Tom Dittmer, legendary figure and pioneer in the world of commodities trading, grew up in Sioux City, Iowa. A University of Iowa graduate, Dittmer served in the US Army's prestigious 3rd Infantry Old Guard and as a White House Social Aide. With stepfather Ray Friedman, Dittmer co-founded the erstwhile brokerage firm Refco in 1969, in its heyday the world's largest commodities brokerage firm. Concurrently Dittmer partnered in one of the world's largest cattle feeding operations, Cactus Feeders Inc. In 1999 Dittmer sold his stakes in both businesses and retired as Refco's chairman to pursue other business and personal interests. In 2005 he was elected to the Futures Industry Association's inaugural Hall of Fame class alongside the likes of Lloyd Blankfein, Alan Greenspan, and Paul Tudor Jones II. A father and grandfather, Dittmer lives with his wife Frances Schultz in the Santa Ynez Valley of California.
Raised by a single mother, young Dittmer had barely the grades to graduate high school, let alone overcome poverty, illness, dyslexia, and a crippling stutter. And yet through sheer determination, Dittmer graduated from the University of Iowa and went on to serve in the US Army's elite 3d Infantry in Washington, DC, where he was also appointed a White House Social Aide. He soon met and married a smart, beautiful Texan and off they went to Chicago, fortune, and a modicum of fame.
The futures business in 1970s Chicago was the Wild West, and Dittmer was a maverick and gunslinger with the best (and worst) of them. In a time like no other in business history, Dittmer was smack in the middle, pushing, shoving, and above all persevering.
Dittmer wants to see the smartest, hungriest people with the best new ideas. He wants the toughest of the tough, and the smartest of the smart, with a high tolerance for pain that will never quit until they are successful. In short, he wants to see real entrepreneurs. As Churchill said, an entrepreneur is a person who can go from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm.
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