Sam Salter, 19, believes that success is "like having a crush on a girl—once you become obsessed, you work at it 24 hours a day." And that's exactly what he's done. The result: As president of his own company, Continational Finance Corp. of East Orange, N.J., Salter earns a $75,000-a-year salary and owns a $75,000 condominium in nearby suburban Woodbridge.
A high school dropout (he later earned an equivalency degree), Salter showed an early aptitude for business when, at 12, he and some friends began a grocery-delivery business. "We told people that we were a youth organization," he says unabashedly. "We'd go to the grocery store, then mark everything up almost double by the time we delivered it." At 16, he tried his luck at becoming a musician in Las Vegas, then sold real estate for a company in Ohio. He incorporated Continational Finance a year ago. Now the five-man firm acts as a loan broker, helping businesses get financing from such sources as pension funds, insurance companies and private investors.
Salter says that of the approximately 275 loan applications he has prepared in the last two years, 75 percent have been successful, and he charges anywhere from 2 to 6 percent of the total amount as his fee. So what about a boast he'd be a millionaire by age 21? "I'm looking for long-term returns," says Salter. "If I were looking for instant wealth, I'd already be a millionaire."
When she was in junior high, Patricia Keck, 28, says she was "mad that the boys got to do woodworking and interesting stuff like metalworking. The girls always had to make Kleenex cases or little handkerchiefs." Now Keck has gotten her revenge. The Andover, Mass. sculptor specializes in massive wood carvings, variations on some early-American classics like the cigar-store Indian, carousel animals and puppets. And that's not all: Some have moving fingers, wiggling feet and rolling eyes.
At a recent one-woman show in Manhattan, Keck's most striking carvings were a six-foot-long Green Monkey ($3,400) and a three-foot-high, shiny black Rat-mobile ($3,500), both on wheels, both meticulously detailed with steel teeth, jeweled collars and leather harnesses. Keck traces her artistic genes to her paternal grandfather, who sculpted statues of Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln and Father Francis P. Duffy, the World War I chaplain who presides over Manhattan's Duffy Square. Keck lives with her parents; her studio is a converted garage in the family's large colonial home 15 miles north of Boston.
As a student at the Rhode Island School of Design, Keck built a plaster sculpture of David Bowie, with an orange yarn wig and gold lame jacket made from Funny Bones snack-cake wrappers. "It got me through college," she says, "but my roommate and I sure got tired of eating Funny Bones."
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