Many years later, business entrepreneur Ed Hajim received the Horatio Alger award for exemplifying the values of initiative, leadership, and commitment to excellence -- despite personal adversity.
Hajim is the author of “On the Road Less Traveled, An Unlikely Journey from the Orphanage to the Boardroom.” It’s a memoir that describes the improbable story of how he bounced from foster homes to orphanages.
It was a daily struggle to survive, but Hajim flourished, ultimately becoming an accomplished Wall Street executive and model family man. And now, he is giving back to a world that seemed intent on rejecting him.
“On the Road Less Traveled” is packed with stories of how Hajim used his ingenuity to achieve his goals – like wangling a free plane trip to the west coast purportedly for an interview for a job he didn’t want – just so he could be the best man at a friend’s wedding.
Hajim is the son of a Syrian immigrant and now has more than 50 years’ experience in the financial industry. His bio reads like a who’s who of major investment companies in which he’s held senior management or ownership positions.
Ed Hajim, thanks for being with us today on Lean to the Left. It’s a pleasure speaking with you.
Q. Your life story is filled with many twists and turns. How were you kidnapped by your dad? What led to that?
Q. Did you ever find your mom? Tell us about that. What was it like to first meet her after 57 years?
Q. What was your relationship like with your dad? How did it evolve over the years? How did this affect your life choices?
Q. What did you learn from this adversity, and how did that influence your business career?
Q. In your book, you describe in many places the sadness and loneliness that you felt because of the lack of immediate family. Did that affect your decisions later in life, especially when it came to business and leading people?
Q. You fought poverty, but your memoir describes your ingenuity in finding ways to cover costs – money for college tuition, for example, including for tuition to Harvard Business School when you were, pretty much, flat broke. Talk to me about your determination to be financially independent and what ultimately happened.
Q. You write that “Sometimes you need to know when a partnership has run its course. And sometimes, it’s better to sever ties and leave on your own, even if the next step I unknown. That’s often the road less traveled, but it’s so worth the journey.” What were you referring to and why do you say it was “worth the journey?”
Q. You write in your memoir about the importance of obtaining a solid educational foundation, which you credit with making your life success possible. Can you elaborate on that? What advice do you give young people who want a higher education but for financial or other reasons are stuck and feel that’s an impossible dream?
Q. What have you done personally to support higher education?
Q. At the University of Rochester, you started a new magazine, from scratch. You wrote: “I loved putting projects and people together to solve a problem.” That’s pretty much your ultimate business story, right?
Q. You received a Navy scholarship, which meant you had to serve three years in the Navy. What did that do for you?
Q. You write: “The only constant in life is change. People change and businesses change. If you don’t adapt, you will not survive.” Can you please elaborate?
Q. We haven’t talked about the various companies that you worked for or owned. Can you take us on a quickie tour? I know, it’s a lifetime…
Q. What would you say were your most significant achievements...
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[00:01:51] Ed Hajim, thanks for being with us today on Lean To the Left. It's a pleasure to see.
[00:01:55] Ed Hajim: Oh, Bob, thanks for having me. I appreciate it verymuch. You've done your homework.
[00:02:00] Bob Gatty: Yeah. I really did enjoy your book. I I interview dozens and dozens of authors. And many times I'm fortunate enough to receive their books and I try to read 'em, I skim through 'em, but your book held me.
[00:02:21] It really did. And I, congratulate you on your work. I know that you are not a professional writer. Your, career was in finance. And investment and all that mysterious stuff. Stuff was mysterious to me.
[00:02:39] Ed Hajim: It was mysterious to me for a while as well. . Cause I was an engineer from the start.
[00:02:44] Bob Gatty: Oh. Anyway.
[00:02:45] Ed Hajim: It took me years to write the book. It was a labor of love. Trust me.
[00:02:50] Bob Gatty: Okay. It took you what, seven years did you say?
[00:02:53] Ed Hajim: More than seven years actually? Yeah, It was a, okay. And then we have, so I used to be embarrassed about recommending it, but I get comments like yours I picked it up and I couldn't put it down.
[00:03:04] So I, we sold 15,000 copies, which my publicist says is very good for non-celebrity. I spent my time trying to live hidden, staying away from the newspapers staying away from television and so forth. So when she took me on, she says, no one knows you , which wasn't so positive.
[00:03:21] Bob Gatty: There you go. But 15,000 copies. That is really, that
[00:03:26] Ed Hajim: I was, I guess it's good. I, don't know anything about the publishing business, but they, we have sold 15,000 copies in about 18 months.
[00:03:36] Bob Gatty: Wow. That's pretty good. I, believe that's, that is Okay. Now let's see here. Your life is I really, your life is filled with a whole bunch of twists and turns. Now, tell us the story about how you were kidnapped by your dad. You were only three years old. What was going on?
[00:03:54] Ed Hajim: It starts way back. I'm gonna try to leave that out. Dad, dad came as an immigrant was, got fascinated by technology called radio. Did extremely well in the twenties, was very wealthy he had a picture with his airplane and so forth.
[00:04:09] Lost everything in 33, between 29 and 33 went across country, met my mom two weeks later. He married her, carried her off to California. But the losing of the money and the Middle Eastern mentality and the whole works was just too much and he couldn't keep a job and so forth. So after, after I was born, three years after they were married, six years after him, my mother said just too much.
