Suze Orman

Suze Orman has won her fame in the world of financial advice. Her insights into investing and personal finance management have helped a great number of people throughout the country and made her a really famous person in many remote corners of America. Suze has been successful in a variety of roles – as a writer who authored a number of best sellers, as an eloquent public speaker, a fundraiser, and a television show host. In all her activities, Suze demonstrated remarkable dedication and skills, which made her an important person to many Americans. Thanks to her devoted work in the field and her dedication to quality work, Suze has joined the ranks of the most famous women in America. Her leadership skills and contribution to her field are truly remarkable because of her struggles on her way to success, which is a reason why her experience is relevant to anybody willing to become a ‘self-made person’.

1. Suze Orman’s Early Years

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Suze (Susan) Orman was born on June 5, 1951 in Chicago in a family of Russian Jewish immigrants. As is the case with many business leaders, Suze Orman’s life was not without struggle. In fact, her fight for professional success started in school when she developed a reading problem. This problem was caused by a speech impediment that made her talk in an unintelligible way. In her interview later on, she recounts:

“When I was growing up in Chicago, I could not pronounce my Rs, Ss or Ts, so words like beautiful came out ‘booda.’ A name like Caretha would come out ‘Kiki.”[1]

This was a serious psychological problem for a young girl, especially given the fact that she was studying in a school where teachers thought it necessary to seat kids in the classroom according to their reading scores. This arrangement placed her in the very last seat, a situation that could have forced any kid to consider oneself worthless. She recalls her misery in school with the words:

“I grew up thinking that because I couldn’t read, I was stupid and would never amount to anything. I worked my way through college as a waitress and thought I wasn’t capable of doing anything else. My grades in English were horrible, and I barely got through.”[2]

Suze received BA in social work from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Luckily for her and her today’s fans, she had exceptional ability for mathematics. When the professor assigned a complicated problem to be solved within a week, she could solve the problem in a few minutes. Suze was able to see the world in terms of numbers, a talent that was natural in her.

Even today, as she is a famous author and her books are read by millions of admirers, she still has a problem with reading. Reading is not her favorite pastime; in fact, before writing her famous books, she had done very little reading. At one point, she did make an effort of reading ‘The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood’ and ‘Dreaming in Cuban’ in her vacation[3]. She said she enjoyed the books, but was unhappy to get voices in her head while before that she only her own life to occupy her thoughts.

2. Suze Orman as a Writer

Despite the problems with reading, Suze is a successful writer whose books enjoy popularity among people of different backgrounds. Her books are enjoyable and easy to read, and she has an eloquent style resembling that of famous novelists. Her list of publications includes The Laws of Money, The Lessons of Life, The Road to Wealth, The Courage to Be Rich, The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom, and The Money Book for the Young Fabulous and Broke[4]. Her very first publication, You’ve Earned It, Don’t Lose It has about 600,000 copies in different formats, and is now going through the 25th printing.

In “The Nine Steps to Financial Freedom,” she makes money looks like a real-life character: at the beginning it is wild and treacherous, scaring to many people. In their lives, many people face the need to learn to manage their finances. In a way, this means that people develop a sort of relationship with their personal funds. With time, they develop little habits that help them in the process, like putting signs around the house to remind of the time to pay one’s bills. Then people learn to refuse plastic cards offers in their mailboxes, and by adulthood stop seeing money as an enemy, instead seeing it as a good friend. The book demonstrates Suze’s writing talent and is remarkable for its good style and entertaining information. It is truly amazing how a person with limited knowledge of literature could produce such a well-crafted literary work.

In her every book, she demonstrates a clear understanding of the subject and ability to address a large audience, making her words understandable to all people, irrespective of their backgrounds. Suze’s excellent style and her ability to present trivial issues from a new standpoint are really remarkable.

3. Suze as a Speaker

In addition to being a bestselling author, Suze is also a very successful public speaker. Her appearances are always a success and enable listeners to increase their knowledge of the subject dramatically. Knowing a lot about finance, she is also open to share this information with others. Her commitment to promoting the financial well-being of other people makes her a remarkable personality in American media. Suze has made assistance to other people in achieving financial freedom one of the main tasks of her life, and to this point she has helped millions of fellow citizens achieve this desirable goal.

Her public appearances are not limited to occasional meetings. Suze also hosts a show on the CNBC cable television network that concentrates on personal financial planning strategies. This show, tackling subjects of interest to millions of Americans eager to protect their nest egg and increase their personal wealth against economic ups and downs, bears her name: The Suze Orman Show. The high evaluation of her show by television professionals is confirmed by the fact that she got an an Emmy award for her performance in the Suze Orman Show[5]. This award was given to her in 2004 “in the category of Outstanding Service Show Host for her PBS special, “The Laws of Money, The Lessons of Life”[6]. In addition, she also received another Gracie award in 2005[7].

Suze has reached the hearts of millions of people, bringing to them her message about financial independence and teaching them how to achieve it. Here are some of her famous phrases about money that are remembered and quoted by other authors and speakers:

“Self-worth equals net worth.”

“People first, then money, then things.”

“A big part of financial freedom is having your heart and mind free from worry about the what-ifs of life. ”

“Truth creates money. Lies destroy it.”[8]

In addition to her famous CNBC show, Suze is also known for another program she hosts, Suze Orman’s Financial Freedom on QVC. The name of the program effectively reflects Suze’s own credo and the dream of many people who listen to her programs – to be free from constraints that money matters place on people. Through her thoughtful, entertaining presentation, Suze helped many people take a new look at money, turning from a feared enemy into a friend.

