George Soros rises from humble beginnings to the financial stratosphere

George Soros was born in Hungary in 1930. Growing up amid the rising wave of anti-Semitism brought about by the Nazi regime’s rise to power throughout Europe, Soros’ family was often ruthlessly persecuted, even being forced to change their surname from Schwartz to Soros. Eventually, Soros’ father saw the writing on the wall. He moved the family out of Hungary to England. Unfortunately, many of Soros’ immediate relatives were not so lucky. Many of his aunts and uncles disappeared the late-30s and 1940s, swallowed up by the Nazi death machine, never to be heard from again. Learn more about George at Biography.

This period had a profound impact on Soros. It would drive his burning desire to understand the philosophical underpinnings of politics and how nationalist movements can run amok. His intense interest in the study of philosophy led him to apply to the London School of Economics, where he was accepted, based on his outstanding high school grades. While at the London School of Economics, Soros studied under the world-famous philosophy professor Karl Popper. Popper’s most famous contribution to the philosophical literature was his seminal work ‘The Open Society and Its Enemies’. This book would have a profound impact on the young Soros’ intellectual development. So enthralled was he by the book, that he would eventually name his flagship philanthropic organization after its title. The Open Society Foundations became Soros’ main organization for affecting change throughout the world.

After graduating from the London School of Economics with a Master of Science in philosophy degree, Soros embarked on a period of five years, where he worked a string of menial jobs. Acting as a salesman throughout the English countryside as well as a store clerk, Soros eventually realized that the working-class life was not his calling. Although he had an advanced degree in philosophy, he could not find suitable work at local universities. He finally relented and, at the behest of a college friend, begin applying to a number of stock trading firms on Wall Street. He was surprised to be hired so quickly by a boutique firm called Singer and Friedlander. This mark beginning of Soros’ career on Wall Street. He stands out among many of his billionaire peers for the simple fact that he had absolutely no desire to pursue a life of wealth accumulation. The only reason he ever became involved in the financial markets was nothing more than a matter of dumb luck. Know more on cnbc.com about George Soros.

Once on Wall Street, George Soros proved to be a fairly lackluster employee. His co-workers from this period in his life note that he often seemed to be far more interested in expounding his own philosophical treatises then in the quotidian duties of his job. Nevertheless, Soros slowly worked his way up the ranks, eventually arriving at the position of senior vice president for a major trading firm. It was at this juncture that he was given free reign over his own hedge fund for the first time. And the rest is history.

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