Orman, Suze


Orman, Suze
▪ 2000

      In 1999 American financial adviser Suze Orman released her latest material-spiritual tome, The Courage to Be Rich, in which she described money's “energy force”—positive thoughts will attract money, while negative ones will repel it. The book sold more than one million copies, topping the best-seller charts. Combining personal finance with personal growth, Orman offered basics on investments, as well as providing spiritual guidance. Although considered unorthodox, such “metafiscal” advice struck a chord with those seeking richness in both their bank accounts and their everyday lives, and by the late 1990s Orman's books, videos, and audiotapes were best-sellers, and she was a regular fixture on television and the lecture circuit.

      Born in Chicago on June 5, 1951, Orman was the daughter of Russian-Jewish immigrants. After graduating from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, with a degree in social work, she moved to Berkeley, Calif., where she became a waitress. Hoping to open her own restaurant, she collected money from friends and diners, but a stockbroker lost the funds in a series of bad investments. The experience piqued Orman's interest in finance, and she entered Merrill Lynch's stockbroker training program. As the first female stockbroker hired by the firm in northern California, she quickly displayed her unique style. At times using a crystal on her desk for guidance, Orman sought out ordinary people, such as small-business owners and truck drivers, rather than wealthy individuals, and before making any investments, she established a relationship with her clients in an effort to figure out “what made them click.” Her methods proved highly profitable, and by 1980 she was named account executive. In 1983 she joined Prudential Bache Securities as vice president of investments and four years later opened the Suze Orman Financial Group. After initial success, however, the firm was forced to close after a dispute over commissions with an employee.

      In 1994 Orman released You've Earned It, Don't Lose It, appearing on television's home shopping network QVC to promote the book. Aided by her onscreen energy and sincerity, as well as clear explanations and thought-provoking insights, it quickly sold out. Orman's follow-up, The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom (1997), was on the New York Times best-seller list for more than one year. Soon after, she began presenting workshops on public television, and her Financial Freedom hour was the most successful program in public television's pledge-drive history. A regular guest on Oprah Winfrey's television show from 1998, Orman also became a columnist for Self magazine.

      Orman's huge success attracted a number of critics, who scoffed at her New Age approach to money. Such detractors, however, could not deny that her simple descriptions of finance had turned many novices, especially women, into investors and that Orman had tapped into the fact that many people no longer defined wealth solely in terms of dollar signs.

Amy Tikkanen

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Universalium. 2010.

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