Karen Bruton is known as the “Lamb of Wall Street,” an unusual title she’s come by through forging an unusual path.
At the age of 50, Karen began to learn the ins and outs of the stock market. Although she quickly learned to excel in trading derivatives and futures, she found her true passion and calling in sharing what she’d learned with disadvantaged communities through entrepreneurship training.
This is the story that Karen shares with her autobiographical book The Lamb of Wall Street. We get a glimpse of the perspective she’s gained on this episode of Trevor Talks!
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Karen Bruton 0:00
I've made I put all of my money except just a little bit I have to live off of to go to people all over the world that are unfortunate. I give them a hand up, not a handout.
Trevor Tyson 0:21
Thank you for tuning in to Trevor talks podcast where we talk to real people about real topics and real stories. Today, we have the privilege of hearing from the lamb of Wall Street herself. If you've never seen the movie, Wolf of Wall Street, you might not get the title. But if you have, you would know that Karen Bruton is actually the complete opposite of whatever was portrayed in that film, even though it was entertaining for a lot of people. You know, Karen isn't doing her work for all the right reasons. Karen spent more than 25 years as a vice president and Corporate Controller of two corporations. And in any week, you might find her watching the stock markets working in the field in Sierra Leone, or listening to young women in an orphanage in Panama. She's kind of all over the place. So y'all please help me welcome Miss Karen Bruton. Karen, welcome to the show. Thank you for being here.
Unknown Speaker 1:15
Oh, and I appreciate you having me.
Trevor Tyson 1:19
Yeah, of course. It's like, I see the pictures behind you. And I'm like, you live a very interesting life. And I think what you were doing is phenomenal. And I'm excited to have you.
Unknown Speaker 1:32
Well, I quit my job. And I was the vice president of a company here. And I quit my job in January 2007. And I haven't looked back since.
Trevor Tyson 1:44
You see that's phenomenal. And you didn't learn like the stock market per se until you were 50. Correct?
Unknown Speaker 1:52
Trevor Tyson 1:53
Wow, you see, all of us youngsters are like, Oh, I could never learn that. And you go to Edward Jones or somewhere you try to figure out how to do stuff. But there's really no excuse. You learn it at 50? Well, I'll
Unknown Speaker 2:05
teach you if you want to learn. You
Trevor Tyson 2:08
see, you're you're really good at math, I'm assuming, right? You're like a math whiz.
Unknown Speaker 2:11
I majored in applied mathematics at the University of North Carolina. I'm a Tar Heel,
Trevor Tyson 2:18
you are a Tar Heel, and you're good at math. You see, I'm gonna leave that ball in your court for now. We'll revisit that eventually. I promise you. I never was the mathematician of the family. I can tell you that. But I did. I did enough in school to get me by. And you know, I've revisited it a few times. And you know, it's just not one of my strong suits. But that's fine. Right?
Unknown Speaker 2:45
Well, you don't have to know anything about math to try derivatives.
Trevor Tyson 2:51
Yeah. Now, a lot of us listening, including myself, and I'm the one talking err, like what goes on in the day of a day trader? So can you kind of explain what you do and how it fuels into the ministry work that you do as well.
Unknown Speaker 3:07
I trade with the Chicago stock market, I trade derivatives and futures, as well. So trading, those can be very risky, or very safe, and I choose the safe way to trade them. So I've I've earned between 20 and 25%. My entire trading career. Dag
Trevor Tyson 3:39
Oh, hurry, some of us are sitting here thinking we're getting a good 1% off a savings account, and you're over here spitting out the 25%. Come on. That's so awesome. And when did you realize that like these massive profit margins from stock trading would actually fund ministry initiatives overseas?
Unknown Speaker 3:57
Well, I learned it the the slow way, because a friend of mine and I we started taking seminars all over the country to learn how to tray and we gradually moved to the Chicago place that only the SEC trades. They're in charge of stocks and bonds and other things. The Chicago house is in charge of derivatives and futures. So we shifted that way. And we've made a lot of money I've made I put all of my money except just the little bit I have to live off of to go to people all over the world that are unfortunate. I give them a hand up, not a handout,
Trevor Tyson 5:03
you say a hand up. Yeah. Instead of a handout, explain that.
