Why Billionaire Home Depot Founder Ken Langone Took A Secretary’s Salary At His First Wall Street Job

Why Billionaire Home Depot Founder Ken Langone Took A Secretary’s Salary At His First Wall Street Job

LINETTE LOPEZ AND SARANYA KAPUR NOV. 15, 2013, 12:16 PM 4,394 5

Some of the most successful people on Wall Street, have gotten where they are in ways you might not expect. Take the case of Home Depot founder, billionaire Ken Langone. In an interview with finance career site OneWire, he explains the winding road he took to finance, and it’s no standard story. His grades in college weren’t conventional:“Bucknell [University] used to send out a snapshot of where you stood in your first 8 weeks of the semester, and I was literally getting an F in every subject I took. I was taking a course in basic economics, and [the professor] handed out all the papers with the grades. After the class, he announced he wanted to see me. He took the exam out and threw the paper on the desk and said ‘That is the worst English I have ever read in my entire life. I had to struggle to understand what you were saying, but once I figured it out, I’ve never had a freshman that understood the concept of supply and demand better than you.'”

And the way he got to his first job at a bond trading firm wasn’t conventional either:

“I decided I was going to go to Wall Street and I was introduced to some people…I met a guy who knew a bond trader at Pressprich, and he got me to meet him and the guy that ran their sales department, Jack Collin. And he said ‘We can’t hire you, we’re like everybody else in the street, trying to control our overheads.’

So I turned around and I left, and then I went back up upstairs and asked to see Jack Collin again. I said, ‘What do you pay your secretary, a 150 a week? OK, pay me a 150 a week. I’ll run classes three nights a week in accounting and securities analysis for your trainees. But there’s one hook- you have to give me every account you’re not doing business with. In 3 and a half years I was made a partner.'”

Ultimately Langone founded Home Depot and turned 3,000 kids that started out pushing carts in his store into multi-millionaires.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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