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What I learned from Commodore Vanderbilt
John Steele Gordon
Author, "An Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power"

If you take a look at my net worth, obviously I haven't received any good advice. But I've always admired Commodore Vanderbilt's advice to a young, earnest reporter: "Don't buy anything you don't want or sell anything you ain't got."

Vanderbilt was warning against speculation; he followed his own advice and died the richest self-made man in the world. I've never been an active trader - I don't have the personality for it - but Vanderbilt's advice is wonderful.

NEXT: Money doesn't make you happy

Last updated July 22 2008: 11:27 AM ET
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