I turn 50 today. I don’t feel any different. My perspective on life hasn’t changed. Maybe it’s because my grandfather is still alive. He’s 98. I don’t feel like I am on the back side of my life yet. It used to be people went through a mid life crisis at around 40. If I did that, it manifested itself in getting an MBA at Chicago Booth.
When I was on the CME Board of Directors, I used to have lunch with Merton Miller and Paul Simon. I would eat, and they would discuss. Obviously, they were on opposite sides of the fence. However, they were good friends. One day I told Merton that I always wanted to get an MBA. He told me, “If you do it, do it at Chicago.” Hey, no one ever told me I couldn’t follow orders!
I am lucky and have had an interesting life. Through the years, from the time I was pretty young up to today I have met some pretty cool people. Famous athletes, Medal of Honor recipients and war heroes, elected officials, titans of business, but the ones I like the best realize that we are all just the same in the end.
They realize life is a gift. You have to do something with it that you enjoy if you can. Not everyone gets to do that, but so far in my life at each stage I have done something that I really wanted to do. When I was a kid, it was sports all the time. I worked hard and turned myself into a pretty decent basketball player. Could shoot the lights out, but that was before the three point line! I went to three colleges in four years-Air Force Academy, Triton College, Illinois and at the end just wanted to get a job. I was lucky, and had a great job at 3M ($MMM) with an awesome boss.
A friend brought me to the trading floors and I found a home. In those trading pits, I met so many good people I can’t begin to count them. They influence you in different ways. Roger Carlsson gave me my start and I am grateful he took a chance on me. Even after the floor networks have been blown to smithereens by electronic trading, I have tried to remain in contact through any social media outlet to keep those networks alive.
People rip floor traders all the time. Being a floor trader was one of the greatest things you could ever be. It was a great way to learn about business. I have seen some amazing things on the trading floor-both good and bad but mostly good. When you made money, it was the greatest job in the world. When you lost, not so much. But either way it was fun.