12.18.2017

‘Tis the Season for Serendipitous Moments

By Jim Toes, President and CEO, Security Traders Association

James Toes - President & CEO, STA

Jim Toes, STA

Over the years, there are two stories I’ve stopped telling because simply, no one believes them. One involves a rattlesnake on the Delaware Water Gap, the other as you will read is more appropriate for this time of year. It is the story of how I got my first job on Wall Street. Having recently graduated from college with an interest in finance I took a bartending job at the South Street Seaport. With its close proximity to the financial center of the world, the bar provided a good location to hand out resumes. One night around this time of year a patron walked up to the bar and a conversation ensued. It turned out this man had a wife who worked in HR at a broker-dealer and he offered to pass on my resume. After the holidays passed, I received a phone call from her, which then led to an interview and my first job. That is the unremarkable and thus believable version of the story. The detail I intentionally leave out is the topic of the conversation with this patron that ultimately led to a serendipitous moment.

It’s a Wonderful Life, with Jimmy Stewart was and remains my favorite Christmas movie. We all know the story of George Bailey and his guardian angel, Clarence who is sent to earth to help George realize how many lives he had changed and impacted, and how they would be different if he was never born. George spent his life performing random acts of kindness for the people of Bedford Falls. It was this classic holiday film that we talked about that night in the bar. I’m not sure if it was the lengthy and at times, philosophical discourse on the enduring life lessons learned from the film or simply the effects of the spirits that inspired this man to deliver my resume. Regardless, his random act of kindness set me on a course of what is now a 32-year career on Wall Street.

The holiday season is a wonderful time of year. Recalling childhood memories and the anticipation of spending time with loved ones bring out the best in us. And when we are at our best, we perform acts of kindness. As we enter the last two weeks of 2017 we will come in contact with hundreds of people, from complete strangers to friends, co-workers, family and yes, even a few bartenders. If we let ourselves feel the holiday spirit, then hopefully before the ball drops in Times Square we will all get to experience a serendipitous moment through a random act of kindness.

On behalf of all STA members, we wish you and your families a safe and Happy Holiday season filled with joy and serendipitous moments.

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