November 30, 2020

cedric-lachat

education gives you strength

Former Stanford reliever pitches personal-finance education through storytelling

4 min read
Sahil Bloom’s story began with, well, a story. © Courtesy of Sahil Bloom Sahil Bloom...

Sahil Bloom’s story began with, well, a story.



Tim Cook wearing a suit and tie: Sahil Bloom (right) with one of his mentors, Apple CEO Tim Cook.


© Courtesy of Sahil Bloom
Sahil Bloom (right) with one of his mentors, Apple CEO Tim Cook.

In May, the Weston native and former Stanford baseball pitcher wanted to find a simple, effective way to communicate his knowledge of the financial market to the public in the midst of a tumultuous economy. So he started a Twitter thread for his approximately 500 followers, explaining why the stock market was on its way back up even while unemployment rose to all-time highs.

He used a parable about an Italian market and explained the concept in uncomplicated terms.

“It got picked up by a few accounts … and all of a sudden I had gone from 500 to 1,500 followers, and I kind of thought, ‘Wow, maybe I’m onto something here with simplifying these things with little stories and breaking down these concepts in understandable ways,’ ” Bloom said

Four months later, he has almost 33,000 followers. He, indeed, could be onto something.

Bloom, 29, seven years removed from throwing high-90s fastballs as a righthanded reliever for the Cardinal, is now a vice president at Altamont Capital Partners in Palo Alto, Calif. He graduated in 2013 with degrees in sociology and economics and completed a master’s in public policy a year later with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as his adviser.

But his passion project is to demystify the world of finance and economics so Americans from all walks of life can strengthen their financial futures, and he carved out his own piece of Internet real estate to further that. Each Monday, he produces a new Twitter thread featuring an economic topic, business-origin story, or financial history lesson. They have ranged from how inflation works, to the origins of the Ponzi scheme, to how sriracha turned into an $80 million industry.

Each story has garnered thousands of likes and retweets. Bloom hopes that giving free access to this information can empower people to get a better understanding of their own finances. He doesn’t believe financial knowledge is well-dispersed by those already in the industry, something he hopes to change.

“In the finance world, the status quo is why normal people feel they need to pay exorbitant fees to financial advisers to advise on their behalf,” said Bloom. “It’s why my mom asks me if she should be paying a financial adviser a percentage in management fees to manage her money for her in index funds.

“That status quo has made a lot of people a lot of money and it all comes from making sure that people don’t feel empowered to do these things themselves or to learn about these things.”

Bloom’s biggest inspirations, ironically, are part of that status quo. He considers Apple CEO Tim Cook to be one of his most important mentors, and the two of them frequently have lunch together. They have attended functions with investor Warren Buffett, and Reddit co-founder and Serena Williams’s husband Alexis Ohanian.

Bloom also draws inspiration from his parents. His mother, Lakshmi, was born and raised in India and is now an entrepreneur. His father, David, is Professor of Economics and Demography in the Department of Global Health and Population at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Bloom hopes to take what he’s learned both at home and at Stanford to democratize personal-finance education during a time of economic turmoil.

As Bloom started to build his online audience in May, he reached out to Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban by guessing his email. He guessed correctly, and they exchanged emails. They later shifted the conversation to Twitter direct messages, and Cuban was impressed with Bloom’s gusto.

Bloom hopes to work with Cuban on personal-finance education in the future.

“I was blown away,” said Bloom. “Just for someone like that to take the time out of his day to even send me a series of DMs, and be thoughtful and engaging was just pretty amazing to me.

“And it’s clear that he’s passionate about these things, and about helping people, which is encouraging when people in high positions feel that way and want to give back to their communities.”

Even Bloom’s former teammates realized he had potential to effect change on a large scale.

“He’s a very bright guy and always has been,” said A’s outfielder Stephen Piscotty, who played with Bloom for three years and considers him one of his closest friends. “He’s worked really hard. He’s always been a go-getter.

“I’m always joking with him that I’m waiting for him to run for president one day. He’s got a good way of how the world works.”

Believing that “talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not,” Bloom advocates for putting more personal-finance education in schools so students can learn monetary basics at a young age and build wealth early in their lives.

His next goal is to write an illustrated children’s book on personal finance.

“Things from the very simple to the slightly more complicated, putting them into ways and into stories that people can really access, and really understand at their most foundational level,” Bloom said

So far, he’s doing that one tweet at a time.

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