4. Suze as Businesswoman

An author of nine best-sellers, and a successful host of television shows, Suze is also a successful businesswoman. Business was the area where she first learned the basics of financial planning and financial advising that she can now use for the benefit of a large number of people. Unwilling to remain in business serving only a limited number of individuals coming to her firm, she broke this limitation by providing free advice to millions of people. This strategy made her effective and demonstrated to the world her outstanding leadership skills.

Suze Orman is a Certified Financial Planner Professional and Commodity Trading Advisor. She is now the head of her own financial planning venture, called Suze Orman Financial Group of Emeryville, California. Before that, she was employed as Vice President of Investments for Prudential Bache Securities from 1983-87[9]. In the period from 1980 to 1983, she was an Account Executive at Merrill Lynch[10]. Earlier still, she took her first job in the Buttercup Bakery in Berkeley, California, in which she spent seven years from 1973-1980.

Working her way up on Wall Street, Suze learned the basics of investing and expanded her knowledge of the subject in her own business. Her idea to open one’s own investment group shows that she has entrepreneurial ability that helped her identify a business opportunity and apply her skills successfully to using it.

5. Suze’s Leadership Style

Many people who come in contact with Suze Orman notice that she has an exceptionally charismatic personality that helps her influence her subordinates and catch the attention of audiences. Her leadership style is grounded in a variety of important qualities including communicative ability, persistence to overcome difficulties, and charismatic and sympathetic personality.

Her communication skills are demonstrated by her ability to deliver impressive public speeches. The same impressive skills are applied on a daily basis to relate to her employees and subordinates. Her eloquent style is characterized by its simplicity – unwilling to spend time on extra details and coming down to the matter at once. Communication is the key to successful management, and Suze has really learned this skill to motivate and empower those who listen to her.

Another important quality is her ability to persist in the face of difficulties. Her childhood story is sufficient proof of that since she was really struggling with her academic problems. Not many people would have found their ways to successful careers after what she has been through. However, she was effective in this regard and demonstrated her ability to overcome difficulties. Starting from her modest position as a waitress, Suze Orman worked her way up through Wall Street work and to her own successful business. She is truly a self-made woman, and she could become one only because she was never stopped by difficulties. When Suze first founded her own firm in 1987, she had a very unpleasant accident when one of her assistants embezzled the company’s money. She was not discouraged by this difficulty – in fact, she continued to build her business, finally making it successful. This determination to continue with one’s cause in spite of difficulties and adversity is an important quality of any leader.

Suze has personal charm that appeals to people, another cornerstone of leadership. Her slogan “People First” is something she really means, in spite of the fact that her job rotates around money matters[11]. Her emphasis on helping people is what really helped her become famous throughout the nation. Serving people and meeting their needs is a sign of responsible leadership and really appeals to people. This quality is a must for effective leadership that leaves a lasting imprint on the environment.

Suze is also notable for her ethical position concerning many issues that most people treat as a purely financial concern. Speaking of money management, she advocates a responsible position, according to which “by conquering your fears and living a full spiritual life, you can master your money; likewise, if you’re doing well, you must have done something to deserve it”[12].

In this way, she connects her passion for Oriental religions and Zen Buddhism with money, giving it almost a spiritual dimension. In connecting money and ethics, Suze Orman continues “a tradition of moral financial advice that runs back to Poor Richard”[13]. This attention to ethics is very important to a leader of today as ethical concerns have come to dominate contemporary business environment. The idea that money is deserved is certainly very interesting because it inspires people to treat it in a responsible way and to strive to earn money with honest methods. Suze’s contribution aims to empower people, to enable them take hold of their lives, and in this way it is highly ethical and moral.

Finally, Suze’s ability to innovate is what drives her business and her personal success. Suze Orman was named “a force in the world of personal finance” and a “one-woman financial-advice powerhouse” by USA Today[14]. Smart Money magazine in 1999 nominated Suze Orman “as one of its top thirty “Power Brokers” who most influenced the mutual fund industry and affected our money”[15]. Some claim that her ideas about money management are not that new, but she has put them in a different framework, making them clear and appealing to a great number of people. Always finding new things to tell her audience, Suze Orman will most probably continue to be a major figure in the area of personal finance.


My choice of Suze Orman was explained by personal admiration of her accomplishments and contribution to her field. She is one of those who create a new place for women in the contemporary economy where they will be empowered and better positioned to take hold of their own future. To do so, Suze demonstrated great courage, vision, and conviction. Paraphrasing the title of her book, Suze Orman has shown “courage to be successful”.

As for myself, I feel that I am undergoing problems in my life that resemble those Suze had in her youth. As a mother of a five-year-old and a recent immigrant in the US, I have many worries and have to address many concerns, as well as cope with financial problems. Seeing that someone like Suze Orman has overcome the problems and achieved success in spite of difficulties is really inspiring and encourages me to handle my life with more conviction and persistence. Like her, I believe that the power to change my life for the better is in my hands, and that I can and should take action to improve my own life and that of other people.


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Suze Orman. Wikipedia. 5 May 2006 ;;.

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Suze Orman Tells All. Interviewed by Pat Holt,, 6th February 2001. 5 May 5, 2006 ;;.