could someone please take a look at my ps I am having a real hard time tying in a strong ending.
As a boy I was raised to believe that money was the most important thing in the world. On many occasions my father, who grew up poor, would tell me, “Michael, money is the most important thing in life, it comes first”. These ideals drove my father to repeatedly chase the all mighty dollar through construction jobs in the Middle East. To my father, it seemed as though this was an exciting life and one which most people could only dream of. On many levels he was right; it provided my family the opportunity to live in countries like Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, immersing ourselves in different mores, and morals of many cultures throughout the world. The one real problem that he could not see was the adverse impact this transient lifestyle was having on our family and that it would eventually lead to its breakup.
After graduating from high school in 1988, I worked two jobs for a year and half to save for college. In the fall of 1990 I set off to conquer the world. My first stop was St. John’s University. I was certain of the career path I would take; Finance, Wall Street and its chance for big money was calling. But like most students, my first two semesters were ones of adjustment, of being an adult in terms of age but not in maturity. But that all changed in my third semester. That’s when I met my future wife, got engaged, and wed early because of an unexpected addition to our future. Now my father’s teachings were resonating in my ears. I needed to make money. I had bills, I had to provide for a family, no matter what else, I needed money. This need drove me to strive for better grades so I could graduate and get a good job. My grades went from a 2.7 to a 3.44, all the while working full time, and neglecting my young family.
After three and a half years at St John’s, I graduated. For the next two years, I worked at an investment bank. I worked hard, up to eighty hours a week and was soon promoted to Assistant Vice President. I felt like something was missing though, more money. After some deliberation I decided the real place for me was to be at the nexus of the finance world, the floor of an exchange. The major obstacle I was facing in obtaining the position I needed was the nepotism of the floors. You needed to know someone to get an interview. Luckily, I had an uncle who worked on the floor of the Chicago Board of Options Exchange, so I set out in search of some information and advice. While spending a few days on the floor of the CBOE, I began to take notice of the names of the firms listed on the member’s jackets. One day while in Chicago, I decided to create my own opportunity by cold calling some of those firms. My desire impressed one firm enough that an interview was setup with their floor manager on the American Stock Exchange in New York. During the interview, I was informed that all floor traders must undertake a six month rigorous training course. At the end of the interview I was offered a clerk position, which paid about $30,000 less than I was already earning. But I could see the pot of gold the end of the rainbow; it was there for the taking. About two weeks after accepting the position, I was informed that there was a class already underway and that I would have to wait six months for the next class to start. For me that was unacceptable. I asked, “How long have they been attending the class”. The answer was “six weeks and that the first exam was in three days”. After some major coaxing, I got the floor manager to agree to allow me to take the exam and also agree that if I passed with an 85% or better, he would allow me to stay in the class. I spent every minute I had reading, studying, and asking seasoned trader’s questions. Finally, the night of the exam was here. The next morning the floor manager grabbed me, and told me I scored a 91%, the second highest grade in the class, and that I was in the class.
Although I found trading exciting, demanding, and most of all financially rewarding, I also found it morally challenging. As my experiences grew, I began to question Wall Street and its ethics. On occasion I had seen traders enter into verbal binding, contracts and then renege on them as trades became financial losers. Besides the legal issues, I always found it disturbing how some would trade their integrity for money. As a trader, I have always believed that my word was my bond. In all my years of being on the floor, I take pride in the fact that I was always revered as an honest, stand up trader, and had never been investigated for actions unbecoming a member.
Flash forward to November 2001. I had made it, success. I now owned my own trading firm on the American Stock Exchange. I had twelve traders trading my money. I owned a seat on the Chicago Board of Trade. I had a nice house, and nice cars, and a beautiful family. And then it happened. A phone call came in the early morning hours. The voice on the other end of the phone said “Michael your father was rushed to the hospital”. And that’s when my world stopped.
I had never given much thought to the concept of my father dying, or to the possibility of what it might mean to lose him. Suddenly, I was confronted with this very real prospect. Over the next few months I lived in a hospital room in Texas watching helplessly as my father battled for his life, all the while seeing the most influential person in my life wither away, watching him fade in and out of consciousness. During one of his times of lucidness, my father hit me with the most life altering moment I had ever experienced. He sat there with tears in his eyes and said “Michael I was wrong, everything I ever taught you about money was wrong. Life isn’t about money; it’s about your family, it’s about your boys and your wife. Please don’t make the same mistake I made, it’s not worth it. My biggest regret was losing my family”. Sadly, my father passed and I was left with utter confusion. My whole life was about his ideals, and now he was telling me they were wrong.
For the next five years, I struggled with the loss of my father. It impacted my life profoundly, I found myself asking questions. Who was I? What’s life really about? Is it that simple, family? How do I deal with this? My whole life was about money, a big house, and material goods.
In 2004, I became involved with coaching youth football. I never could have imagined that I would get anything personally out of coaching, but I did. One day while I was on the field coaching practice, I noticed some fathers screaming and yelling to their kids about playing harder, be a winner, winning is the most important thing. At that point many things started to run through my head, these children wanted to be out there predominately because of their fathers wanting them to be out there, at this age these kids don’t understand a thing about football except their father likes it and that he wants them to play. I found myself reflecting on the impact of what my father’s ideals and words had on me.
I have now coached football for 6 years and I find myself being more interested in how I am impacting these young lives, how I am not only teaching the game of football but also teaching life lessons; commitment, teamwork, and hard work. Recently, I ran and was elected the president of the Pop Warner organization in my town. I found myself running because of the inequality and lack of leadership in our program. The people who were in charge had different standards for their friends and families. The family’s who had financial problems or personal problems with the organizations board of directors were ignored or worse taunted until they quite the program. I have always felt that the organization is the parent’s organization and that the program only exists because of these families, I could no longer sit idly by and allow this to continue.
In February 2010 I turned 40 and as most men do, I have done a retrospect of my life and at this point in my life, it seems to most, that I have it all: a comfortable house in the suburbs, a happy marriage, and three beautiful sons. I could have simply continued my travel through life toward my eventual retirement. But with the soul searching I have done and my experiences in life I have now started to ask the questions, how is my life going to be measured? And I think I have figured it out. A measurement of my life is not by the material possessions I accumulate over the course of my life but rather by the number of people I touch and help during my life”. I realize I want to contribute more to the world than simply capitalizing on financial opportunities that most people don’t understand.