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The Key To Success: Passion


Chase your dream, even if your first job is dull.

Minyanville Professor Greg Weldon's first passion was the pits.

One day 23 years ago, Weldon met a high school friend at the New York Commodity Center and planned to take him out for a drink. He walked onto the Comex trading floor and was instantly captivated by the energy and pace of the trading pits.

"I met Stanley Bell who owned the largest floor operation at the exchange," says Weldon, a commodity trading advisor, president of Weldon Financial and publisher of Weldon's Money Monitor, Metal Monitor and ETF Playbook. "We talked basketball and I asked him how to get started in commodities. I said I wanted to be an "inside player" like I was at Colgate. He loved the basketball analogy and offered Minyanville's Tips for June Grads me a job at the end of the conversation. I accepted - despite knowing absolutely nothing about the brokerage business or the markets."

Weldon majored in English at Colgate University, developing a fondness for the poetry of John Donne. Right out of college in 1983, he took a job with a telecommunications firm specializing in personnel management services provided by - get this, kids - dial-up access.

"My first job had nothing to do with my degree," Weldon says. "I hated it, but stuck with it for 18 months."

That job may sound like a candidate for the Smithsonian, but Weldon's experience from the pre-Internet Dark Ages is relevant to all June grads: Your first job may not be in your field. If so, find something you love and do it with passion.

Weldon says he called his old boss and quit when offered the job at Comex. (Not recommended unless, like Weldon, you know that you've found your true love and you're walking away from a crummy job.) He started his new job the next day and his passion for trading grew.

Weldon spent most of the first day at Comex observing and talking to traders. The boss made a point that sounded good to someone who hadn't fully shaken his undergraduate vow of poverty: Outside Hollywood and professional sports, trading may be the fastest way to make money.

On his second day, Weldon went to the "write-up room," an office below the trading pits where trades are reconciled. It sounded like a rock concert when the market opened and the trading floor came to life.

"The phone rang and the guy who ran the write-up room motioned that I should go to the trading floor," Weldon says. "I was put 'on point' between the gold and silver pits where the traffic converged because I'm 6-10, could hold my ground, pass trading slips over people's heads and get my hand signals seen. I had no clue what was going on around me - none. It was wild and I loved it."

He worked on the trading floor for three years and then took a huge pay cut to join Lehman Brothers (LEH) because he believed financial futures showed great potential while gold and silver trading would, at best, remain static.

"It was one of the best moves I ever made," Weldon says. "I learned about currencies, fixed-income and stock indexes, especially the overseas markets, and the connections between all markets."

Weldon met Louis Bacon, and two years later, joined him as a trader when he launched Moore Capital, now one of the world's largest hedge funds.

He started Weldon Financial ten years ago and launched his own website,, in 2004.

"Those who want to start their own business need to be patient - very patient," Weldon says. "I went 18 months before I made a dime. You have to believe in yourself no matter how difficult it is to bring in new clients."

Hard work, discipline and determination are required, but aren't enough. Weldon says you need passion to succeed.

"Do something because you love it - not because you want to make money," he says. "You must have passion for what you do and satisfaction must come from within. Set yourself up for the kind of life you want."

If you don't, you'll be stuck in a job you hate and spend most of your time waiting for the weekend. That's no way to live and suggests a few lines from one of Donne's best-known poems:

…Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For who the bells tolls,
It tolls for thee.

The Web sites of major brokerage houses and banks offer solid financial tips to grads, including T. Rowe Price (TROW), Merrill Lynch (MER), JP Morgan Chase (JPM), Wells Fargo Bank (WFC) and Wachovia (WB).
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