How Top Manager Larry Puglia Stays Fit Mentally And Physically

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Larry Puglia has managed $30.7 billion T. Rowe Price Blue Chip Growth Fund ( TRBCX ) since mid-1993. He has been its sole manager since May 1997.

And he has outperformed. Over the past 10 and 15 years going into Monday, for example, his fund has topped 90% and 88% of its peers tracked by Morningstar Inc.

Any worker, businessperson or executive who wants to beat the competition in his or her field can take a lesson from Puglia. The 55-year-old mutual fund manager described his workload and exercise routine as part of his discussion with IBD about how he invests and in follow-up emails.

IBD: Is your job physically as well as mentally demanding, Larry?

Puglia: I believe that exercise is an important aspect of staying mentally sharp and improving decision-making in almost any line of work. Portfolio management is not physically demanding per se, but I do believe that the sheer volume of information we have to assimilate and also the significant amount of meetings in which we participate, including presentations to existing and potential clients, require a great deal of energy.

IBD: Describe your workload, please.

Puglia: I generally work around 60 hours a week. Some of that work can be done while I am traveling or in the evenings. I read and analyze 100 to 200 pages of research per day -- probably three to five pages on 25 to 30 companies per day.

The research consists of internal research and also Wall Street research. I meet with dozens of companies per month in both internal meetings and also meetings outside the office at company headquarters or at conferences.

IBD: How much work do you take home every day?

Puglia: Much of the work is portable. Some of the reading can be done on planes, trains or at home in the evenings. And I generally do an hour or two of reading every evening at home.

I also will work on weekends, but have striven to limit that to reading in the evening. I rarely go into the office over the weekend, but might read on Saturday and particularly on Sunday evening.

IBD: Are you one of those folks who gets by on little sleep?

Puglia: I often go on six hours sleep but prefer seven.

IBD: What are your keys for long-term outperformance?

Puglia: I would say where we started the conversation: having a good research group is quite helpful. You must have a style or methodology that you're comfortable with, fits your predilections and makes common sense to you. It might not work for every investor, but it fits your way of thinking about stocks.

IBD: What else?

Puglia: Other than that, good fortune. Long-term survival takes a bit of luck. Sometimes more than a bit. And trying to be thoughtful and balanced in your analysis is very important.

It comes from staying in good physical condition. You need a good diet and exercise. It's like what high-performance athletes would do to get their maximum performance.

IBD: Tell me about your exercise program, please, Larry.

Puglia: I'm 55. I work harder than ever to stay mentally and physically fit. Over the years, I've done a number of things. I got into cycling. Right now, what I'm doing more than anything is working out on my elliptical. It's a Cybex cross trainer. I burn close to 1,000 calories in a session.

When I play golf, I carry my clubs and walk 18 holes. Walking is great exercise. I fit it in between my more robust workouts.

I run and swim at the beach.

I've learned as I got older, my basic Cybex workout is best two or three times a week, supplemented by walking, golfing, swimming. And I work in the yard. I do gardening and I try to cut down bushes and trees. I come from a long line of gardeners! My grandfather had a garden. He'd hike and do that kind of thing. And I try to play pickup basketball and football with the kids, but you know...

IBD: Hey, am I talking with Rambo?

Puglia: Just to be clear, I would not consider myself a fitness buff. There are certainly others at T. Rowe that have more disciplined workout routines.

IBD: For people who aren't familiar with the machine, describe your Cybex workout.

Puglia: The Cybex cross trainer is an advanced elliptical machine that allows you to vary your stride so it can create a higher or lower stepping or more gliding elliptical motion. I generally do a 60-minute workout.

IBD: Are your workouts at home or at the office?

Puglia: I am on my feet on the machine for the entire workout. I typically work out in the evenings. The machine is at my home.

IBD: What do you do to make gardening a workout as well as enjoyable?

Puglia: I would say I generally do yard work rather than just garden. When I do, it can involve working for several hours in the yard.

For the past 20 years, it has not been unusual for me to mow the lawn, then walk 18 holes of golf and then sometimes work out, completing the type of rigorous workout on the Cybex or something equivalent.

I used to run outside or on a treadmill. When I ran, I would typically run for 3-1/2 to four miles. The Cybex workout is about the equivalent of running five or six miles in terms of time spent and calories burned. Our new home has more yard, so I do have it mowed but I still do yard work.

IBD: I'm getting tired just listening to this. OK, I'll bite. How do you cool down?

Puglia: I typically finish my Cybex or other workout by doing a few strength exercises, and generally I do 50 pushups to finish.

IBD: While I'm sucking on my oxygen mask, summarize your routine, please.

Puglia: Over the last few years, I have realized that walking and swimming can be used to supplement my other workouts.

IBD: Of course.

Puglia: So I walk generally in the evenings on nonworkout days or on the weekend. Our house is located on a fairly steep loop that is about 1.2 miles around. I typically do three laps walking briskly.

Our house also has a pool, so I have tried to do more swimming in the summer months and have always enjoyed swimming, but I am not as strong at swimming as I am running, where I would often run for five miles or cycle, where it is not unusual for me to ride 35 or 40 miles in a little over two hours.

I have never seriously considered doing a triathlon, but I feel that the running and cycling portions would be easier for me to complete than the swimming portion.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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