Bernard Baruch came from humble beginnings; his father was a Prussian immigrant who travelled to America in 1855 to avoid conscription. Baruch spent his early childhood in South Carolina before moving to New York when he was ten.
After graduating from New York City College he took a job on Wall St working as a $3-a-week clerk where by chance he met John Pierpont Morgan. Morgan’s power impressed Baruch so much that he resolved to pursue a successful financial career.
Baruch was always proud of his career in speculation saying: “I am a speculator; and I make no apologies for it. The word comes from the Latin speculari – to observe. I observe.” Anyone that can casually drop Latin into their job description immediately goes up a couple of notches in our book.
He quickly made an impact on Wall St, not just for his financial success, but for being known as a ‘lone wolf’. He refused to join any of the financial houses on Wall St and famously avoided hearing any market rumours in case they clouded his own judgment. By the age of 30 he had built a fortune by speculating on the sugar markets. Sweet.
As well as a successful career on Wall St, Baruch was also asked to be an economic adviser for the US during World War I and II. He became known as the ‘park-bench statesman’ because of his habit of sitting in Central Park and discussing government policy with people who sat by him. Don’t try this yourself: while Baruch got away with this because he was an intelligent and gifted man, you would probably just come across as homeless.