It's easy to pour accolades on Muriel "Mickie" Siebert. The feisty 78-year old chief executive of Muriel Siebert & Co., was the first woman to buy a seat on the New York Stock Exchange in 1967, one of the first to operate a discount brokerage firm, and Superintendent of Banks in the State of New York from 1977 to 1982, just to name a few of her accomplishments.
Now, she gives advice on how to make it in business today. "None of it was easy," she says of her earlier days. "There were tremendous hurdles along the way." Among them, she likes to joke, finding the lady's room. While working at the New York Stock Exchange, when she needed to go to the rest room, Mickie headed up to the 6th floor. Because there were no women working there at the time, no one told her that there was a lady's room, from the days of the Korean War, right there on the main floor of the Exchange. At least, not for two and a half years. But she found it.
Mickie has been a long time advocate not only for women in business, but also for the individual investor, arguing that greater transparency is sorely needed to give investors the right tools and knowledge to allow them to make smart investments.
She is distressed by the level of financial education children have coming out of school, so she recently started the Siebert Personal Finance Literacy Program, which she provides to New York City high schools. Her goal: To ensure that today's young people enter the real world financially literate. "We just don't teach it in this country," she says. "It's a major mistake."
Now in 109 schools, Mickie plans to expand the program nationwide. She was recently honored with a lifetime achievement award from teachers in the state of New Jersey, where there will be a Muriel Siebert Personal Financial Literacy Day every year on October 13. The plan is to make the program also available to 8th graders, reaching kids as early as possible.
As for people starting up a new business? "I did it as college dropout with 19 honorary doctorates," says Mickie. She goes on to explain that while things are very different today, tough times can be the best time to get a new business underway.
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