“How long have you been in the investment business?” he asked.
“Most of my adult life,” I said.
“Did you know when you were my age (18) what you wanted to do?”
“That’s cool,” he said. “My grandpa and grandma tell me all about you guys.”
Here’s the longer version.
Growing up, we always talked about business at home. But it wasn’t about money. My dad would talk about interactions with customers he’d had that day, and because this was pre-internet, he had all kinds of tidbits about what was going on at the local level.
My dad was an incredible salesman because no one ever viewed him as one.
He learned the people business by scooping ice cream, pumping gas, going door to door as a Fuller Brush Man, selling Electrolux vacuum cleaners, and Dictaphones when living in Boston.
Then he worked at Acushnet Co. (maker of Titleist golf balls), where he wasn’t in sales, and when cuts came around, it was LIFO (last in, first out). A lifelong lesson we talk about to this day.
After he and his dad talked, it was clear he needed to be in front of the customer, not behind closed doors.
With a young family to support, necessity put a sign on our front yard saying he was open for business. He wanted to help you sell your home. Over the years, he bought an office overlooking beautiful Mattapoisett harbor, working on the first floor and renting out the second. It’s where he and my mom live today.
Everyone in town knew my dad. They liked doing business with him. He worked all the time. Not just Saturdays, every day. That’s the nature of working for yourself. But what I’ll never forget is he was always around for us.
Now my mom, she always had CNBC tuned in on our little tv in the kitchen. She was passionate about stocks. She just loved the business of investing and seeing the markets work. This was during an exciting time for the markets. But that’s not the biggest impact my mom had on me.
My mom, as a sixth-grade teacher, would have a stock market contest every year for her kids. She would teach them how to read stock quotes in the newspaper. And here’s the kicker. For me as a third grader, I would hang on to every word she told about the big kids on the playground. I’d hear about who was in the band, on what hockey team they played, and who was the lead in the play—the stock game was a way for me to learn more about the big kids. That was fun.
Business was about a beautiful Porsche under a cover in a customer’s garage, or a soda machine that had sarsaparilla and cream soda that he brought home, or a chocolate almond crescent from a baker friend, or a box of Dorothy Cox candies because he was in Fairhaven, or peanuts for my mom from the corner store in New Bedford that were still warm.
Action Line: I want to hear your stories. When you’re ready to talk, let me know.
E.J. Smith - Your Survival Guy
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