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TICKER TAPE IN THE GENES

Almost from the beginning, Jamie Dimon always knew what he wanted. When Jamie was only nine years old, his father, Ted, a stockbroker, asked him and his two brothers what they wanted to be when they grew up. The older boy, Peter, said he wanted to be a physician. Ted, Jamie's twin brother, said he didn't know. Then it was Jamie's turn. ``I want to be rich,'' he replied. Says Ted, ``He wanted to run something and have power.''

At Harvard business school, Jamie was known for his bluntness. As a first-year student, Dimon disagreed with a professor in front of the class about how to interpret a case study. ``The teacher got very embarrassed, but Jamie was right,'' says classmate Peter Maglathlin. One day, in a course whose grades were based largely on class participation, Dimon was talking while another student sitting nearby was frantically waving his hand to get recognized. Dimon turned to the student and said: ``Put your stupid hand down while I'm talking.''

Dimon does have a more sensitive side, however. His friends say that in high school he was inseparable from his dog, a sheltie named Chippy. At B-school, he carried the pet around when it became too arthritic to walk. Several years ago, after reading a story in The New York Times about a Chicago teenager who was an exceptional student but mired in poverty, Dimon phoned the boy's mother to offer her son a summer job. The boy and his sister have worked for Smith Barney in New York for two summers in a row.

Besides work, Dimon's top priority is his family. He met his wife, Judy Kent, at Harvard. They have three girls, ages 11, 9, and 7. Giving up her career running a small foundation, Judy Dimon tends to the girls and the family's New York apartment and is active in the Children's Aid Society. An avid skier, tennis player, and runner, Jamie has little time left to indulge his favorite pastime of reading history.

Dimon always makes time to take calls from his father with suggestions or complaints. ``I have complete confidence in his inner strength,'' says his father. Ted adds that his son, a Democrat, might go into politics someday. Friends say he has discussed the idea. B-school classmate James E. Long says, ``Kissing the right rear end is not his strength.'' So far, though, not being a toady hasn't hurt him one little bit.

By Leah Nathans Spiro in New York


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Updated June 14, 1997 by bwwebmaster
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