[00:04:34] Can't handle it any longer. It was extremely difficult to deal with. She decided to get divorced. So she got divorced and she got custody and he got five bucks a, week and visiting rights on Sunday. So she took me from Los Angeles, where we were living to St. Louis. Okay. He, she shows up on his Sunday visit after driving 1800 miles in a Ford, 1936 Roadster.
[00:04:57] Sees me, doesn't believe that I'm really well kept , he gets back on, instead of taking me to a movie, he gets on the highway and he takes me back to Los Angeles, calls my mother, tells her not to look for us. And basically says to me a few, I guess sometime later that she died. And I believe that for 57 years.
[00:05:16] So that, that's the beginning of the story. Wow. Yeah. And I, could go on about it, but it, that's the beginning story. Dad and I lived in hotel rooms and motel rooms, and I lived with the neighbors. He was a radio operator aboard a ship. So even during the two years we lived together before the war, he was away most of the time.
[00:05:34] Bob Gatty: Yeah. Now, did you ever find your mom?
[00:05:37] Ed Hajim: It's a great story. My dad died in 71. He died of a heart attack suddenly bang, done. And I got to the apartment and we sorted out his things and there was a suitcase full of all my letters and I started to go into them and I just couldn't handle it.
[00:05:50] So I closed the suitcase up 1971. 25 years later. Yeah, 25 years later, when I'm 60 years old my wife threatened to throw the suitcase away. She's a thrower away person. She cleans out things regularly and luckily it was a rainy Sunday. So I went into it and I found a package of letters I didn't recognize.
[00:06:10] And it turns out there was the idea that my mother was divorced and they, she didn't die. So I hired a special private detective, Schlang & Company, and they went back to St. Louis and they found her. She was 81 years old and her husband, her second husband had just died. And she's, and she they, wrote me and said we think this is your mother.
[00:06:32] So I spent a better part of two months deciding whether I wanna let this woman into my life. Cause my father described her as being terrible. Why would I, here I was a successful guy. I had family and a wife. Why did I wanna mess around and bring someone like this? And, but Barbara and I decided we would do it.
[00:06:47] And it turns out now we, she turns out to be a very nice lady, very good sense of humor. And it did wonderful things to me because it taught me that I wasn't only my father, I was this other person and she had some very different characteristics, which I had, which I couldn't find know, I couldn't find.
[00:07:02] So it was a really wonderful, she lived for 12 years. and she came partners with Barbara's aunt and mother who were in their nineties as well. She lived in 92 and her mother lived in, Barbara's mother lived in 98 and Barbara's aunt lived in 95 and Three Musketeers were, touring around for for 12 years together.
[00:07:18] So it was wonderful and she was a character and she, but she was a thinker and not a feeler. So when my father kidnapped me, she felt that baby. Since she was not very well, she was not happy with her parents. Her parents didn't really want to see her at 1939. You, don't wanna see anybody, especially a, somebody with a three-year old child.
[00:07:40] And my father was a feeler and not a thinker. He wasn't, didn't realize what a three-year old was, what the responsibility was he wanted me. And so that's what happened at that point in time.
[00:07:50] Bob Gatty: So your father was a feeler, not a thinker. Are you a feeler or a thinker?
[00:07:54] Ed Hajim: That's what's so wonderful is that my mother I'm, a little more of a thinker than a i have both, which is interesting.
[00:08:00] I'm quite emotional. Yeah. But I do I do a lot of thinking. This is what the book is all about too. And the second book that I've written is thinking about things. I would sit and write down my thoughts for year, every year, just about and, I believe that I'm passing that on to young people. Do more writing, do more thinking about yourself, about your family, about your work, about giving back. As I call it, the four parts of life. You gotta do a lot of thinking about all of them. Cause they're all quite complicated.
[00:08:28] Bob Gatty: Ultimately did your relationship with your dad improve what happened?
[00:08:35] Ed Hajim: dad was all I had. And, he was he gave me know, my, the first ghost writer wanted me to hate my father. I didn't hate him. I loved him. It was all I had. And he was, even though he was abandoned me three specific times, completely went to see he disappeared when I was 15 and so on. But he, every letter he ever wrote me, every conversation we had, he said, kept telling me how great I was, how, what a wonderful person was.
[00:08:59] And he had rules like, cleanliness is next to godliness. Always take care of yourself. Eat the right food. So he sent messages which were very positive, and he gave me unconditional love. I, one of my letters when I was 10 years old, it's in the book basically said, dad, I'm not always a good kid. Cause I got tired of him saying you're wonderful.
[00:09:17] It's always the other people's fault, not your fault, and so on. So he gave me unconditional love. We started to grow apart when I after my college I, was in the Navy for three years and I left the Navy and he said not a good idea. He was very upset. because when he left the Navy, that basically that was the best part of his life.
[00:09:36] And then when I left engineering to go to business school, he was further negative on me. Then we had a complete falling out when I married my wife, because I guess she looked a little like my mother. And she came from the same part of the world too, and he was very upset about that and he disagreed with me marrying her.
[00:09:53] So we, we moved apart, we were estranged, but no, but we grew back together. Once I had a couple of. He came up and so forth. It never was a a warm relationship after all those years. And of course, as I got older, I realized that he hadn't really done what he should have done for me, but he died suddenly, which was very sad.
