The Rules of Thumb blog from MoneyThumb is on a mission to enlighten and educate readers. Since Friday is always a good day to be inspired as we go into the weekend, we want to share highlights from this post at Make it Better. The blog article is titled, 7 Tips for Success in Business and Life From Chicago’s Most Successful Banker. The banker discussed in the article is Ed Wehmer.
Below is the beginning text of the article for your reading convenience, along with the first 3 of 7 tips for success in business and life Mr. Wehmer offers in the article.
"Looking for proof that living with “It’s a Wonderful Life” values can nurture great businesses as well as strong families and communities? Look no further than Ed Wehmer.
As founder, president, and CEO of Wintrust Financial Corporation, Wehmer is widely considered Chicago’s most successful banker. And you could say he’s an even more successful family man — the 35-years happily married husband, father of six and grandfather and in-law to many more has replicated and built upon the large family he grew up in as the fifth of six children.
During a conversation about his path through life, in his wood-paneled office overlooking O’Hare Airport, Wehmer explains that he didn’t intentionally chart this course. Rather, business and personal success followed naturally when he acted on strong values and good advice.
Here are seven tips and tenets that have guided Wehmer along his personal and professional path to success.
1. “Find your passion and make it happen.”
Wehmer grew up in Kenilworth, attending Faith, Hope & Charity grade school, then Loyola High School. He also worked in the Wilmette grocery store his grandfather founded.
By his high school senior year, the only thing Wehmer was certain of was that he did not want to attend the University of Notre Dame — the expected next step in his North Shore Catholic education.
“After the season was over, some teammates and I crowded into a car and took our Holden Caulfield trip, driving across Canada and the United States to explore alternatives,” Wehmer says.
After some soul-searching on his trip, he decided to matriculate to Georgetown University as a business major.
To this day, Wehmer uses that story to inspire others to “find your passion and make it happen.”
2. “If you don’t know what you want to do in business, be an accountant. You get paid to see all kinds of industries and ask dumb questions.”
By his 1976 college graduation, Wehmer knew he did not want to make a career in grocery stores, but he didn’t know what he wanted to do instead. So he acted on sage advice to try accounting, “because I would be paid to learn about all kinds of businesses and ask dumb questions.” He started at Ernst & Young, where he quickly discovered a passion for banking.
This turned out to be a wise move. Following the proliferation of big-box stores, the family business, like so many other independent groceries, folded.
Today, Wehmer is very proud that Wintrust bought the grocery’s Wilmette location for its most successful community bank launch of all — North Shore Community Bank.
3. “Learn how to merge.”
Wehmer’s mentor recommended he learn how to merge banks — shortly before a wave of consolidations hit the industry. By age 26, Wehmer was flying around the country helping banks consolidate.
Learning to merge still is great advice. Merging is a variation on collaboration. In these fast-changing times, the world belongs to smart collaborators. Families are stronger when members know how to collaborate effectively too."
The last 4 tips Ed Wehmer offers in the Make it Better article are 4. Marry Well 5. Find the right work/life balance 6. Treat people like you want to be treated 7. Doing right by your community is the secret to success. The article goes on to list dozens of awards Mr. Wehmer has received and his community and organizational involvement.
MoneyThumb especially enjoyed reading the article conclusion so we want to also share that with our Rules of Thumb blog readers in the text below:
"Wehmer’s story serves as the compelling inspiration to follow his example and pursue the “It’s A Wonderful Life” lifestyle, opening doors to a successful future for many more. Wehmer also credits his fifth-grade Faith, Hope & Charity teacher, Sister Seraphia, with providing him lifelong inspiration by teaching him the poem “It Couldn’t Be Done” by Edgar A. Guest, an excerpt of which he gleefully recites from memory to this day:
‘Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it;’
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.”
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