Magazine article Management Today

How I Beat the Odds: Paul Oberschneider, Real Estate Entrepreneur and Angel Investor

Magazine article Management Today

How I Beat the Odds: Paul Oberschneider, Real Estate Entrepreneur and Angel Investor

Article excerpt

I grew up in a small town in the cornfields of Illinois. My father was an Estonian doctor who moved to the States after the Second World War. He was my hero but he also suffered from a disease we knew a lot less about then; alcoholism and drug addiction. It finally killed him when I was about to go into my second year of university. I came home and he was in a coma. The doctor said he would be a vegetable for the rest of his life, so I made that difficult decision to take him off life support.

My mother didn't want to send me back to university, so I worked at the Chicago Board of Trade and eventually found myself working on Wall Street. I promised I would never turn out like my father but promises are hard to keep. It was the 1980s, I was young, it was one big party We would trade in the morning, then have drinks at Harry's Bar, go out for dinner, and head over to one of dozens of clubs where we'd be all night. Then go home, put a new shirt on and go back on the trading floor.

In nine years, I overreached anything my father had done in terms of addiction. I lost my job, I lost my money, I was on the edge. My father once took me to a 12-step recovery programme meeting. He didn't realise it at the time, but while he might not have been able to save his own life, he saved mine. When I was at rock bottom, I remembered where to go. I've been clean and sober for 29 years.

In 1992, I decided to visit Estonia for three weeks and piece my background together. I had dollars 400 and didn't know anybody or the language, but I made money by writing business plans for people I met By the end of summer, I was writing them for big companies for up to dollars 50,000 a pop and I made a pile of money. …

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