Curtis Carroll faces a group of inmates in San Quentin explaining that the only difference between the wealthy and poor comes from just four steps. Each is simple …
1. Save Lots.
2. Control Costs.
3. Borrow Prudently.
4. Diversify Thoughtfully.
Academic research has shown that families stewarded by people who have made money raise children who are far more likely to thrive financially. Unfortunately, Mr. Carroll was born into an Oakland family more akin to a ‘Breaking Bad’ episode.
His single mother and grandmother suffered addictions to crack. Curtis received little guidance from his elders. He wiggled his way out of homework rendering himself illiterate.
The only thing he learned was that he hated school. Curtis was eventually forced onto the streets with his brother at an early age — homeless.
A gang took him in. Then a robbery ended in murder.
Curtis Carroll has lived in jail for two decades since age seventeen. He has thirty-four years left on his sentence. The light at the end of his tunnel is two hundred dollars and a hard shove out of the prison gates.
“Do You Play Stocks?”
… a fellow inmate asked one day. Curtis was baffled. He listened intently as the man explained “This is where white people keep their money.” The conversation ignited Mr. Carroll’s definite major purpose of succeeding in equity investments.
To do so required the ability to read.
He focused his burning desire on deciphering popular t-shirts and wrappers of candy he ate.
As his literacy grew he consumed the financial media. The world of Wall Street came to absorb the attention of every fiber of his being. Curtis studied the market every day until collapse from exhaustion.
He recorded and tracked his stock picks on paper in an envelope stuck to his cell wall.
The San Quentin nickname of Curtis Carroll quickly became “Wall Street.” His following has grown.
Every Thursday night, according to National Public Radio (NPR), about a hundred inmates meet to hear his purely positive message that even though people are in prison that they are on the same ground as Warren Buffet. Inmates working with parents, siblings and spouses on the outside can invest in the same stock Buffet buys and sells. They can’t buy as many shares, but they can buy shares in the same firms.
Warren Buffet’s Top 10 Stock Investing Rules
The San Quentin Freeman Capital financial literacy inmate group of Curtis “Wall Street” Carroll teaches wisdom straight from the lips of the Oracle of Omaha …
1. Save and Persist. Only a burning desire directed persistently at the definite major purpose of succeeding in stocks can carry you through.
2. Live Lavishly Frugal. Focus your attention on each household expense to determine the best use of your funds. When you spend money on anything from a car to household furniture determine the best balance between cost and long-term utility.
3. Minimize Risk. Develop as many alternative scenarios that can play out after you invest your money.
4. Think First. You always have the most choices before you lock up your savings. Think your defensive tactics through before you invest.
5. Cut Losses. Cut your losers, ride your winners. Plan your maximum allowable loss beforehand.
6. Seek High Potential. Invest in companies with proven management at the helm. Follow managers you would be delighted to have in your family.
7. Limit Debt. Don’t buy stocks wallowing in other-peoples-money (OPM). Cash out credit cards each month.
8. Cultivate Fearlessness. Buffett says that he can tell who has been swimming naked when the tide goes out. Buy great stocks on the cheap just after a major market crash. Act when other investors tremble.
9. Compound Your Gains. Reinvesting your profits is the best way to really get your money working for you.
10. Become Steady As a Rock. An iconoclastic think-for-yourself mentality is the only road to investment success. Shun chit-chat regarding stocks tips, rumors and investment newsletter recommendations that poison your independent thinking and action.
Warren Buffett doesn’t measure success in terms of a lavish lifestyle. He measures success by the degree to which he squeezes every drop of potential profit out of the investment portfolio he stewards.
He follows his own internal score-card. An ever frugal Buffett shuns glossy external displays (score-cards) of wealth commonly projected by Wall Street Fortune 500 CEOs.
Buffett’s frugality rings true throughout the history of financial greatness.
Think and Grow Rich
At the turn of the last century the richest man in the world commissioned a young man with the unlikely name of Napoleon to document a universal philosophy of wealth. After decades of unpaid toil ‘Think and Grow Rich’ became an enduring best-seller that has inspired millions.
Case in point is another destitute lad, not unlike Mr. Carroll, who decided to shun poverty after reading a discarded copy of Think and Grow Rich.
W. Clement Stone had tired of throwing rocks at stokers tending steam locomotive coal tenders out of horror of the possible injury of others. He had been doing what he had to do to survive. This action helped his family heat their home in otherwise lethally cold northern winters with lumps of coal boiler-men threw back.
CEO Stone rose to great wealth at the top of the insurance industry teaching others to “Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living your life with integrity.”
Curtis Carroll follows the same path as W. Clement Stone and Warren Buffett helping inmates guide family members on the outside to wise investment decisions. Mr. Carroll teaches in atonement of past destruction with hope that his paroled friends fall into the loving arms of wealthy families rather than badass gang-bangers. -Doc Brown
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