I was born and raised in Augusta, Ga., where the Masters is held every year. Everyone in town either played golf or talked about playing golf. I never learned how to play, but in hindsight, I wish I had; it would be great for retirement.

After I graduated from babysitting at 15, I worked for Georgia Railroad Bank during the summers and in college, before checks were processed automatically. Every morning I'd go in and pull a tray of checks and remove the bad ones. Then I would make calls to the customers and, based on their answers, decide whether to pay the checks. It was a small town, so I learned that people I knew and loved could be in silent financial distress. In 1984 I graduated from Davidson College in North Carolina with a degree in international politics and economics. I thought I might go into international policy but when I was a senior, the college asked me and a few other students to travel to the east coast and promote the value of a liberal arts education. After a number of job offers I took a job with First Union National Bank, started in the training program as a commercial lender and eventually managed the commercial bank side and commercial banking for the east coast. Next I moved to capital markets to manage the healthcare banking group. I was a regional president in a community bank until First Union merged with Wachovia in 2001, when I worked on a project for the Wachovia CEO on how we might partner across the company.

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