Unknown Speaker 5:09
I've never heard that that first place that I went, when I quit my job. I rent went to Nicaragua. And I was on a huge trash dump there, feeding children. And I was in the capital of Nicaragua, Managua, Managua, and I, I spent two weeks ceding children nutritious food that lived on that trashed up, wow. And I got home. And I felt like a million dollars. And I went to sleep last night and the night feeling just so up, and my heart was rising out of my body. And then I woke up the next day. And I said, those children are hungry again, I did not change a thing. So I started giving people a hand up, not a handout, and teaching them how to take care of themselves. I've worked with women in places all over the world, that and I taught them how to run a small business. I have an ag specialist that teaches people we went to Africa. And one of the countries we went in, we went to a small community. And we saw that the people were growing the same crops in the same place annually. And their corn that they planted went from a healthy ear of corn to only a couple of kernels on the corn cob. And they planted them in the same place every year. So my ag specialist, taught them to rotate their crops, taught them to put fertilizer in the ground. They set their fields on fire every year. So he told them to stop doing that. And gradually, gradually, they grew enough crops to not only feed their families, but to sell to other people. And then they started sending their children to school, because they never could afford to send their children's school. So it just went up and up and up. And you can tell my heart is giving a hand up not now.
Trevor Tyson 8:19
And it's funny to even think about that all started from feeding people in a trash dump. That's not would be the moment where it really shifted in your brain. That's it's amazing to hear like churches and youth groups are like we're going to Romania, we're going here and we're gonna make an impact. But for you, what I see being the most beneficial takeaway of the work that you're doing is there's follow up with a lot of these trips, people don't realize, like, yeah, you're gonna go make some people smile and tell him about Jesus. And that's amazing. But where's the follow up. And that's where Karen Bruton and your organization comes into the picture. And I think it's phenomenal that you were able to take that and learn from it and continue to do it throughout your life. But you were also able to sit down and be like, you know, somebody might be encouraged by this. And I want to map it all out into a book. So that's where the lamb of Wall Street came from. So tell me a little bit about the lamb of Wall Street and what all of this started for you.
Unknown Speaker 9:21
I didn't come up with this idea about the book. I got a call. One day I was living on the island of Cyprus, doing ministry work on the island of Cyprus. And I lived there for about two and a half years. And I got a call one day. And the man on the phone said you don't know me, but I've heard a lot of stories about you and what you're doing. I think a book needs to be written about you. And I said that was January 2019. me. And I said, I'm coming home at the end of February to sell my home. And I can meet with you then. And that's started the book.
Trevor Tyson 10:16
What? What a phone call to get hay, your story is so good. And it's going to encourage so many people, I think you should write a book because usually, for authors, it's like, Hey, will you publish my book? Do you think this is good? Do you think that's a good idea? It didn't look like that at all for you. You were like, okay, like, whatever you think
Unknown Speaker 10:35
I got the book right here. And that cover. I was the fourth in line. On that cover. I took that picture. I was in Malawi. Wow. And those women had to make four and five trips. They had to walk a mile to the river. It was a filthy river to get water because they had no water where they lived. And I went with them that day. And I got back to the village. And I called all the people in the village out. And I said, this is enough of drinking this dirty water. And these women walking over a mile every day for four and five times a day. I said I'm going to hire a professional well driller, and he's going to come drill a well in your village. He, I got it. I got him immediately. And he came in about two days, and drilled a water well, that went down like 300 feet. And the water came out as pure and clear as they've ever tasted. And I just donated that to the village. Yeah. And they all came out of their huts, mud huts, and went down on their knees and praise God, and thank God for the well that they were going to get.
Trevor Tyson 12:35
Wow. And in the US. And a lot of these countries people don't realize that having running water or even a bottle of water laying around the house is something that people would die to give their families in parts of the world. What? Why were you overseas anyway, where where did all of this opportunity open up for you?