[00:10:11] I actually, I didn't believe in my area. You didn't go and get help. But after he died, I went and got help and the woman was fabulous for six months. I wrote letters to him and he and I then wrote letters back from him. I wrote the letters. And I took her those letters to the gal, every, the Ackerman Institute in New York, and she would analyze, so I'd ask these questions to him and I'd try to answer em myself.
[00:10:34] And after six months, I was able to cope with the fact that, he died suddenly and I didn't have closure.
[00:10:39] Bob Gatty: Okay. How did the adversity that you went through with that personal family relationship, how did that. Affect your life?
[00:10:53] Ed Hajim: That's what I pitch these young people that don't have the best of backgrounds.
[00:10:57] I think a lot of my disadvantages became advantages. Think, about being in 18 to 20 different places before you're 18 years old. What do you develop? You do up adaptability. When you go from one school yard to the next, you learn how to get into the group again, if you. Another schoolyard.
[00:11:14] You really have now become professional in that. So I actually not, I seek change. I understand change. Like I'm not afraid of change because of those many changes and there were terrifically different circumstances. The first four storm was terrible, the last one was great. Some of the schools were better than the other.
[00:11:32] Getting on an airplane, flying to New York, living in the Y M C A for a summer with God knows what kind of people in New York. No, all those things were positive. So that basically gave me adaptability. I was in, in my business career. I was not afraid to take on any responsibility. I Some of the big mistakes I made was not, being afraid of taking on certain responsibilities, but it also gave me resilience.
[00:11:53] Resilience is a muscle you make you, if you go through a childhood, which is difficult like mine, you gain resilience, you gain perseverance, and then if you get through it, you have a certain amount of self-confidence and also you appreciate, I. I really when you go through that kind of, you appreciate everything.
[00:12:09] Even though when I went to college, it was not a great start. It was better than the orphanage so you, appreciate the next step every time. And so I've been very lucky in, in my own career. And so I appreciate, I have gratitude now for all things. So those things, now you do develop, you do have some things in your childhood which you have to overcome.
[00:12:27] I had anger and most young people who go through what I went through had anger. Because they, you wake up in the morning, every morning, you say, why me? Why, am I an orphanage? Why am I treated like this? Why? When we were in the orphanage, we had these signs on our head, kids from the home, and certain mothers wouldn't let you date their daughters, and so on and so forth.
[00:12:47] Bob Gatty: You had what? Yeah. Signs on your head
[00:12:51] Ed Hajim: you went, when you move in the orphanage and you were in the neighborhood. Yeah. You basically had a sign on your head that said, this kid's in the orphanage okay. Did nobody's mother want you to take her daughter out?
[00:13:01] Hell no. Why, could you get somebody regular? With a family and so forth and so on. Yeah. Anyway and but why me? But you have to take that anger, and that's again what I, you said a lot of thinking to channel that anger, not externally. Channel it internally toward doing better.
[00:13:18] And that of course gives you energy. So that was actually a positive as well. It was a negative for a while. As early I was an angry young man and I threw tennis rackets and growled a lot. And even when the business, I threw telephone occasionally, but you over, you overcome it and you realize you channel it and energy back into being successful and, but it also helped me in understanding.
[00:13:39] When I went, what I went through I, just met a lot of different kinds of people when I was in the Navy. I could relate to all the enlisted men because no matter what kind of background they had I, could feel for them and understand them. Same thing in business. And it allows you to read a resume really well.
[00:13:56] Bob Gatty: Yeah. When you were Trying to come up with money for Harvard Business School, for example you went through a period there where you didn't have any money, you were scrounging around from job to job, right?
[00:14:12] Ed Hajim: I got outta the Navy and I'd saved up a couple grand in the Navy. I worked a year as an engineer at Hercules, saved another car.
[00:14:18] I had $5,000 and I wanted to go to Harvard Business School and that was the tuition for one year. And so I applied and somehow I got in. In those days they didn't have scholarships.. So I arrived at the Harvard Business School and I walked in, I said, I just have enough money for tuition. I haven't got money for tomorrow's breakfast.
[00:14:34] The guy grimaced at me in those days, in 1962, they, weren't that happy with you if you didn't have money, cuz everybody, it seemed to, everyone of my classmates went to Princeton, I think. And but they, I said, I really don't wanna work. Cause I worked all through college and I really felt I didn't get all the education I wanted.
[00:14:52] Flipping hamburgers and working on the library and, laundry and so forth, right? And the guy said it was sympathetic deal. So he lent me money for the for the second year tuition and gave me some stipend to I to live on and wasn't in. So I owed him money when I left business school, but it was a better deal than, having to work.
[00:15:09] And I worked the summer between business school, had a pretty good job and made some money there. But I refused to work physically work as a in, in high school I worked in all kinds of, Perry said, what's your worst job being a pin boy with no pin setters? .
[00:15:25] Bob Gatty: Oh, tell me about it.
[00:15:26] Oh, with no pin setters. Oh, yeah. I was a pin boy back in the day. Yeah.
[00:15:34] Ed Hajim: Best paying jobs you got paid per line and that was a pretty good deal. You had to hire bond on that barrier and pins bounced off the barrier and came running out and put 'em back on again.
[00:15:43] Bob Gatty: I only got paid 10
[00:15:45] Ed Hajim: cents.
[00:15:46] 10 cents a line. I, think that's what it was. .
[00:15:49] Bob Gatty: Yeah. I didn't mine at it in France. My dad was in the military and my first job was a pin setter in the post bowling alley. . . I would, yeah. Where will I tell you this story? And then I got a job working in the px. I was a security guard.
