Why Billionaire Home Depot Founder Ken Langone Took A Secretary's Salary At His First Wall Street Job


Some of the most successful people on Wall Street, have gotten where they are in ways you might not expect.


Take the case of Home Depot founder, billionaire Ken Langone. In an interview with finance career site OneWire, he explains the winding road he took to finance, and its no standard story.

His grades in college weren't conventional:

"Bucknell [University] used to send out a snapshot of where you stood in your first 8 weeks of the semester, and I was literally getting an F in every subject I took. I was taking a course in basic economics, sand [the professor] handed out all the papers with the grades. After the class, he announced he wanted to see me. He took the exam out and threw the paper on the desk and said 'That is the worst English I have ever read in my entire life. I had to struggle to understand what you were saying, but once I figured it out, I've never had a freshman that understood the concept of supply and demand better than you.'"

And the way he got to his first job at a bond trading firm wasn't conventional either:


"I decided I was going to go to Wall Street and I was introduced to some people...I met a guy who knew a bond trader at Pressprich, and he got me to meet him and the guy that ran their sales department, Jack Collin. And he said 'We can't hire you, we're like everybody else in the street, trying to control our overheads.'

So I turned around and I left, and then I went back up upstairs and asked to see Jack Collin again. I said, 'What do you pay your secretary, a 150 a week? OK, pay me a 150 a week. I'll run classes three nights a week in accounting and securities analysis for your trainees. But there's one hook- you have to give me every account you're not doing business with. In 3 and a half years I was made a partner.'"

Ultimately Langone founded Home Depot and turned 3,000 kids that started out pushing carts in his store into multi millionaires.

Watch the rest of the interview below and subscribe to OneWire's interview series here.