The only thing worse than being associated with Wall street these days is being a Wall-Street-type going back to your college reunion. I've been remiss in posting the last couple of weeks because I've had back-to-back-to-back trips. The first leg was for my husband, Bob's, Air Force Acadmey reunion.
We saw generals, astronauts, corporate CEOs, airline pilots (lots of those) and even an occassional wayward fighter pilot or two. Bob clearly had the most enviable job--as a test pilot for the Sabreliner and F-4 fighter jet.
At this reunion, the week the Dow fell south of the equator, the least enviable job was that of a financial investor. Most of these Wall Street guys had a good attitude, but Bob and I spent a painful 20 minutes with one Financial Management guy who spent 1/2 the time talking about how rich he was (yeah, I believe THAT) and the other 1/2 about how smart he was to own the company. Bob tried to interject, "Well, Ellie works in the financial area as well--she's an author, speaker and media personality." He took one very condescending look at me, tightened his lips, raised his eyebrows and looked as if the idea of listening to me talk about my work would be as pleasant as the thought of having to stand in for the "Naked Cowboy" in the middle of Times Square. I spared him. Instead I said, "Bob, he probably needs to go and catch up with other class mates, if he wants to know more about me, he can go to my website."
The vast majority of Wall Street is so disconnected with Main Street. Their main interest is "my accumulated wealth, my ambition, and oh, yeah, ME." But then came the second leg of my back-to-back-to-back trips--Fort Polk, Louisiana or Main Street America. At this post, 85% of the soldiers are deployed NOW. They brought me out to speak at a spouse's conference that the leadership put together to help these (primarily) women deal with: 1) their finances and 2) the life and death aspect of their role as military wives. Just before I came to town,we got word that the post lost a soldier. So when I spoke, behind me on the platform, the stage was set up for a memorial service for the staff seargant who was killed in Iraq and left a wife and three kids. The memorial was to be held in the same building where we had our event. My message was practical and purposeful and one that gave hope in the midst of their real world life.
The next day I spoke again to another group on post. One of the women came up to me and said she had talked to her soldier the night before from Iraq. He said, "let me live vicariously through you, what did you do today?" She told him about the spouse's conference and some of the funny stories. He laughed. She also told him about other aspects of the presentation and said, "She made me laugh. She made me cry. She made me proud to be an Army wife."
He asked her to give me a message, knowing she would see me at the event that day. "My husband wanted me to tell you" she smiled shyly, "Thank you for making my spouse laugh. Thank you for making her cry. Thank you for making her proud to be my wife."
When it comes down to working on Wall Street or working with those on Main Street. I think you know where I choose to live. Later this week, I'll talk about the final leg of my back-to-back-to-back trips (hint, it involved Times Square and the good news was Bob's broker classmate wasn't there!)
America's Family Financial Expert (R)