[00:16:12] Oh. The reason why they hired a security guard was because 45 RPM records kept. Making their way out the door without disappearing. Stopping, yeah, without stopping at the cash register. And miraculously, when they hired me as a security guard, those thefts just stopped
[00:16:35] And I was the chaplain's kid. It would've been a ma a major scandal, if anything.
[00:16:43] Ed Hajim: That's really funny that , you were the chaplain son? No.
[00:16:47] Bob Gatty: Wow. . Yeah. All right, . But this thing is, this podcast is about you now.
[00:16:54] Ed Hajim: No, but that's great to say. That's what I found in my book. I've learned more about people.
[00:16:58] They write back. I get long emails about what about them? I could write. Oh yeah, people read my book.
[00:17:04] Bob Gatty: Yeah. That's really fascinating. Let me see here. Where was I? You are right that sometimes you need to know when a partnership has run its course. Now we're jumping ahead because now with this question you're, in business and you're, running the show in the, at these.
[00:17:27] At, these companies. But at, one point in I recall in your book, you talk about how you, left a job or I left a, yeah. I, and it was more than a job. I think you were running the place, but I don't remember exactly. At any rate you write that sometimes you need to know when a partnership is run its course, and it's better to sever ties and leave on your own.
[00:17:56] Even if you don't know what you're doing next then you say that's often the road less travel, but it's so worth the journey. What were you referring to? Can you explain what you referring?
[00:18:06] Ed Hajim: Most of my life, I had a couple of tenants, which I used in working. One was the people and what probably the most important thing.
[00:18:13] The second thing was what the what, where the people were going. and I can go excited. A couple things to, express what you just looked at. One was at EF Hutton I really liked the, CEO was a buddy of mine. We talked almost every day, but he was going in the wrong direction. And after three years I said, Bob it's just not working.
[00:18:31] You wanna stay in retail business then the, future is institutional. And I was the institutional manager and I said, we just can't do that. And Lehman Brothers at the time was out to hire somebody to start their institutional business and they were offering me everything in the under the sun. And I went to my point to my boss, I said, you gotta take the institutional business and take, he was, no, we've done enough of that.
[00:18:52] You're affecting my whole company. I said, you, I said, I'm profitable and it's the future. So I left Hutton to go to Lehman, which probably wasn't a good idea cuz Lehman was a pretty tough place. And in Lehman, my partner, there was a guy that didn't, I didn't like. So the people part of it was negative from the very.
[00:19:08] and he didn't like me. In fact, in the book called Greed and Glory and Wall Street, it says Gluxman hated Haem. And we were both partners. I was on the board of directors. I had almost as much stock as he had and so on, but he hated me, supposedly. And we struggled for seven years. And here again, this is severing, they were going in the right direction, but he wasn't.
[00:19:27] So I'd severed that relationship. And then finally when I sold the company to i n g, it was my very end of my career. I'd gotten to the point where it just wasn't wasn't really working. They didn't understand the US market. They had split my company in half and so forth, and it was time for me to leave.
[00:19:44] I've had someone says, you read my book, you really couldn't keep a job. Really wasn't true. I was 20 years at Furman Selz, which is another whole story. When I left Lehman Brothers, it was very important to me to go back and think about who I am and what I wanted. I could have gone to another prestigious firm.
[00:20:01] Instead, I went to a little tiny firm called Furman Selz, where my office, instead of looking over the entire harbor, looked at a brick wall.. In the dining room instead of being guys in white gloves and the finest dining room on Wall Street. It was a couple hot plates in the conference room. But I, that's what I really, wanted to do.
[00:20:17] But I was there for 20 years now, different iterations. I was there for five years in independent. We sold it to Xerox, then I, then we basically bought it back. So then another five years we finally sold to I N G and I was at I N G for four or five years. But each time I had these two main principles, the people, and where they're going and they're going the right direction. And we ferman sell. We went in the right direction for 20 years. And so I stayed there, but we didn't because I was directing the, store there cuz I was the ceo. I also, I guess one of my problems, one of my tenets is I wanted freedom.
[00:20:46] That's one reason I went to Furman Selz. I didn't want people over me. Oh, I didn't want a lot of politics also. So it was a kind of, what you do basically is you start to understand yourself and what really you are good at and what you really want. And I found that in my mid business career. I found that out luckily, and went to a smaller firm and we built it for 20 years basically.
[00:21:08] but that those, that's the, as you say it's worth the journey and try to leave on your own terms. Each case. I, wasn't fired, but I I left and I left, went, and then I had time to use my energy to figure out what the famous words at the end of my book, what's next. Now, that's the most important thing you do in your life is what's next.
[00:21:28] Stop thinking. Yeah. Ask what's next. What's next can be the, same thing you're doing. , but Reg regularly on three to four, five year basis, especially to now with technology and so forth, what's next becomes somewhat different. And of course you get to a certain age, like you and I you find out there's something else out there like writing a book.
[00:21:45] Yeah, that's right. You've done pretty well with your book and I congratulate you on that cuz being an independent author, I can tell you from experience is a difficult task.
[00:21:58] I lose money on each book I sell. Okay, get that. It's the most terrible business I've ever been in my life.
[00:22:03] Bob Gatty: It's not as bad as podcasting.
