Carles Schwab

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorUniversity, Master's February 2008

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Charles Schwab is a master of reinvention, but then, he's been doing it since he was a kid.

He started his entrepreneurial life selling walnuts. Not the plentiful black walnuts, mind you, but the rarer English walnuts that could bring in more money.

At 12, the young Californian switched to collecting and selling eggs. A year later he was fully integrated, selling the chickens as fryers and mixing their droppings with straw to make fertilizer for local gardeners. But it was labor intensive and time consuming, so he sold out - for a profit he says - and recreated himself as a golf caddy. Here he learned that the better the job he did, the bigger the tip.

"I learned early on that the only way you could make an enterprise successful was to find a profitable business idea, do what was needed to make that idea real, then put in whatever time was needed to turn a profit," Schwab writes in Charles Schwab's Guide to Financial Independence: Simple Solutions for Busy People.

The continual reinvention continued through Schwab's years at Stanford University, where he worked variously as a tractor driver, a roustabout on oil fields, a railroad switchman and a bank teller. He also sold insurance and insulation.

Despite the number of incarnations, however, there was one constant - customer relationships. Schwab was quick to realize that the route to money is through relationships. "I think any business is essentially about relationships. And, I think the way you develop your customer base, your consumer base, is by having important and in-depth relationships," Schwab told

But while he was succeeding with his business ventures, Schwab was struggling with the written word. To get through reading lessons he had to resort to comic book versions of literary classics. And...