I still live in Peoria, Illinois, where I was born. I worked in a plastics factory for three summers during high school, and another summer I worked for a steel company cutting up boxcars with a blowtorch. The first day, I set my socks on fire in the first 10 minutes. The lesson I learned was that I better go to school and pay attention.

In 1973, I got a B.A. in political science from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. When I was job-hunting, my dad, who sold envelopes, came home one night and told me he didn't know what stockbrokers did, but he had a friend who was one and they seemed to do well financially. I researched the position and interviewed with the branch manager of a nearby E. F. Hutton office. He said he liked me, but I didn't have any sales experience. I asked if he'd hire me if I had some, and he said yes. I got a job with a local advertising agency selling ads, contacted him two years later, and he came through.

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