My father's younger sister left Moscow in 1979. I'm not sure whether she was the first Jewish/Russian immigrant to discover Brighton Beach, but she definitely found it before Russian became its primary language. In 1991 she invited my family to the United States. By that time my aunt had divorced and re-married. Her new husband was a rabbi who led a congregation in Cheyenne, Wyoming. With apologies to Wyoming, thankfully we did not move to Cheyenne, but settled about 100 miles south—in Denver.

After folding towels at the health club, busing tables at the Village Inn, and bagging groceries, my first real job was at an investment firm in Golden, Colorado. I was a junior at the University of Colorado. I was hired because of my computer skills. I wrote a database application that they still use today. They didn't have anything else for me to do computer-wise, so I was promoted to head trader. (Okay, I was their only trader.) Trader was a glorified term for my actual position since all I really did was call or fax buy and sell orders. But the job gave me an opportunity to spend a lot of time in front of a Bloomberg terminal and allowed me to talk stocks with portfolio managers. It did not take me long to realize that I loved investing. I changed my major for the sixth and final time, and the rest was history . . . well, almost.

I wanted to be an analyst and they did not need one, so I pulled out the Yellow Pages and sent my résumé to every single investment firm in Denver. ...

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