Unknown Speaker 13:00
I made a trip to Russia. And I was still working. But the trip to Russia. We had was through my church. And we had to take a an old restaurant and turn it in to a church because the Christians that lived around that area wanted to build a church. So I did all that. And I had very bad experiences in Russia. I had cops come up to me one day and took my passport away from me. And I had I didn't know what was going to happen. They just took it away from me and drove off
Trevor Tyson 14:06
because of your faith or the work you were doing. Faith in
Unknown Speaker 14:11
the workout was doing. So I got my passport back eventually. But that just taught me to work with people that they needed a hand up. Well. I didn't learn that until I knit went to Nicaragua. I went to Nicaragua after I quit my job. And that's where I learned to give a hand up not a handout. handouts are needed by people that experienced tsunamis or other things but most people don't need a handout because that makes them dependent on you. And I learned that From the trip to Nicaragua,
Trevor Tyson 15:04
that's awesome. So you go in, and you provide the resource to where they don't eventually won't need you anymore. Yes, you're teaching them a skill, you have your professional agricultural genius, go in there and help them figure out the crops. You're building sustainability and you're changing lives. It's a there's only one person that I can think of that has experiences like you haven't. That's ginger stocky, from Joyce Meyers ministries, mazing, woman of God, but the work that you are doing. It's it's not just introducing the gospel, you're providing sustainability, though, communities that may never see it again. And hopefully this is causing a ripple effect or a tsunami effect of just compassion throughout the countries that you're visiting and providing resources for. And I hope that hundreds of 1000s, even millions of people, get to hear your story and get impacted by what God's done through your life and the heart and the mission that he's given you. In fact, your work in the stock market has been so successful that the SEC actually looked into it to see if there was any malpractice, correct?
Unknown Speaker 16:14
That's correct. And I wasn't. I was audited by the Chicago Board. And I was strictly selling derivatives and futures with the Chicago Board. The SEC came after me. And they didn't even know what a call and put were. But they, they did very, very much harm to me.
Trevor Tyson 16:46
They're treating me like a fugitive. When you're out here, you're trying to help people. And that's not right. So if anybody from the SEC is listen, this, we love you, Jesus loves you. But leave Karen alone. She didn't do nothing to you. Come on now. But this is this has been such a refreshing conversation. And I'm so thankful that the Lord has given you the mission that he has, and everybody that's listening this, go pick up the lamb of Wall Street, go read more into it. And I hope that you're encouraged by reading the story and hearing this story now to the just go make a ripple effect. Even if it's in your own community, there are people struggling all around the world, not just in the United States, not just in Africa, not just in Nicaragua, there are people struggling right in your backyard. And there are people struggling in other countries, be sure to just dive into your heart, dive into prayer and ask God where He wants you to make an impact. And Karen, like He's using you. And it's phenomenal. It's
Unknown Speaker 17:43
in my 50s. Yeah. And God called me. And I said, Yes. And that has changed my entire life. And I look back on that. And I was so grateful that I said, out, I had not said no. I knew I was being called by God. And I said yes.
Trevor Tyson 18:11
And he said yes to you too. And sometimes it's not the easiest yes for us to say but if it's in God's will, it's gonna happen. But wow, I I feel encouraged walking away from this. And I hope all the listeners are as well. And, again, thank you so much for your time. Karen. I know that you have such a busy schedule that you keep up with and for you to take time out to be with us is quite refreshing to me. And I know everyone else as well.
Unknown Speaker 18:39
Thank you forever. That thank you so much.
Trevor Tyson 18:43
Of course and this episode has been brought to you by the whosoever is a new release today as usual. And we'll talk to you guys next week. Goodbye now. Bye
Karen Bruton graduated from the University of North Carolina and holds an MBA from Wake
Forest University. She spent more than twenty-five years as a vice president and corporate
controller of two corporations. In any given week, you might find Karen watching the markets,
working in the field in Sierra Leone, or listening to young women in an orphanage in Panama.