After ten years of working for a prestigious Wall Street bank and
slamming into a glass ceiling, I vehemently said "Enough!"
If I was going to have an inspiring, compelling life and go beyond a
clock- punching, nine-to-five job, I knew I had to make the decision to
create it and shift gears.
I began looking. I'd never let my deafness shortchange my dreams. I
wasn't about to start now.
After scanning local advertisements, I learned a financial giant was
looking to hire more stockbrokers. I thought, I can do that! With great
excitement, I called a few people and made an appointment to see a branch
On the day of my appointment, I was terribly sick with a cold and 101
degree fever that threatened to keep me in bed. Yet, I knew I couldn't let
golden opportunity slip away, so I reluctantly showed up for the interview.
We ended up talking for over three hours. It went so well, I was
positive he would hire me on the spot. Instead, he told me to come back
for 12 more interviews with his top salespeople!
Over the next five months, every one of them discouraged me from
becoming a stockbroker.
"You're better off in a safe 9-to-5 job," they proclaimed. "Eighty
percent of newcomers fail within their first year," they added. "You have
no investment experience."
"You won't make it."
The more they attacked my dream, the more my stomach tightened. I
realized then that I would have to "fake it to make it."
The last interview with the vice president was scheduled on a cold,
blustery January day. Five minutes into the meeting, it was obvious he
didn't know what to do with me. He nervously played with a paper clip and
pretended to read a report I had prepared on how I would build my business
if I was hired.
It was now or never. With all the courage I could muster, I looked at
him straight in the eye and captured his attention.
"Sir," I said, "If you don't hire me, you'll never know just how much
I could've done for this firm." When I heard my own brazen words, I
panicked. My God, I thought, what have I done? Can I really back that up?
I waited and waited. The seconds seemed like minutes and the minutes,
He threw the paper clip in the wastebasket and finally spoke.
"Okay, you've got the job!" he announced.
I stood up triumphantly and was about to leave when he added, "On one
"First," he said, "you must first resign from your job, effective two
weeks from today and enroll in our three-month training program. When
you're done with that, you'll be required to take the Series 7 stockbroker
exam. It's 250 questions long and you must pass it on the
He then drove home his final point, "If you fail even by one point --
My mouth went dry. I nearly choked at the prospect of taking a huge
leap of faith into the unknown. I knew I stood to lose everything if I
failed that test!
Then, captivated by this ultimate risk taking opportunity and the
courage I never knew I had, I swallowed hard and said, "I'll take it."
As instructed, I cut my lifeline to the bank and leapt into unproven
After three months of training, I was ready to take the three-hour
exam. The test site was a short distance from where I would be working, if
I remember taking the elevator to the seventh floor and registering.
From the reception area, I could see the test room through the glass
partition. It was full of computers, all deliberately spaced in several
rows. The room was sparsely furnished with the barest of essentials: scrap
paper, several sharpened pencils and uncomfortable-looking chairs.
The exam proctor cheerfully led me to my assigned computer. I
thought, at least she wasn't taking the test!
Soon she gave me a signal to go ahead. I was very nervous but as the
test progressed, I felt increasingly confident. Three hours passed
It was time for the final score -- the computer would calculate it and
flash it on the screen.
I sat there with my hands folded on my lap and stared at the computer
that held the key to my future. I was positive someone could hear my heart
thumping. The screen blinked on and off with the message, "Your scores are
being tabulated by the computer, please wait."
I couldn't wait -- I wanted it to be over with!
Finally, the scores were displayed.
I had passed! I let out an audible sigh of relief.
Since that day, I've never looked back. I exceeded not only my own
expectations but also those of the manager who took a chance and hired me
on that fateful day. Before being promoted upstairs, he was around long
enough to witness my personal sales soar 1,700%, hand me several sales
awards and see me interviewed on CNN.
That was in 1992. Four years later, I took another daring risk and
left the lucrative securities industry to become an inspirational speaker
My experiences confirmed the truth of Thoreau's words: "If one
advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavors to live
the life which he had imagined, he will meet success unexpected in common