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Jerry Citarella: A multibillionaire’s hands are pretty soft

Financial Truth

Posted: June 21, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 21, 2011 1:55 a.m.

I’d like to share a personal experience with you. You may not learn anything, but I think today’s column is worth reading.

If nothing else, you might finish it and think: “Hmm, that was nice.” Whatever you get from it, I thought I would share about a great experience I had a few weeks ago.

I got to spend time with a billionaire. I’m sorry, a multi-billionaire. And he was pretty cool.

I’m fortunate to get to meet and associate with many financially successful people and occasionally, some really successful people.

I find that while everyone is a little different, really successful people share some common traits. What’s interesting is that in a crowd of people, they are the ones you might last pick out as being hugely successful.

Here’s the one disclaimer: If the successful person didn’t work for his or her money and got it through inheritance or some lucky event, the rule above might not apply.

The people who’ve “paid their dues” seem to be the most grounded. They have nothing to prove.

Until recently, something I’d never done is hang out with a multibillionaire. I actually didn’t know I was going to have the opportunity, so I hadn’t put a lot of thought into it, but when the moment approached, I instantly thought, “What the heck is this guy going to be like?”

I’d seen him on TV and read stuff he’d written, but what would this man be like in person, in an intimate setting? Would he float in, spit out a few courtesy comments, look down on us and leave in a hurry?

No. Not even close.

Actually, he wouldn’t leave. He was so gracious that his people had to practically drag him away.

The first meeting was in a group session of about 50. He actually asked if he could spend a few more minutes with us, and the gentleman leading our meeting said, “It’s your building, I guess you can take as much time as you’d like.”

Now, that’s cool.

The next day, I got an even bigger treat. Three of us were pulled from the group meeting and brought outside for a surprise.

We were escorted upstairs and into a big room filled with computers, people, newswires and securities quotes.

I was in the trading room of one of the largest mutual-fund companies, being given a tour, and there was the multibillionaire again.

What surprised me was that he was working.

This individual, who cofounded the company and manages of one of the biggest mutual funds in the industry, overseeing hundreds of billions of dollars in assets and has an insanely impressive personal net worth, whose words are known to be able to move markets, was possibly the hardest-working person in the room.

He did, however, take time to come over and chat with us for almost half an hour.

He mentioned that he’d just made a trade in the fund. We asked what he bought and the amount he paid. He answered calmly with the buy details, and said it was for about $60 billion.

We in the group acted like it was no big deal that we’d just witnessed a $60 billion purchase. He was not as impressed; in fact, he was very humble, and that impressed me more than the money moving around.

We had a very nice conversation, which included some anecdotes about his wife and himself and stories about when the markets crashed in 2008.

Let’s just say that he was as concerned as the rest of us, maybe more so. We talked about some industry stuff and some personal stuff, but the whole time, he was just a regular guy — a regular guy who could personally buy a small island if he desired, but you would never know it.

It was an honor to meet a pioneer and industry leader. It was a pleasure to meet such a humble, hardworking person.
And it was a surprise that a man with all that he possesses had hands that were so soft (they really were) and was such a regular guy.

I think next time I move, I’ll call him to help me. He just might drive a pickup truck. Well, maybe not.

Jerry Citarella is the owner of Infinity Wealth Management 23734 Valencia Blvd., Suite 301, Valencia, (661) 255-9555, ext. 11. He is also the author of “The Truth Helps” series of financial planning books. Mr. Citarella’s column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. Submit questions to: Securities and investment advisory services offered through NEXT Financial Group, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. Infinity Wealth Management is not an affiliate of NEXT Financial Group Inc.


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