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26 Most Fascinating Entrepreneurs: Muriel Siebert

From: Inc. Magazine, April 2005 | By: null


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Muriel Siebert Muriel Siebert & Co.

for being a notable first with a worthy second act

Muriel Siebert discovered an alarming trend while serving as New York state's first female superintendent of banks (or, as she says, the SOB). Siebert, who had taken a break from her eponymous brokerage house to run the state's banking system from 1977 to 1982, received countless letters from constituents complaining about their financial woes. "They were maxing out their credit cards and using check cashers instead of bank accounts," she says. "The people who could least afford it were paying the most."

In an effort to educate young people about money matters, Siebert has spent the past few years, and nearly $1 million from her own pocketbook, developing a personal finance course for high school students. The 21-lesson program explains the basics, from balancing a checkbook to reading a pay stub. It is now required in public high schools in New York City and is being reviewed by dozens of school boards throughout the country. Diane Bines, who teaches the course at Cardozo High in Bayside, N.Y., says it has changed the way her students think about their finances. "Before, they didn't think twice before spending all their money on gum," she says. "Now they know where the money is going because they see it on paper."

Siebert, best known as the first woman to hold a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, says her latest venture has proved more gratifying than her other firsts. "Those are things I did for myself because I wanted to be treated as an equal to men," she says. "With this program, I can help millions of people."

Nadine Heintz

26 Most Fascinating Entrepreneurs

  1. Martha Stewart, Martha Stewart Omnimedia
    because she took one for the team
  2. Richard Branson, Virgin Group
    because he's game for anything. In fact, everything.
  3. Michael Dell, Dell Computer
    for being brilliantly straightforward
  4. Jim Sinegal, Costco
    because who knew a big-box chain could have a generous soul?
  5. Diane von Furstenberg, Diane von Furstenberg Studio
    for staging an elegant comeback
  6. Julie Azuma, Different Roads to Learning
    for offering hope and help to the parents of autistic children
  7. Fritz Maytag, Anchor Brewing
    for setting limits
  8. Ray Kurzweil, Kurzweil Technologies and other companies
    because he is Edison's rightful heir
  9. Craig Newmark, Craigslist
    for putting the free in free markets
  10. Jack Mitchell, Mitchells/Richards
    because his family business makes an art of customer service
  11. Frank Robinson, Robinson Helicopter
    for whipping an entire industry into shape
  12. Mark Melton, Melton Franchise Systems
    for giving immigrants their shot at the American Dream
  13. Michelle Cardinal & Tim O'Leary, Cmedia and Respond2
    for rewriting the rules for husband-and-wife teams
  14. Mike Lazaridis, Research in Motion
    because someone had to stand up for all those frustrated engineers
  15. Trip Hawkins, Electronics Arts and Digital Chocolate
    for still scrapping
  16. Warren Brown, Cake Love and Love Cafe
    because only in America will someone quit a secure job as a lawyer to start a bakery
  17. Muriel Siebert, Muriel Siebert & Co.
    for being a notable first with a worthy second act
  18. Chuck Porter, Crispin, Porter + Bogusky
    for verging on reckless
  19. Katrina Markoff, Vosges Haut
    for setting a completely unreasonable goal for her business
  20. Barry Steinberg & Craig Sumerel, Direct Tire and Auto Service
    for showing the power of the peer group
  21. Victoria Parham, Virtual Support Services
    for serving as a mentor to military spouses
  22. Tom LaTour, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants
    for staying at fleabag hotels so that we don't have to
  23. Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams, Mitchell Gold
    for creating a true comfort zone
  24. Izzy & Coco Tihanyi, Surf Diva
    for kicking sand in the face of conventional wisdom
  25. Tony Lee, Ring Masters
    for saving 16 jobs, including his own
  26. Rueben Martinez, Libreria Martinez Books and Art Galleries
    for simultaneously building a business and nurturing Latino culture

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