[00:22:05] Ed Hajim: Oh okay. I won't do any podcasting. Thank you. Then
[00:22:10] Bob Gatty: all I do is spend money on, various aspects and. And you know what comes back is No. The peanut,
[00:22:18] Ed Hajim: when I signed, not even peanut they, got me a publisher. I was gonna self-publishing the, oh, he got a publisher and the guy was very excited about it.
[00:22:25] He took, he gave me a big stipend up front. A thousand dollars, and then he took 90% of the revenues. I said, doesn't sound so good for me.
[00:22:33] Bob Gatty: that's not a good deal. No. , but alright, so I want to get back to a couple of things. One line struck me that, I found in your book and, I've heard this many times in, my business career.
[00:22:49] The only constant in life is change. People change and business change. If you don't adapt, you will not survive. Sounds to me like you said that your trek through all these different companies, some people said you couldn't hold a job. I found it to indicate that this guy figures out, knows how, somehow knows how to take the next step, whether it's a way or, creating something new or whatever.
[00:23:17] Somehow within him he had the, insight to know when, that change was needed. Was that, am I right there?
[00:23:27] Ed Hajim: Exactly. And I think that's absolutely essential for be successful. You've gotta be sensitive to the waves and the cycles and the themes that are playing out. You sit still too long and you don't change.
[00:23:39] And I used to kid about this at Furman Selz. We, I said, you gotta jump to the next lily pad almost every year, cuz you know, lily pads get full and then they sink. You gotta keep going and figure out what's next. All the time, or else you really do lose out. I'm a Rochester person. I went to the University of Rochester.
[00:23:55] Kodak is a perfect example. It was a great company that sat still and died, Poloroid the same way. In my book I talk about, and CDs People could CD forever. You can't even find a cd. Can't find a CD player today. Music, has changed.
[00:24:13] So change is very important, especially the technology. I'm trying to get the school, Rochester's gonna teach a life design course, which I'm very excited about. I wanna teach a course in technology and its effect on the system. because it really changed to go back to the 15th century without printing press you never would've had partisanism.
[00:24:32] And today the, amount of the A, this whole AI thing is huge and it's gonna change every digitalizations changing everything. Zooming is changing everything. So, I think that technology and change is so vital to everybody's career today. And I think that they have to pay attention to it.
[00:24:48] And I was very lucky early on, I, in investing, I said the way to make money big money was to find a theme or an unsatisfied demand or, a need that was not, being satisfied. And by the way, it's not necessarily the only money in finance and so forth. A friend of mine is a, he says he does surgery on curvature of the spine.
[00:25:11] So he found where the greatest demand was in, Africa. And 30 years ago, he went to Africa. He was one of two surgeons that did that kind of work, and he's got a huge booming business. Doesn't make a lot of money, but he's saved a lot of lives and changed a lot of lives, but he found a place where there was great demand for what he wanted to do.
[00:25:27] And I think that's what you have to find out. I, kid about this, but the golf course I got founded in Nantucket, one of the big positives was there was late in demand for golf. People say you're crazy. You can't pay that much money for land. Nobody's gonna pay that much money for membership.
[00:25:42] There's just huge demand for golf on Nantucket. We, were wildly successful.
[00:25:49] Bob Gatty: Wow. That's incredible.
[00:25:50] Ed Hajim: Yep. Give, that's an interesting day. If you want, I'll send you my book on Nantucket golf course. It really is an interesting story.
[00:25:57] Bob Gatty: Sure. I'd love to have that.
[00:25:58] Ed Hajim: Cause we're the largest charity on the island now, which is pretty impressive. For a golf course
[00:26:04] Bob Gatty: That is. You've also talking about giving back, you've also donated a ton of money to the University of Rochester.
[00:26:13] Ed Hajim: I was very fortunate enough to, when I became the chairman of the board, I wouldn't be the chairman of the board. I went in and said, who gave the largest gift in the history of the university?
[00:26:21] And they said, George Eastman. I said, I'm gonna give a little bit more than he did. Of course in nominal dollars. but, they can make the statement. Then I gave the largest gift and of course we had then had a capital campaign and that was one of the nice things that got it going in the right direction.
[00:26:35] But it was to me it's all for scholarships. A scholarship changed my life, so I'm, I've given scholarships at 10 different institutions and I think that's still the, most important thing. You take the kid who makes it to 17 or 18 and can't take the next step, give him that little extra money that allows him to do that.
[00:26:52] I think that really is a life changer as far as I'm concerned. But he's gotta get to, or he or she has to get to that point. I think the other problems at the lower levels are significant too, but I can't do it all. So that's where I focus. My, my, charity I, say there, but I think there are 10 different places where I've, down to Westchester Community College Brunswick School, these are all schools in, but University of Rochester, Denver, Vermont, Harvard .
[00:27:18] Bob Gatty: Wow. Hey, you know what, ed, back 70 years ago, , 70 years ago, let's just say 75 years ago, whatever, would you ever have dreamed that you would be talking today about donating millions of dollars to colleges and universities when you didn't even have enough money to buy a Popsicle ?
[00:27:46] Ed Hajim: I, am so grateful and people have said you're my exist.
[00:27:49] How are you? I said, I'm grateful.. I never dreamed, never. I I didn't have one house, and at one point in my life I had four of 'em. There were almost five . No, it just it, that's why I tell people any, the reason I wrote this book, the main people gimme one line. Anything is possible in America. So I'm that's my main theme.
