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February 16, 2009

Tomorrow's Promise

By Michael Scotti

Optimism that tomorrow will be better is a motivating force, even in tough times like these. That upbeat feeling can get one out of bed. It can turn around a person's life. And it can even boost the psychology of markets. As I write this, on the day that President-elect Barack Obama becomes president of the United States of America, there is hope that this country can lift itself out of the current economic quagmire and that our financial institutions can get back to health. Everyone agrees this will take time. But good traders will tell you that optimism is a key component in success.

There are two stories in our Inside Trading section that should uplift everyone. One is about a unique three-year-old brokerage called AltruShare, started by Peter Drasher and Dawn Edwards. When AltruShare was launched, the two traders gave two-thirds of the firm's ownership to two non-profit foundations, which share equally in the profits. So they took on all the risk, but only receive one-third of the profits. This is a remarkable story that has helped hundreds of inner-city students with their educational needs.

The other story is about GOAL, a non-profit organization that helps needy students in New York City move ahead with education and career development. The brainchild of Jeff Kaplan, head trader at Deerfield Partners, and co-founded by Lisa Kelly of BTIG, GOAL is hosting its 6th annual benefit on Thursday, March 5. The event, themed "Harlem Nights," will also feature traders in a battle of the bands.

You can read more about GOAL in this issue, but try to do more than that if you can. On a personal note, my mother grew up in East Harlem, before her family saved enough to buy a farm through a New Deal program. Just think. One of the kids you help through GOAL might one day be editing your trade publication or maybe your children's trade publication. Or, just maybe, one of them might grow up to become president. The sky is the limit. 

There is always hope that tomorrow will be better. I'm reminded of that every time I read the final column written by Walter "Red" Smith, the Pulitzer Prize-winning sports columnist of the New York Times, who died in 1982. Smith was reviewing his career, analyzing the great and not-so-great athletes he knew and wrote about. His lament veered back to optimism. His last published words gave him--and I'm sure his readers--great comfort: "I told myself not to worry. Some day there would be another Joe DiMaggio."

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