spend a lot of time doing new articles and news, we have our own little news thing that we do, but our news is straight down the middle. And we spent a lot of time trying to make sure that the things that we know people are coming to us on a regular basis are as good as those can be. And that is a full time job for our entire editorial staff.

george grombacher 13:26
Yes, no doubt, sort of going through the numbers in my head just second ago. It’s like, okay, if we wanted to update all of our articles in a year, how many people hours is that going to take? And obviously, it’s probably a lot, so. But I also hope that there’s a lot of what I know that there’s a mental wisdom to be taken from what you just said, said that if you want horribly devices, feedback, go ahead and do opinions. And it also just doesn’t play, it doesn’t get the results. So sticking to the facts, the truth, educating and then inviting people or giving them the resources, should they decide they want to take action. You’ve you’ve trained them up, you’ve provided great literacy and resources. And now here’s people that we’ve gone through and vetted, should you decide that you want to do that. I wish that other news organizations would do that too.

Caleb Silver 14:17
Well, it’s so tempting to want to chase the fire and run into it, especially in very politically divisive, divisive times. And we’ve been in those for many years, but also in the markets and we’re dealing with people’s money, you know, how emotional that is sort of you’ve been doing this for a long time. People are very emotional about their health and about their money. These are very personal things. So they really don’t want anything but the facts, ma’am, when we’re giving them that information. And like I said, anytime we do it, we get that brush back and it’s just not worth it. We we have this special connection to our readers and to our followers that is so sacred to us and we have a about a million and a half daily newsletter subscribers. We have about four or five daily newsletters, and they’ve been with us for a long time and They’re so loyal to us, we have a big open rate on them that we’re allowed to survey them. They get the give us the opportunity to ask them how they’re feeling, or their sentiment is every couple of months. And they tell us and we have conversations about it through our newsletters and through my podcast. And then I’m able to take that information. That’s a lot of people, you know, representing the pulse of the individual investor, and then go talk about it in the media, and our audience and our readers. They like the fact that I’m talking about the Investopedia reader, because I think they’re super smart. So it works well for us. And that trust is the most important thing we have going for us.

george grombacher 15:33
Yeah, amen. So how do you figure out what you need to be touching? We talked earlier about before we hopped online about how are you back in the office person, you’ve got all these new people and the same in the great team that you have already. And you’ve got this newsletter, you’ve got the podcast you’re doing ask me any things on social media? So how do you how do you prioritize where to spend your time?

Caleb Silver 15:58
Great question. Well, I obsessively follow what’s going on in the financial media, I’m a business journalist, I’ve been in the game, you know, a very long time. So I know a lot of people out there and I got, you know, screens going all day long. And it’s not that I’m watching the markets like, like a hawk, but I’m watching the trends. I’m seeing what people are talking about, I’m looking for opportunities, where Investopedia can play well into what other folks are doing. Not only that, because we have so many people coming to the site on a daily basis, all with intent, and that’s the most important thing. They’re coming to us for a reason a and everyone has an individual reason, we’re able to look at what people are looking at and say, oh, like I was talking about the inverted yield curve? Well, that’s obvious. People are talking about it in financial media you’re hearing and it’s happening, the the yield curve is flattening, there’s concerns. But I can also look at things that are popping out of nowhere and say why? Why are people suddenly looking up racketeering, for example? Or why are suddenly people looking up. Capital gains, taxes, Long Term versus short term are people trying to trade out maybe maybe trying to take some profits, because that would be a reason to look that up. And then I look at some other data. And I’m able to kind of tell a story, through the stories that people are reading on our site. And that’s fascinating for us. So I am always looking at what people are, we’re looking at here, then I’m looking at what’s happening outside in the financial media and trying to draw the connection, create the bridge, and then go out there and speak about it as the voice of, you know, the Investopedia general population, our readers, but also what the individual investors are really feeling right now. So that’s where I spend a lot of my time, I have two podcasts, the Investopedia Express, which I put out every Monday and now the green investor talking about ESG and Sri and social and impact investing, where I’m trying to learn and teach about how to be a green investor, how to invest along with your environmental conscious. So those are the things I push out. But we are versus a new site, a very much a poll site 90% of the traffic search. We’re pulling people in because they’re looking for something and we have the best or one of the best results on that versus where I used to work at CNN or bloomer, which is all push, extra extra read all about it. We’re not that we’re pull. You’re looking we’re here to help you find it.

george grombacher 18:09
Nice push site versus pulse site. You learn something new every day, Caleb, I love it. Alright, so I walk into Caleb’s kitchen. This is this is into the future. What What kind of restaurant is it Caleb?