[00:28:08] Education's is my second line is education is a solution to everything. Those two lines make it up and then never be a victim. Those are three lines that I tell people, you can get outta my book. And it's really the answer. But I, I never dreamed ever that I would ever get to this point. And also having three children and eight grandchildren when I had I had no relatives, no aunts, no uncles, no cousins, nobody.
[00:28:32] And now I have, wow. And then finding my mother I, the funny stories, wow. She called up her son when she had the second husband, said, maybe Phil, remember that brother, you always wanted . I found him for you. And of course Phil was that he was 50 and I was 70. And so we've become very close friends and I've got another phase.
[00:28:52] He's three, three sons and we've come close to his kids and so on. Never, ever dreamed that I would have at my 50th reunion and have 20 people for a couple days of celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary. It's that I never dreamed of then giving, the largest gift in the history of Rochester is that's his, the kid ride with a sport jacket a leather jacket and a black leather jacket, and a suitcase for the wrong clothes, and immediately tried to get a job in the kitchen and, the first jar was rejected by all the fraternities, cuz I didn't have, and I didn't have any of the, I had no smooths at all. It was .
[00:29:28] Bob Gatty: Okay, now people get, get this picture. Now think here's a guy who, shows up at the University of Rochester, right?
[00:29:38] Ed Hajim: Rochester in Rochester, New York. By the way, I didn't wanna go there. I wanted to go to Cornell or RPI, but the, Naval Scholarship only gave four years of payments, so I couldn't, they all, both, the other two wanted in five years. So Rochester said they'll get me through and four. So I went there. Never, going to school.
[00:29:53] arrived by
[00:29:53] Bob Gatty: bus . Okay so, the guy shows up in the wrong clothes, wearing the wrong jacket. Feeling like a schmuck
[00:30:03] And, then what, how many years later? 50. 50 years later, 50 years later. The guy's making how much did you donate? 30 million. 30 million. All right. So . the guy, here's the guy. He the guy now has, what, do you set five
[00:30:21] Ed Hajim: houses or four houses? Houses? No, I'm down to two now, but I had one.
[00:30:24] Bob Gatty: He's down to two. He was, he's down to two now. How many jet airplanes you got?
[00:30:29] Ed Hajim: No I, fly private, but that's that's I'm, very, I'm blessed. Come on. One young fellow said to me, said, are you, I think you're lucky, you're blessed. I said, I'm both .
[00:30:39] Bob Gatty: Yeah, here he goes.
[00:30:41] I'm blessed . I fly private .
[00:30:44] Ed Hajim: Okay stuff now, Bob. Now let's stay on a stay on the surface here.
[00:30:50] Bob Gatty: Oh yeah. All right. So let's talk a little bit about your new book of "The Island of the Four Ps", a modern fable about preparing for your future. All right, there it is. "The Island of the Four Ps." so tell me what's, the point of this book and what's
[00:31:08] Ed Hajim: the point?
[00:31:08] It was the original book that I wrote, but the, ghost writer based couple, ghost writer said, you gotta write your biography first. So I did, this book was written back in, in 14 15, 20 15, 2016, what I believe Then this is a, basically a result of my graduation. I talked to 80 graduations over uh, the, 10 year period I was at Rochester and I needed something to talk about, and I went back and said, how the hell did I get, do what I did?
[00:31:34] And I found out that there was a structure that I used. I looked at my yellow pads and so forth, my decision making, and I came up with the four P's, passion, principles, partners, and plans. Find your passion. Establish your principles, find your necessary partners, and then develop your plans and write those down.
[00:31:53] And I said, there are four parts of life, four buckets of life, self, family, work, and community, which is the I word for giving back and based. I decided to write a book on that. And then I decided instead of writing a a here's how to do it book, I decided to write a fable like whom my cheese or the al.
[00:32:10] where it was something that people would be find would be more interesting. And I don't want it to be a book. This is what you do. No, I wanted a book. This is how you do it. And each person's individual, each passion person's passion is different. And you have to decide what your passions are and what your principles are and you know what, your partners are.
[00:32:28] And I know the partners find someone to love P one, as I call her. So the book, that's the book. And it's a to, it's a story about a young man who is on a boat and it's obviously me, he's got a navigator and a captain, which is obviously supposedly his mother and father, not my case, lands on an island, runs into an older man who's his guide, and they go to these four villages and in each village they talk about passions, principles, partners, and plans.
[00:32:53] It's a fable. It's, a, obviously it's a fiction. , but each time they talk about things, it allows the person reading the book to start to think about their own situation. And I think if, and I believe very seriously, there's only one constant in life besides change. And more, even, more than change is your inner voice.
[00:33:12] And I think it's important that you develop a, vocabulary, this may be a little esoteric, vocabulary for your inner voice, so that when you say something, it puts, it in a box, and you go back and look at that box. So that's, I have these eight boxes now. Self, family, work and community. And then the four Ps, passions, principles, partners, and plans.
[00:33:31] And I, I have my, I'm gonna as a third book and the, third chapter in the third book is gonna be the balance is, bold. There's no such thing as balance. You're always out of balance. Cause to be successful, you must focus. And as soon as you focus on one thing, other things get less attention and become out focus.
[00:33:49] So people who work too hard on their business normally don't have a good family life. So it is very important to know how out of balance you are not, let's say I'm in balance. You're never in balance by definition, almost time you dealing with crisis and family, you'll find out your work will suffer.
