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The Minyanville Mission: An Interview with Todd Harrison


People who are good at what they do, but better at what they are.

Damien: What made you decide you were done being a trader first and you knew Minyanville was your passion, your life of meaning ... that one idea you wanted to jump on and put your life energy into?

Todd: I remember this very clearly. I had a massive Citigroup position -- at the time it was still Citicorp. Barron's, I believe, just came out with a cover story. I had a big short position and the story was positive. I remember waking up in the middle night because I had a dream Citigroup's (C) building was actually chasing me down the street! I woke up in a cold sweat. I went to the bathroom and splashed water on my face at like 3 or 4 in the morning.

I looked in the mirror and thought, "Man, what's it all about? Am I going to spend my entire life trying to make money? Where is the social utility? What am I going to leave as a legacy? Are they going to put on my gravestone, 'He had a good feel for the market'?"

I started to watch what was happening after the dot-com crash and how we weren't allowed to take our medicine called a recession because the Fed gave us drugs for our mass disease. I remember thinking, "This one is not going to end well."

I very much wanted to create positive change through financial understanding. I wanted to use my skill set to help educate other people. There are other things that happened in terms of the platform at which folks will learn about in upcoming installments of Memoirs of a Minyan. But my main focus was really between the mission of Minyanville and the Ruby Peck Foundation for Children's Education, which I started after my grandfather passed away.

It's been a journey laced with serendipity. It has not been easy. But, it has paid off dividends in ways that have nothing to do with dollars, things that are tangible, or in other traditional ways.

Damien: It sounds like a wonderful journey. What has Minyanville been up to more recently? What are your future plans for the childhood and young adult education component of Minyanville?

Todd: Knock on wood, I take nothing for granted. We continue to grow nicely. We just finished a very solid quarter. Our business model is very unique. Our focus is the entire vertical of finance from ABCs to 401Ks. For children, we have MinyanLand which is approaching our 500,000th child. We are teaching them earning, spending, saving, and giving through a massive multi-player online game.

We are building out our content profile throughout that learning ladder, all the way up to adults. The adults learn at UMV: University of Minyanville. I was very humbled in December when we won the Emmy Award for New Approaches to Business & Financial Reporting as a result of Hoofy & Boo.

I'm very proud of the entire team here. We're up to 27 full-time employees, 40-something writers, and we continue to grow. So, the vision is to expand upon the foundation that has been built.

It's interesting when people say nice things about Minyanville. I kind of shrug a little bit -- not in a flippant way, but a shrug that says I don't want to hear it because in my eyes Minyanville is not a success, yet. Minyanville is in the top of the 2nd inning in terms of where it is going.

I always say if Disney (DIS) can take 2 rodents and brand them as cultural icons, we can take the Wall Street Bull & Bear and create positive change through financial understanding. We're still in our infancy in terms of mind share, despite a million plus uniques coming to Minyanville each month.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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