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1982 Horatio Alger Award Winner

Venita VanCaspel Harris*

Founder and CEO
VanCaspel & Co., Inc.

"Successful people do what others aren't willing to do. Unsuccessful people want pleasing experiences while the successful want pleasing results."

Born on a farm in Sweetwater, Oklahoma, Venita VanCaspel Harris spent her childhood picking cotton, black-eyed peas, peanuts, and watermelons to help her family. She worked as a hairdresser in a five-and-dime store during high school, and at jobs that ranged from typing to domestic work to pay her way through college, from which she graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a bachelor's degree in economics.

In the early 1960s, VanCaspel Harris began a career as a financial planner. In 1968 she founded VanCaspel & Co., Inc., a stock brokerage firm, which she headed for 19 years. She was also the first woman member of the Pacific Stock Exchange. VanCaspel Harris also hosted seminars on financial planning and investing. She wrote six bestselling books on money management, the most recent being Money Dynamics for the 1990s.

In 1987, VanCaspel & Company, Inc., merged into Raymond James & Associates, Inc., members of the New York Stock Exchange. VanCaspel Harris retired from financial planning in 1995. A fervent believer in the free enterprise system, VanCaspel Harris was an enthusiastic speaker during the Horatio Alger National Scholars Conference held each year in Washington, D.C. She advised young people to become as knowledgeable as they can in the field in which they are most interested. "There is no substitute for knowledge," she said. "Knowledge opens doors. It is irrelevant where you started in life. Under the American free enterprise system you can accomplish almost any goal you are truly committed to accomplishing. I believe that anything the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve."

When asked about success, VanCaspel Harris said, "To me, success is developing all the potential of your God-given abilities and talents and then helping others to do the same. Every time I see a successful business I know that someone once made a courageous decision. We are to seek success in everything we do, always acting with honor and treating others with respect. The difference between the successful person and the unsuccessful person is that the successful is willing to do what the unsuccessful is not willing to do. You can't sit around and say, 'Life come to me.' You have to do whatever is necessary to produce the results you desire. You have to be well prepared."

* Deceased