[00:34:04] Me I, had to, I closed down my business when I came basically to be the chairman of Board of University of Rochester. I was no longer gonna focus on the work. I was gonna focus on giving back, and I was gonna give that fulltime. and people that don't do that end up doing a poor job on both of them. So the book is interesting.
[00:34:21] I'm, doing a, an audio version of it too with Seven Voices, which is gonna be really fun. And if I have my way, I might do an auto, an animated film because the characters in it are, humorous and they're interesting. And you could develop a feeling that you know, that you're basically an older man's talking to a younger man, and they may be the same.
[00:34:40] Because one has experience and the other one doesn't. And is it you, are you really talking to yourself, looking back over your background? But what, It's important that the older man never says This is what you should do. He continues to pressure the younger man to make his own decisions.
[00:34:58] And then we have a young lady that shows up in the middle of the book too. So that's fun.
[00:35:01] Bob Gatty: That sounds like a fascinating book.
[00:35:04] Ed Hajim: It's easy. It's 150 pages. Those pictures are really the gal who did the illustrations. There's the island.
[00:35:11] Bob Gatty: Yeah, I see it. Okay.
[00:35:14] Ed Hajim: There's, something called a test mark.
[00:35:16] The, older man gives him this device, which he puts a P into it, and the p that becomes a pearl. And it basically, if you press that p it brings up a screen and keeps track of your thoughts. So what the press demark is, it's your mind. Okay. Because we all collect stuff except we don't do a good job of it because we forget things.
[00:35:35] But this thing doesn't do that. And I think in future, that's one of the things that people have to do. They've gotta make sure if they recognize what their passions were, how they change. And I, go through that in a speech that I make when I, give graduation speeches. I, to go back. And when I was a high schooler, my first passions came for I, baseball, basketball, math, science, and girls.
[00:35:56] and then led the college That morphed changed math and science morphed into engineering. Baseball and basketball for my freshman year morphed into extracurricular activities and girls stayed constant until, I got married. But it, those are the kinds of things people have to recognize that as you go on through life your passions change.
[00:36:14] But in addition, in the plans section, I make a very big point is one of the most important things is the context of your life. if you live 1900 to 1970, like my father did. Totally different living. 1936 to today, last 40 years have been unprecedented. People don't realize 1983 Dow Jones was 600. It's now 30,000.
[00:36:43] Wow. Think about that. Or the change. Yeah. A house you bought. We, bought this piece of land I'm living in it's gone up 30 times since I bought it now 30 years ago. Wow. Yeah. So you know that we live I, don't know if there's another period of history that's been as positive as this particular period.
[00:37:02] It had heads bumps. No, nothing's ever simple. But we've had a huge interest costs alone have gone down from from that, from the 1980s to today. They've turned around now. So it's it's an interesting experience, but let people understand that each period of history is a little different, where you are and so forth.
[00:37:21] Obviously in different parts of the world you're in is very important too.
[00:37:26] Bob Gatty: Okay. You know what, we have a couple minutes left and we, talked earlier, just briefly, you mentioned your wife Barbara. Your, book talks about that relationship, how. How that began, didn't happen. And then you end up getting married.
[00:37:46] She was somebody that you knew and she was, you were a lot older than her, right? Seven years. Your mother was a classmates.
[00:37:54] Ed Hajim: A year younger than me at Rochester. And yeah. Okay. She was seven years younger. I, He was the second editor of the Humor magazine, which I founded, which I could spend some time on, which is really fun.
[00:38:05] It was my first real, discovering my real passion. But anyway, I went to the house and, after I left there three days, she told her mother she was gonna marry me. She was 14. Six years later I became the best man at his wedding. And by the way get that free trip to California. But I ended up spending, I worked for that company and I was there for 10 years, and I married to Bridesmaid.
[00:38:27] Bob Gatty: So you, you did end up going to work for the company?
[00:38:30] Ed Hajim: I'll tell you. Funny story. But anyway but Barbara's been I, in my partner's section, you gotta find someone to love, find someone who will pay attention to you, find someone you can support, someone who will support you tell you're not standing up straight. You and you. Mustard on your face that, those are the things.
[00:38:47] Bob Gatty: And Barbara, and now were married 57 years and she's really a partner and she's helped me make decisions. You're gonna leave Nantucket. She says, don't leave Nantucket, we'll just build a golf course. And I built a golf course, which is crazy I came back, said, sell a house.
[00:39:02] I can't get into any of the clubs. She says, build a golf course. And now the golf course is one of the, things on, the island. And she she's raised three children and. she, has that whole other area. We do have a division of labor. She makes me look great. She gets all the cards and I sign them all..
[00:39:19] All the kids think that I'm really paying attention to them and I try to pay attention to 'em. she makes me pay attention to them. And she really a, she's a great partner for, everything I do. And look back at decisions we made 'em together. And she, but she's very different.
[00:39:36] She's, artistic and yeah, I'm scientific. I was an athlete and she wasn't an athlete. She now plays golf. She struggled for that for a long time. Yeah. But, so it's a real partnership and it's been a great partnership and I think that people should recognize that it's the ultimate for life.
[00:39:52] And when you're all done, what you ended up is, family and friends. And the most important part of your family is your partner. And I have these three kinds of partners that I ask people to have. One, find people who can do things you can't do. Find people who can do things better than you. , find people that can do things you do well, but you don't wanna do, and and Barbara fills in a lot of things I don't want to do.
