In the game of baseball, you get three strikes before you’re out.
In the game of life, you sometimes start with two strikes against you.
Such was the case for my son while at Duke University.
My son made the decision
to study finance while at Duke. He dreamt of working on Wall Street, and making a fortune.
But he faced some very formidable hurdles.
The first thing to confront him was the issue of wealth. Many of his classmates were incredibly wealthy. It showed in the clothes they wore and the way they carried themselves. Their fathers had built fortunes working on Wall Street. These kids had never known a day of their lives without being multimillionaires.
Mike, on the other hand, came from very modest means. His Dad, me, was a retired educator- his Mom did not work. We didn’t starve, but were by no means rich.
The second issue concerned the level of financial knowledge his classmates brought with them on day one.
As brilliant sons of Wall Street investors and lawyers, these kids learned, at an early age, the ways that the Street worked. They came to class with an incredible level of understanding.
Mike, on the other hand, did not know much. Home life did little to prepare him. What he did know he picked up from the Wall Street Journal and books he read.
So, combine the lack of wealth with a
lack of knowledge, and you end up with a massive lack of respect thrown his way. He was ostracized, ignored and laughed at.
Disaster seemed inevitable.
But a few things came into play.
The first things were his laser locked sense of focus, unmatchable determination, and incredible TOUGHNESS. Nothing was going to keep this kid from reaching his goal. He struggled mightily to come from far behind, and he attacked the problem with a renewed sense of purpose every day.
And he found a faculty member that recognized his talent through the rough exterior. She pushed him and wouldn’t accept anything less then his best, and he responded. She believed in him completely, and spread the word about this “diamond in the rough” to her Wall Street contacts.
The rest, as they say, is happy, happy history. Mike was hired by a giant Wall Street global investment firm as an analyst and he has thrived. While it has been occasionally tough, it’s nothing compared to what he faced at Duke. And he dealt with it all without a word of complaint.
I am inspired by Mike and see him as a hero. I observe his life, with great joy, on a daily basis. And that is a wonderful reward.