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Investing in Your Passion

No one knows this better than Richard Westerfield. At age 22, having studied piano, violin, and voice, he got his first chance to conduct and orchestra. "The moment I picked up the baton, I knew this was what I wanted to do." His parents however, urged him to be more practical. So he got a master’s degree in business and took a well-paid position in international investment banking.

But Richards passion for music never ebbed. After putting in 12 hour days on Wall Street, he’d stay up nights writing music scores. His vacations were spent guest conducting for orchestras around the country. One year he got his big break when a famous European conducter (Erich Leinsdorf) had to bow out of 5 guest appearances with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Westerfield, his understudy, took over to critical acclaim.

On the last night of the Philharmonic, Richard learned that his father had terminal cancer. "I realized then that life is too short not to do what’s really important to you." He quit his job and started fulfilling his passion– full time conducting. Today he earns half of his old salary, he’s had to simplify his life, but he has finally found the joy he never knew in business.

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