The popular financial adviser has made millions dispensing advice through her best-selling books and TV shows. Orman came from an inauspicious background and started her career as a waitress in a Berkeley, Calif., bakery. She turned an investment gone bad into a teachable moment and used the experience to educate herself about the financial service industry, eventually becoming one of its most recognizable figures.
The daughter of a secretary and a chicken plucker, Orman studied social work at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After college, she drove cross-country and ended up in Berkeley and waitressed for several years. In 1980, she borrowed $52,000 from friends and family to open her own restaurant. She invested the money with Merrill Lynch, but lost it all within three months. Having already started to research financial services, Orman got a job at Merrill Lynch—the same office where she invested and lost her money—training as a broker. As she became more knowledgeable about the industry, she learned that the broker who advised her gave her questionable advice. She sued the company and settled out of court. She left Merrill Lynch in 1983 and took a job as vice president of investments at Prudential Bache Securities. Four years later, Orman started her own company, the Suze Orman Financial Group.
Orman first gained notice in 1995 with her book <citetitle> You've Earned It, Don't Lose It</citetitle>. Her next book, <citetitle> The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom</citetitle>, however, sold 3 million copies and made the best-seller lists. A string of best-sellers followed, and her CNBC series, <citetitle>The Suze Orman Show</citetitle> debuted in 2002. She has also produced and appeared on several PBS specials and won several Emmy Awards. Orman made <citetitle>Time</citetitle> magazineâs most influential people list in 2008 and 2009, and <citetitle>Forbes</citetitle> magazineâs 2010 list of the most powerful women in the world. Despite her success, Orman has been criticized for having a limited understanding of complex financial issues and products and gives very basic, somewhat one-size-fits-all advice.
Orman announced in 2007 that she is a lesbian. In 2010 she married Kathy Travis.