[00:40:15] She does things I can't do. She's very artistic. We built a couple of houses. I'm great in spatial relations, I am lousy in colors and organization, things like that. And she does that. So we're really partners and it's been a great, thing. And she really is she really focuses on the children and the grandchildren.
[00:40:31] She, for example, She makes a Christmas stocking for each one of the children and grandchildren every year. It's wow. In needle point it's like painting a bridge. When you get done with the year, you gotta start the other one again. Start over again. . But she's very sensitive to this and she's also much more sensitive to just things in general than I am.
[00:40:50] And that's very important. We balance all pretty well. And, that's important. It's look a lot of. But it really was a, it's very important to have a partner like that if you can find. All right. I'd recommend it. Highly .
[00:41:03] Okay. Plus, she was cute, right? Oh,
[00:41:06] Ed Hajim: she was cute it was still she was young and the first time I called her up at, when I was up at school, I said to you like to come in Harvard.
[00:41:14] She said, yes. And I said, I'll fix you up with some of your own age. And I did
[00:41:17] Bob Gatty: Yeah. But then you ended up dating? Yeah.
[00:41:20] Ed Hajim: Did every once. And Then I proposed her underneath the Golden Gate Bridge at the Fort Point.
[00:41:27] Bob Gatty: Okay, there you go. So what's next for you? You're gonna sit around on your front porch and sip tea.
[00:41:35] Ed Hajim: No, my next is talking to guys like You I've got, I've wrote one book and I've sold a bunch of it, and the next one I've this next one's gonna be, I think I've hoping that it'll, do well and maybe even have an animated film out of it.
[00:41:47] What's next is communicating this life that I've had the people to convince them that anything is possible. I'm getting letters back from young people saying, one woman wrote me and said her daughter was just morabund. She's just laying around. She said, and she read your book and now she's going to college.
[00:42:03] I got a letter the other day from a gal who's freshman at Notre Dame and said part of the reason she's there is because she had a meeting with me at Northeastern. This is a it's, a great experience to me. It's very satisfying. I don't know where it ends. I still involve in stock market every day.
[00:42:21] I read, I get up in the morning at six 30 and I spend an hour and a half reading the news with Zoom. It's been great, cuz all my investment clubs have invited me back in. I have about four of those a week. I'm actually still, the chairman of a company in Boston. All I'm so frigging old, I don't think that they're gonna get rid of me one of these days.
[00:42:38] And I have a couple consulting contracts that I. . I play golf a couple times a week. So I'm not gonna sit, I'm not it was very, I'll give you the whole story. My secretary for 29 years called my wife about six months ago and said, is he ever gonna retire? And she said, I don't think so.
[00:42:55] So my secretary just retired
[00:42:57] Bob Gatty: and I got it. Every time I do a podcast, which I do weekly, , my wife says to me, I thought you were gonna retire. And I said this is my retirement. No, that
[00:43:08] Ed Hajim: I I'm, having a good time. I don't overwork. Yeah. I like 10 o'clock calls rather than eight o'clock calls. And all right.
[00:43:15] And then, and Zoom has done a wonder for me. Fox News asked me to come out to Chicago. I would not go to eight o'clock meeting at Chicago for Fox News for my book, but to zoom, no problem. And sure, technology has helped an awful lot. So I'm this is what's next. Really. I don't know where it's gonna take me completely one of these days I'd love to write a book, a real fictional book.
[00:43:35] See, cuz I, never read any fiction at all until about three years ago. And I don't know if Audible, has just changed my life. I've read, over, listened to over 115 different titles in the last year almost, two years. It's just, to me it changed. I used to hate, I walk every day.
[00:43:52] I used to hate the walk. Okay, now I love it. I can't wait to get there. Cause you know, Leon Uris, Ken Follett and now Wilber Smith, these people I, always reject him cuz I always said life is much better than fiction. But I, did, I'd rejected fiction completely. But some of the stuff was really yeah, then they, no, you, and in today's world between, Wordle and reading, and I'm also taking Spanish now from, something called Do Lingo.
[00:44:21] Do Lingo is great. It's a really, it's a language app that's just fabulous and I'm, I spoke Spanish at one point in time and I've worked in Central America and picking it up again is fun. . It's so good. You can do today. And I'm doing them, so I suspect, I'm hoping that, they carry me out at the last minute and I don't go down too bad before then.
[00:44:41] But still, then that's what's next. What's next though, is really the book. I wanna see where it really takes me, because publishing to me is, still a mystery then why why some books sell, why this book don't sell and they don't give you any information at all. Yeah I'm at least nine months back on how many books I've sold.
[00:44:58] Bob Gatty: Wow. Okay. It's been great talking to you. Where can people find your books?
[00:45:05] Ed Hajim: Amazon and Simon and Schuster. You can go to my website, which is pretty unfortunately, pretty robust. Is a, what is it? Wish to buy the book. You just type my name into Amazon and you get both my books. and I'd love to see you pre-order a little bit.
[00:45:21] There's a second book we can get a little pre-order and make my publisher happy.
[00:45:24] Bob Gatty: Okay. All right. Ed Hamim, thank you so much for being with us on Lean to the Left. It's been a pleasure. Enjoyed talking to you and going over, over all these stories about your career. I think people can learn a lot, so I thank you for being with us,
[00:45:42] Ed Hajim: Bob. Thank you for having me.
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