Dan Lufkin's Legendary Career Inspires Rumsey's Finance Club
Rumsey parent, revolutionary Wall Street icon, CT’s first DEP Commissioner, and co-founder of Earth Day shares on the wisdom of common sense.
At Rumsey Hall, we give students opportunities outside the classroom to explore their own unique life interests. One way students are encouraged to expand their knowledge and abilities is through participating in a student club. Each of our diverse clubs is run by a faculty member with expertise in the subject matter. The Rumsey Hall Finance Club brings students together to learn about investing, the stock market, and an overall understanding of the world of money.
The Finance Club regularly invites speakers with relevant experience in the business world to come in and chat with the students. This year, the club was thrilled to welcome back Dan Lufkin P'12, '20, '24, co-founder of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette (DLJ) to share gems of wisdom from his wildly successful career on Wall Street and the Department of Environmental Protection.
Eric Scheidt P’23, 25, faculty mentor of the Finance Club, shares, “For me, getting the chance to have a Wall Street legend like Dan come in and share his experiences and wisdom is incredible.”
Lufkin warmly greeted the full class of enthusiastic students and dug right to the theme of common stock and common sense. Right off the bat, he debunked the concept that there is a secret to getting ahead in the stock market. “There’s no magic or wizardry,” Lufkin explained. “There’s no secret formula or early reports to beat the market. Instead, use your head: use common sense.”
Lufkin recounted his early foray into the stock market with an early success in Dairy Queen investments. He captivated the students’ attention with his detailed explanation of his introduction to the “Blizzard,” the famed frozen desert concocted by Dairy Queen. He recalled a memorable hot Texas summer in the 1970s when his primary job was running horses from show to show. As he travelled across the southern sunbelt, Lufkin found himself repeatedly purchasing the over-priced ice cream masterpiece; subsequently, he conjectured that Dairy Queen was on to something big. After researching the stability of the company, he used common sense to make a bold financial decision that ultimately garnered him substantial gains.
Scheidt, who worked on Wall Street for 15 years, some of the time at Lufkin’s DLJ, states, “Dan’s common stock and common sense theme prompted the students to really think about investing on a very practical level. Eventually, that theme ended up becoming a manifesto of DLJ and a meaningful belief in my own life as an employee there.”
Lufkin removed the stigma attached to the sometimes-scary world of investments by telling a relatable story that middle school students could understand. “When we met as a club after Lufkin’s visit,” Scheidt continues, “the kids were saying they always thought there was a magic formula...that it was a rigged game run by powerful hidden forces. But his story about Dairy Queen made a light bulb go off in their minds that investing is something they could actually learn to do.”
The students took full advantage of the question and answer time they had with Lufkin. George Sullivan ’22 asked Lufkin what his thoughts were on attending college. He responded, “I wouldn’t miss college: for relationships; for friends; for sports; or, for any particular activity, such as theater. College is terrific. If you have the chance and inclination to attend college—if it’s your game plan—go on to graduate. Every opportunity you can put under your belt will help you succeed.”
Austin Tucker ’22 expressed his gratitude for Lufkin’s visit, stating, “Mr. Lufkin definitely taught me how to use common sense and how it's important in the stock market. Overall, it was great to have someone of his caliber talk to us and share his wisdom.”
Lufkin encouraged the students to explore a career path that deeply means something to them on an individual level. During his tenure as Connecticut’s first Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner, his passion for caring for our planet drove his professional satisfaction. Lufkin explained, “If you’re doing something you really like for work, then you haven’t worked a day in your life. In the DEP, I followed my heart and honestly believed I could make a difference in how the environment of this state worked. It was something I wanted to do, and I figured out a way to do it.”
Lufkin even played a part in establishing the first Earth Day celebration in 1970.
Students were inspired by Lufkin’s affability, achievements, and the impact he made on Wall Street, the state of Connecticut, and the planet. "Listening to Mr. Lufkin speak was an incredible experience which I will remember for the rest of my life,” said Kyle Chun ’22. “He not only taught us about finance, but encouraged us to find ways to also be successful as human beings."
Before heading back out to their busy evenings of play practice, dorm meetings, and extra help homework sessions with their teachers, students received one last important tidbit from Lufkin. “Don’t ever say, ‘I can’t do that,’” he challenged. “Simply do it. Don’t be bound by what other people think or what other people tell you—by what the normal is. Follow your own heart, beliefs, and desires.”