Talkin' Big: How an Iowa Farm Boy Beat the Odds to Found and Lead One of the World's Largest Brokerage Firms

Talkin' Big: How an Iowa Farm Boy Beat the Odds to Found and Lead One of the World's Largest Brokerage Firms

by Tom Dittmer


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In Talkin’ Big, Tom Dittmer—former CEO of Refco, the United States’ first world-renowned futures firm—recalls how with hard work, determination, optimism, and some good old-fashioned luck, he was able to able to achieve his greatness.

Growing up as a farm boy in small-town Iowa, Dittmer first made a name for himself as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. His industry and potential were quickly noticed, and Dittmer rapidly rose to become a White House aide under Lyndon B. Johnson. After an honorable discharge, Dittmer moved to Chicago with his new wife, Frannie, where he, from the Chicago Union Stockyards, first learned of the wealth of potential that that the Chicago Stock Exchange held.

In 1969, he got into the business world himself, forming Ray E. Friedman & Co., (Refco) with this father. And from there, Dittmer’s fortunes only rose. Making millions, taking Refco to the international stage, and hobnobbing with celebrities, Dittmer became a legend in his own right, all while staying true to himself and his Midwest roots.

Brimming with fascinating business insights and incredible inside stories, Talkin’ Big is a true rag-to-riches story of one of America’s greatest businessmen.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781510737051
Publisher: Skyhorse
Publication date: 11/27/2018
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 400,557
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Tom Dittmer was raised in Sioux City, Iowa, and is a graduate of the University of Iowa. Dittmer is a retired commodities brokerage executive. He retired as chairman of Refco Group in 1999, a firm he cofounded. Under his leadership, Refco was one of the first US futures firms to build an international presence. In 2006, Dittmer was inducted into the Futures Industry Association Futures Hall of Fame. He lives with his wife in Los Olivos, California.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Just an Iowa Farm Boy 1

Chapter 2 The Early Days 3

Chapter 3 The Farm 6

Chapter 4 Fathers 10

Chapter 5 Sioux City 12

Chapter 6 Sixteen 17

Chapter 7 Pop 21

Chapter 8 Get Your Act Together 26

Chapter 9 I'm in the Army Now 35

Chapter 10 Pop Goes Into Commodities 40

Chapter 11 Frannie 42

Chapter 12 The White House 47

Chapter 13 I Find Where I Belong 53

Chapter 14 Frannie and I Get Married 56

Chapter 15 Early Life in Chicago 61

Chapter 16 Refco 66

Chapter 17 A Family Man 69

Chapter 18 The Great Grain Robbery 73

Chapter 19 Life with Dad by Jason Dittmer 77

Chapter 20 On My Own 80

Chapter 21 My Parents by Alexis Dittmer 85

Chapter 22 Refco Takes Off 88

Chapter 23 The Russian Grain Embargo 92

Chapter 24 Cuba, Castro, and a New House 95

Chapter 25 London and Kommersant 99

Chapter 26 The Heady Years 105

Chapter 27 Paris to Russia 108

Chapter 28 George Barley 113

Chapter 29 Jerry Gould 117

Chapter 30 The Sheikh of Abu Dhabi 120

Chapter 31 Davos and the Brown Bags 124

Chapter 32 My Mother and Pop 128

Chapter 33 Hiding from Tom by Kim Sherman 130

Chapter 34 Providence St. Mel 135

Chapter 35 Racing with Gags 146

Chapter 36 Fishing with Dad by Jason Dittmer 148

Chapter 37 Studs Terkel 150

Chapter 38 The IRS at High Noon 152

Chapter 39 Spanish Cows and Other Cockamamie Schemes 155

Chapter 40 Fatal Trades and Back to Cuba 158

Chapter 41 Tenacity by Chris Sugrue 162

Chapter 42 Literally Tap-Dancing 165

Chapter 43 New York and Castro 168

Chapter 44 Go Make Me Money by Chris Sugrue 172

Chapter 45 Everything Changed but the Love 177

Chapter 46 Frozen Peas by Jason Dittmer 180

Chapter 47 The F-Word Man by Shan Ardhaldjian 182

Chapter 48 Searching 185

Chapter 49 The End of an Era 189

Chapter 50 Moving to California 192

Chapter 51 Refco Self-Destructs 194

Chapter 52 The Virgin Islands 197

Chapter 53 Alone Again 199

Chapter 54 A Family Again by Alexis Dittmer 202

Chapter 55 Carolina on My Mind 204

Chapter 56 We Got Lucky by Frances Schultz 206

Chapter 57 Gone in a Moment 210

Chapter 58 F-1 by F-2 212

Chapter 59 My Mother by Alexis Dittmer 214

Chapter 60 Mom by Jason Dittmer 216

Chapter 61 Destiny by Billy Hurbaugh 218

Chapter 62 The Spirit by Randall C. K. Day 223

Chapter 63 The Legacy by Jason Dittmer 226

Chapter 64 Convergence 228

Chapter 65 My Best Advice and My Greatest Weakness 232

Acknowledgments 235

About the Author 237

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