My book on the Turtles serves up lessons that never go stale. An excerpt:
People were willing to do just about anything to get Dennis’s attention [to get hired as one of his student traders]. Of all the approaches his students took to get themselves admitted to his trading school, Jim Melnick’s was the most extreme and inventive. He was an overweight, working-class guy from Boston who was living over a saloon in the Chicago suburbs. However, Melnick was determined to get as close to Dennis as possible. He actually moved to Chicago just because he’d heard about Richard Dennis. He ended up as a security guard for the Chicago Board of Trade and every morning would say, “Good morning, Mr. Dennis” as Dennis entered the building. Then, boom, the ad came out and Melnick got selected. Dennis, who was loaded with millions and power, took a guy off the street and gave him the opportunity to start a new life. The story of Melnick is pure rags-to-riches. How did he know that getting that close to Dennis could lead to something? He didn’t, of course, but he hoped it would. His self-confidence was prophetic. Another of Dennis’s students described Jim’s “everyman” qualities: “He reminded me of a truck driver and like magic became a ‘Turtle’ and he still couldn’t believe why or how…as far as where he is today, I have no clue at all.” Mike Shannon, a former actor who had left school at the age of sixteen, made it to Dennis’s door, too. He recalled, “I was working as a broker, and I was a very bad commodity broker.” Through a bunch of floor brokers Shannon found out about the ad, but he knew his résumé was problematic. He had a solution to that: “I made up a phony résumé, and I sent it off to Richard Dennis. I used the school of audacity to get the job.” People get fired or, at the very least, don’t get hired because of falsifying a résumé, but that was not how it worked with the eccentric head of C&D Commodities.