Here is the full transcript of Curtis “Wall Street” Carroll’s Talk: How I Learned to Read – and Trade Stocks – in Prison at TED conference.
I was 14 years old inside of a bowling alley, burglarizing an arcade game, and upon exiting the building a security guard grabbed my arm, so I ran. I ran down the street, and I jumped on top of a fence.
And when I got to the top, the weight of 3,000 quarters in my book bag pulled me back down to the ground. So when I came to, the security guard was standing on top of me, and he said, “Next time you little punks steal something you can carry.”
I was taken to juvenile hall and when I was released into the custody of my mother, the first words my uncle said was, “How’d you get caught?”
I said, “Man, the book bag was too heavy.”
He said, “Man, you weren’t supposed to take all the quarters.”
I said, “Man, they were small. What am I supposed to do?”
And 10 minutes later, he took me to burglarize another arcade game. We needed gas money to get home. That was my life.
I grew up in Oakland, California, with my mother and members of my immediate family addicted to crack cocaine.
My environment consisted of living with family, friends, and homeless shelters. Oftentimes, dinner was served in breadlines and soup kitchens. The big homey told me this: money rules the world and everything in it. And in these streets, money is king. And if you follow the money, it’ll lead you to the bad guy or the good guy.