Wednesday, December 5, 2018. It was a sunny day in New York yesterday, with temperatures at 50 by midday and dropping down into the colder by four in the afternoon. We’re running the photo I took of the East River on Sunday midday when it was much warmer (mid- to upper-50s) and the fog almost totally obliterated the view of the riverside. I’m still amazed as I’ve rarely seen that intensity.
The Night. It was an overcoat night, to be on the safe side, after our recent fair weather. I went down to Verdura where Frances Schultz and the Landrigans were hosting in its beautiful rooms overlooking the Park on the Fifth and 59th Street corner. It was a book signing party for Tom Dittmer, husband of our hostess. The avenue at that hour was alive with the lights of the holidays coming up.
I’ve known Tom for quite a few years although I’ve never really known him. New York and my life in it, is like that. He and I have been at the same dinner tables, galas, restaurants, wherever, along with many others just like us. I did know about his business background because if you follow the financial world you’d know about his immense success. The book is called “Talkin’ BIG: How An Iowa Farm Boy Beat The Odds To Found and Lead One of the World’s Largest Brokerage Firms.”
Let’s stop there for a minute. A book about a guy from Iowa, small town, real Midwest, no pretense, just work, who after college and didn’t know what he wanted to do. Okay, so? So, someone, a family member I think, got hold of the boy out of college and pointed. Tom followed the direction and (not over night; he was a kid too) he became hugely, legendarily successful.
So what do I care? Well, it’s wouldn’t be the next book on my long list, but: it looks like a book for people in business who know the territory and get it. And he is the man who knows what and how in the markets — that everyone knows about him. So if you’re interested in this sort of story, there’s always something to learn.
I’m thinking this until I heard a bit of his recollections to guests who gathered around in one of the elegant — and elegantly lit ateliers at Verdura — about where he came from and how he got there, American-style, all the way…
Long story short: when I got home last night, without intention, I opened it up and started to read. The table of contents has what looks like dozens of chapters (and it’s not a thick volume). That immediately made me more curious. Of course you’ve gotta keep the chapters interesting; that’s the catch. I had that experience with Jane Stanton Hitchcock’s upcoming “Bluff.” She got me on page 2 (which was the end of the chapter) and kept me to the end in a marathon read.
So, seeing that there were so many chapters, I started to read the first chapter of Tom Dittmer’s book. The author, so thoroughly Midwest American in attitude, reminded me of Will Rogers (whom I only saw on film) whose wit characterized that world.
Modesty plays a big part in it. You could almost think it’s false modesty because the guy is major in his field. But it’s not. It is Midwest American Farmboy Land and so off-handedly presented (you can read it or don’t), you go with him. And it’ll read fast, I promise. Great pub date too, as you should think about gifting it to anyone, especially those men and women young and maybe interested in a similar path in that world. It carries its own secrets of success to share.
The first chapter spells it out and draws you in. Iowa farm family stories. That’s where the boy came from. The nitty gritty; Man against Mother Nature. Even if the subject doesn’t interest you, the author will, underlining that world from which he came.