I grew up in Huntington, W. Va., on the border of Kentucky and Ohio. It's known for the 1970 plane crash that took the lives of the football players from Marshall University. My family owned several Hallmark card stores. I was the youngest of three and spent a lot of time at the stores, vacuuming the floors, manning the cash registers and straightening the card bins. I loved chemistry and physics and thought about a career as a physician, but a college course in organic chemistry changed my mind.

My grandfather was a public accountant and owned his own firm, and I was his retirement plan; therefore I majored in accounting at Marshall. After becoming a CPA and working in public accounting for four years, I ended up telling him it wasn't for me. For one thing, audits didn't make me popular. When I told my grandfather I had decided to become a financial advisor, he got upset and said I was ruining my life. I joined Smith Barney in 1993.

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