Blog

The Story Behind the Legend

Recent Posts

The Truth About Ben Graham’s Powerful Rivals for Hazel (#16)

The Truth About Ben Graham’s Powerful Rivals for Hazel (#16)

Benjamin Graham met my grandmother when they were both driven teenagers. He saw Hazel as pretty, smart, and remarkably gifted in something that interested him—running a business. The sixteen-year-old director of a dancing school, Hazel assembled a bevy of beaux to assist with an “entertainment” to showcase her young pupils’ talents. Ben wrote the script in rhyme, and joined the band of rivals for her favor—rivals that included his two older brothers and his esteemed Cousin Louis.

Ben Graham, Columbia Man, Risked Everything and Lost (#15)

Ben Graham, Columbia Man, Risked Everything and Lost (#15)

I can’t wait to tell you the story of Benjamin Graham’s most exciting college job. He was willing to go to extraordinary lengths to earn big money while enrolled as a scholarship student at Columbia. The teenaged Ben Graham would not only bump into IBM in its infancy, but also earn a princely salary and save enough to invest in a risky enterprise. Join me for a rollicking and formative adventure with Ben Graham, Columbia man.

Benjamin Graham, Brainy Math Whiz in the Blush of First Love (#14)

Benjamin Graham, Brainy Math Whiz in the Blush of First Love (#14)

Take a leap with me into the heart and mind of my nineteen-year-old grandfather when he kissed a girl named Alda on a swing. Read the sonnet Benjamin Graham wrote in the grip of romantic passion. I’m deeply moved by what my aloof grandfather revealed. Together, let’s linger with Ben Graham in 1913 and appreciate his courage in running the gauntlet of first love.

Benjamin Graham: Big Moments on the Way to Big Earnings (#13)

Benjamin Graham: Big Moments on the Way to Big Earnings (#13)

Benjamin Graham, who had no money to pay for college, dreamed of winning a “fabulous” Pulitzer Scholarship. That scholarship would be his ticket to Columbia College—the gateway to a job with big earnings. After a thrilling letter from his brother Victor and an interview at the lofty Pulitzer Building, Ben Graham suffered a “devastating blow.” Would his dream of a tip-top college and a tip-top job be forever out of reach?

Benjamin Graham, Teenaged Farmhand (#12)

Benjamin Graham, Teenaged Farmhand (#12)

The summer sixteen-year-old Ben Graham worked as a farmhand, he began his work day at 5:30 a.m. by milking two cows who were both named Lucy. At night, he read a classic Greek text by kerosene lamp. Arduous labor, a mystery resident, an unexpected visitor, and a shocking realization made his summer unforgettable.

Ben Graham’s Train Station Blunder (#11)    

Ben Graham’s Train Station Blunder (#11)    

In June of 1910, sixteen-year-old Ben Graham set off to catch the train to New Milford where he’d taken a summer job as a farmhand. At Pavonia Terminal, he made a “stupid blunder.” His mistake didn’t cost him money, the way his future missteps prior to 1930 would. But his train station blunder exacted a price, putting him in a tough situation that tested his fortitude.

Ben Graham and His Errant Brothers, circa 1900  (#10)

Ben Graham and His Errant Brothers, circa 1900  (#10)

As a boy, Ben Graham felt “ill-used” used by his two older brothers, the “delinquent” Victor and the “mischievous” Leon. Ben’s granddaughter sets out to uncover the “sharp words and unfair actions” in Ben’s relationships with his brothers and finds “special fondness,” boyish pranks, and (mostly) hidden wounding.

Ben Graham’s Mother Gave Him a Key Message (#9)  

Ben Graham’s Mother Gave Him a Key Message (#9)  

I was wrong about Ben Graham’s mother. In my last post, I explored how she wounded him, impelling Ben to toughen his shell. That shell lessened the pain she and others caused him, but kept him remote from others. Now I see that I missed something important—something akin to what his mentee Warren Buffett later received from his own father. In this post, I discover her key motivating message that fueled Ben Graham’s spectacular rise on Wall Street.

Ben Graham and the Mother Who Toughened His Shell  (#8)

Ben Graham and the Mother Who Toughened His Shell (#8)

Ben Graham’s mother, Dorothy Graham, née Gesundheit (1870-1944), influenced him more than anyone else. I want to like and admire my great-grandmother—even love her—but I can’t. I’ll tell you why and take you on my quest to understand Ben Graham’s relationship with his mother. I hope to appreciate my great-grandmother more as I uncover the tragedies and challenges she faced as a widowed mother of three.

Ben Graham’s (Not So) Marvelous Father (#7)

Ben Graham’s (Not So) Marvelous Father (#7)

Ben Graham reveals: “Of my father I remember very little indeed. This is more regrettable because he was, by all accounts, a marvelous person.” Then, he recounts others’ “enthusiastic praise” of his father: “he was handsome, vivacious, charming and nearly always in a high good humor. He was also an excellent business man, keen-witted, energetic, and unfailingly resourceful.” What aspects of his father’s character helped shape Ben Graham?

Ben Graham & Warren Buffett’s Bond (By Ben’s Granddaughter) (#6)

Ben Graham & Warren Buffett’s Bond (By Ben’s Granddaughter) (#6)

Shortly after my husband and I settled ourselves in the conference room at Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett ambled through the door, dressed in a white mock turtleneck under a cornflower blue V-neck sweater. Belying the whiteness of his tousled hair, Mr. Buffett’s pale blue eyes shone with youthful eagerness as he remembered how my grandfather, Ben Graham, offered him a job in 1954.

Ben Graham Saw That He Was Wounded (#5)

Ben Graham Saw That He Was Wounded (#5)

I didn’t understand Ben Graham when I was a little girl and he was my “Grandpa Ben.” He was rich, so I thought his life was perfect. At age sixteen, I didn’t understand him when he took me on a cruise to the Black Sea; nor did I see him clearly the summer he welcomed me to his Aix-en-Provence cottage when I was twenty-one. I still didn’t fathom him in my forties…

With a Little Help from Ben (#4)

With a Little Help from Ben (#4)

The year was 1903. Benjamin Graham’s father Isaac had recently died at age thirty-five. Isaac’s once-thriving New York china shop was shuttered. Ben’s mother Dorothy had three sons to raise—eight-year-old Ben, nine-year-old Victor, and ten-year-old Leon—and no means of supporting them. How did she and the boys get by?

Ben Graham’s Origin Story (#3)

Ben Graham’s Origin Story (#3)

Benjamin Graham’s story began over a century ago, circa 1890, when his parents met and married in England. His mother Dorothy Graham, née Gesundheit, was born in 1870 into a Jewish merchant family in Warsaw, Poland. Her grandfather, Jacob Gesundheit, was a businessman and honored religious scholar who became chief rabbi of Warsaw in 1870…

Ben Graham’s First Worst Memory (#2)

Ben Graham’s First Worst Memory (#2)

This 1896 photographic portrait of Ben (age two) and his two older brothers hung in his home throughout his boyhood. Ben later expressed embarrassment at being “captured for posterity in short skirts.” This post reveals a blow Ben suffered which likely magnified his distress at seeing his younger self perpetually wearing girls’ clothes, while his brothers wore masculine attire.

Welcome to Beyond Ben Graham (#1)

Welcome to Beyond Ben Graham (#1)

Benjamin Graham taught hundreds of thousands of people how to invest in the stock market. He’s also my grandfather and he showed me how to invest in happiness. Beyond Ben Graham takes you beyond the “father of value investing” you already know.