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Taking Stock

Failure after failure could not stop Charles Schwab from achieving huge success.

This story appears in the November 1996 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine.

If there are three themes running through Charles Schwab's life, they are: hard work, persistence and vision--in that order. Pursuing these ideals helped him to make San Francisco-based Charles Schwab & Co. Inc., the world's largest and most innovative discount brokerage house. Fortune magazine dubbed Schwab, 59, "the king of discounting." With 235 branch offices worldwide employing nearly 10,000 employees, the company chalked up 1995 revenues of $1.42 billion, a 33 percent gain over 1994. That's not bad for someone who, as a child, could barely read a simple sentence.

The keys to Schwab's extraordinary success can be traced to his childhood in California's San Joaquin Valley. From the moment he entered school, Schwab had great difficulty learning. He didn't understand the reason for his academic struggles until the mid-1970s, when his son Michael, then 10 years old, was diagnosed as having dyslexia, a learning disability that makes reading painfully difficult. Only at that time did Schwab discover that he, too, was dyslexic.

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