I was very fortunate early in my career to be surrounded by mentors who took a personal interest in my career-path, and ultimately, shaped my success and had a tremendous influence on my professional development.
Three people really stand out in this regard. They get all of the credit and none of the blame. The first is Rebecca Garner, a true pioneer in the financial services industry who took a chance on me right out of school and who will always remain a lifetime friend. I am grateful to her for, in her words, “giving me enough rope to hang myself.” Fortunately (I think) I didn’t. She is currently the fixed income portfolio manager in the Fayetteville, Arkansas office of IPI Asset Management based in Decatur, Illinois.
The second person who comes immediately to mind is Dr. Art Gudikunst, who was an associate professor of finance at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, VA. He watched all of us young Turks in action, all the while knowing that he could run circles around all of us both academically and professionally. He still can, I didn’t know it at the time, but I am well aware of it now. It’s like that old truth that the older I get, the smarter my parents become. The same holds true of Art – what a remarkable mind.
Third is Dr. Ben Branch, currently a professor of finance at the University of Massachusetts’ Isenberg School of Management. Ben worked with Becca, Art and me at Fortune 500 Company Monarch Capital Corporation. He took me under his wing very early in my career and asked me if I wanted to help him and Mr. Hugh M. Ray (one of the nation’s most prominent bankruptcy attorneys) of Andrews & Kurth, LLP write a book. Not knowing that I couldn’t, I said yes. It turns out I could, but not without the guidance of a master. We had a state-of-the-art e-mail system back in the late 1980’s, way before e-mail was common place (think stone-age). I tend to be wordy most of the time and I wasted a lot of bytes of expensive computer storage. Fortunately, Ben’s writing style can best be described as “get to the point – right now.” He had a unique way of condensing extensive tomes into something intelligible without compromising style or content. I am forever thankful for the opportunity he gave me.
Click on the thumbnails to get a brief glimpse of the book. Unfortunately, it is currently out of print. Hmm…maybe there’s a reason for that. The current version, the fourth edition, is available from Amazon or directly from the publisher Beard Books.
The book was recognized by Forbes magazine as “one of …the best from the class of ’92.”