By Chris Taylor
NEW YORK, Sept 6 When some veterans of American
finance told Reuters about their first jobs, they never expected
it to become an Internet meme.
But there is obviously something inspiring about the humble
beginnings of successful people, because our article ()
rocketed around the Web with the #firstjob hashtag.
Brian Rogers may be chairman of mutual fund giant T. Rowe
Price Group Inc, for instance, but he regaled us with
tales of being a lowly retail stock boy. Drexel Hamilton's
president, Jim Cahill, reminisced about picking up empty soda
bottles along the docks in Manhattan and shining shoes for 10
cents a pop.
Meanwhile, Metropolitan Capital Advisors' co-founder Karen
Finerman was bossed around as a gofer at Creative Artists
Agency, while Ariel Investments Vice-Chairman Charlie Bobrinskoy
slung Coca-Cola, peanuts and beer at Chicago Cubs and
White Sox games.
We checked in with another group of finance gurus, just in
time for the August jobs report from the U.S. Labor Department.
Name: Abby Joseph Cohen
Title: Senior U.S. investment strategist, Goldman Sachs &
First job: Mail sorter
"My very first job was when I was 17, for the Post Office
out at Kennedy Airport. I worked at a conveyor belt, picking up
packages that had been sent by air mail and tossing them into
the right bin. If you've ever seen me, you know I'm not very big
or strong, at 5'2". But there I was loading and unloading
trucks, and hauling 40-pound sacks of mail around. I got very
buff that summer.
"This was in the summer of 1969, and there was no subway to
Kennedy back then, so as a Queens girl I took the bus out every
morning. Even though I'm at Goldman Sachs now, sometimes that
first job still pops into my head - particular in the
summertime, when I remember sweating in that airplane hangar."
Name: Bob Doll
Title: Chief equity strategist and senior portfolio manager,
Nuveen Asset Management
First job: Newspaper delivery boy
"I must have been 12 years old at the time, lived in a
Philly suburb called Churchville, and delivered the Philadelphia
Evening Bulletin, which no longer exists. I only had two days
off a year, July 4 and Christmas Day, and did that for six years
starting in the seventh grade.
"I had my own little bicycle with a basket on the front of
"That job really taught me how to handle money: I spent 10
percent of what I made, gave away 10 percent and saved 80
percent for college. I ended up paying for a third of my college
that way. Another third was covered by a scholarship from the
Evening Bulletin itself.
Name: Jack Bogle
Title: Founder, Vanguard Group
First job: Pinsetter
"I had a few jobs when I was very young, but the most
backbreaking one was setting pins in a bowling alley in a fire
hall in Sea Girt, New Jersey, in 1942 when I was around 13 years
old. I have never had a job in my life that I thought of as work
- except for that one.
"It wasn't very complicated, but it was so hard. Sisyphus
had it exactly right: They knocked 'em down, you picked 'em up.
There was no way you could ever make any progress.
"I did that for six months after school, and got around 50
cents an hour. Finally, technology outmoded me, when they
brought in automatic pinsetters.
"Working at such a young age taught me about the most
important things in life: Get there on time, take responsibility
and do the very best you can. And when you're through doing
that, do a bit better."
Name: Doug Kass
Title: President, Seabreeze Partners Management
First job: Nader's Raider
"I was getting my master's at Wharton at the time, and Ralph
Nader had gone to Princeton University to debate. I went up to
him at a cocktail party afterward and said, 'Mr. Nader, I'd like
to work for you.' In those days, in the '60s, we all had social
consciences. Working for Ralph Nader was the equivalent to
getting a job with Goldman Sachs. He said, 'Send me your
"So one night, after getting drunk at a bar called Smokey
Joe's, I finally went to bed around 3:30 in the morning. At 6
a.m., Ralph Nader calls me, and said he needed someone with a
business background to work on a project with him. At first, I
thought it was one of my friends screwing around with me.
"After that, I started to work with Nader at the Center for
the Study of Responsive Law. I ended up co-authoring the book
'Citibank' with him, which gave me my entree into the investment
"His assistants were all called Nader's Raiders. None of us
had our own offices; it was all open workstations. I remember
sitting next to another young guy, Mark Green, who would later
run to be mayor of New York City, and a pimply-faced red-haired
kid by the name of Michael Moore."
Join in the conversation: Tweet your first job with the
#firstjob hashtag or tell us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/ReutersMoney