Caleb Silver 18:25
Well, I’m I’m a New Mexican. I love New Mexican food. So I’m a chili guy. Probably if you come in before noon, we’re serving huevos rancheros with red and green chili Christmas if you like it, probably going to be some facility going a big part of facility going which is harmony. For the afternoon, maybe app re ski. Maybe I’m doing blue corn chicken enchiladas for dinner. So I’m rocking that but I can go any which way on this I can. I can take it Italian I lived in Italy for for a while when I was in college. So I’ll take you to Tuscany if you want to do that as well. I’m a man for all seasons and a renaissance man in the kitchen when I can be but breakfast is my jam. And New Mexican breakfast is where it’s at. So if you really want to leave satisfied, you’re gonna come in here for a good cup of Pinyon coffee huevos rancheros, maybe a little facility on the side, maybe green chili cornbread, or fry bread, and you know, hot to wake you up on the couch in a couple hours. But that’s what we’re serving.

george grombacher 19:21
Let’s go. I’m in. Okay, hello. I love it. The people are ready for your difference making tip. What do you have for them?

Caleb Silver 19:29
Well, also, I forgot to mention I am a black belt and guacamole. So okay. There are some things I do very, very well. Guacamole is one of them. So there’ll be some GWAC even though it’s not something you normally have with breakfast, I’m going to make sure you have that. So the difference making tip I have and I’m going to pair it. I’m going to pair Charlie Munger on this. I don’t know if I did this in Episode 1000. But if I did, I’m going to do it again. You can tell me if I did and you can. You can buzz me out. But I’m gonna see Charlie Munger who’s the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, he’s about 97 years old, I think, at least, at the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in early May. And Charlie said something to us once when we interviewed him. And this was when he was about 90. So he was already pretty mature, as they say. And he said, You know, I have no capacity in my life for people that don’t have the ability to change their mind. And I’m a believer in that as well, strong opinions held loosely. So you asked about opinion earlier, I have strong opinions, but I’m willing to change my mind, I’m willing to learn from people to help me change my mind. So I can have a better point of view on something. So if a 90 year old billionaire can say that, certainly I can say that in thrills to live by for me. That’s my tip. And then my, my mantra, I’m gonna borrow from Bruce Lee and just be like water because, as you know, in this life, George, and you’ve had great guests on this, and you’ve been through your own experiences, some things you can’t control, but if you can be like water and let it flow and flow with it, you’re going to be a lot happier on the other side of it. So I tried to do those things. Both of those things. Stay curious, being in the frame of mind to change my mind, and then flow like water and so far so good at 51

george grombacher 21:09
Well, I think that is great stuff that definitely gets come. Black Belt and guacamole. You like water and strong opinions held loosely. I love it. Well kept thank you so much for coming back on the show. Where can people learn more? Where Where can we check out the Investopedia express the green investor? The Ask me any things where where can people consume Investopedia and all things Caleb silver?

Caleb Silver 21:34
Great questions. Well, the green investor and the Investopedia expressed, expressed my two podcasts those are available wherever you get your podcasts. So that’s Apple, Amazon, Spotify, Google, everywhere you get them. So you can just search up and we also have transcripts or old episodes and show notes on You can look for those there on the social medias. We are at Investopedia on Twitter, on Instagram and now on Tik Tok, where I’ve been doing just straight investing lessons and explainers and I am not getting silly wearing funny hats and sunglasses. And now I’m here now and then I’m just being me right here in my office and in Harlem and trying to tell people or explain to people what’s going on in the world. So tick tock, check us out. I’d love to hear your feedback on that. And then I’m available at Caleb silver, and I’m easy to find on LinkedIn or through our website. I’m the easiest guy to find and financial media and I am so grateful to you, George for the work that you do in general, but also for having me back. It’s so nice to be with you.

george grombacher 22:31
Well, thank you sir. If you enjoyed as much as I did for Caleb, your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas, check out the Investopedia Express and the green investor. Wherever you enjoy your podcasts, obviously go to and check out all the amazing resources and those 36,000 articles that they’re constantly getting updated. Find Caleb all over the internet, social media outlets, all those we just went through in the notes of the show. Thanks, Ken.

Unknown Speaker 22:59
Ken, thanks for having me.

george grombacher 23:01
And until next time, fighting the good fight. We’re all in this together.

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