Chris Russo, RICP®
When I graduated from Oklahoma Christian University with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering (BSME) in 1998, I never dreamed of the journey that lay ahead of me.
Groomed by my college education for a standard, predictable 9-to-5 corporate job, I quickly found myself unsatisfied with the day-to-day duties involved in being a professional engineer. There were several reasons for it, but among them was the idea that no matter how good a job I did, I seemed to make very little impact on the bottom line. I was simply a very small cog in a very large machine. At the same time, I was earning a decent salary and wanted to be a good steward of my finances. In the process of discovering what investment options were available to me, I became obsessed with the stock market and immersed myself in learning all about day trading. These two factors together convinced me to quit my job in 2002 to trade stocks professionally.
Although I loved the analysis and strategy involved in the daily grind of trading, I quickly grew tired of the financial and emotional swings involved. Something else that always bothered me and kind of picked at my conscience was the fact that I was adding virtually no value to society and to others in this profession. I strictly traded my own funds and made money off of the temporary inefficiencies of stock prices, so I was essentially competing with other investors.
I quit trading after a couple years and pursued several other entrepreneurial ventures over the years but none of them really became long-term viable solutions for me. I was between opportunities in the fall of 2011 when I met with my parents’ financial advisor. They always had a great relationship with him and thought that I would enjoy the same line of work. Sure enough, after meeting with him I carefully considered all of my career options and decided to pursue this current calling wholeheartedly.
After being in the financial services and insurance industry for a few years, it reminded me of a book I read several years back by Malcolm Gladwell called Outliers. Some of you may have read it, but may not remember one of my favorite parts of the book where it talks about what makes a certain career choice fulfilling. He mentions three elements that are necessary:
This made me think back on my particular “road less traveled” since college, and to how none of my pursuits checked all three of these boxes. Now many of them included two, but there was always an element missing. I feel incredibly fortunate that I’ve found a career that meets all three qualities, allows me to help people at the same time, one and I can continue to enjoy for many, many years to come.