Sunday, April 22, 2007

Dr. Pamela York Klainer

Pamela York Klainer:
This is Not a Dress Rehearsal, It is Your Life

By: Joseph W. Norman

For more from Bigger Impact co-founder, Joseph Norman, visit
Enjoy the read about...Pamela York Klainer...below! Thanks for your readership!

Dr. Pamela York Klainer is a woman of unparalleled motivation and passion for life. An avid giver of her time and wealth, she stresses the importance of accessibility with philanthropic projects. Throughout her career she served in the Peace Corp, taught school, developed a multi-faceted financial services firm with her late husband Jeremy, and now runs Klainer Consulting Group. She has published a book about the psychology of money, traveled the world, and just recently rode with a cycling group over the Andes Mountains. To speak of Pamela York Klainer simply would be impossible, as her “insatiable appetite for learning new things” constantly moves her in new directions.

When speaking of a woman who has achieved such worldly success like Pam, it is important to delve into her motivations. Early on, it was a negative influence as she watched her family struggle after the death of her father when she was only 14 years old. He had worked for DuPont on a salaried position while her mother served as a homemaker. Upon his death, Pam’s mother was forced to go back to work as a secretary to help support the family.

Pam became aware that when you tie your economic influence to someone else’s accomplishments, and you lose that, then you are in a really tough position. “I knew that before many other women understood it, so I decided I was always going to have my own source of income and my own professional life,” she stated. She also desired to have a family, so her life became a search for balance between the two.

After high school she attended the College of Saint Elizabeth in New Jersey. This was an all women’s school where Pamela studied philosophy and figured out some of her passions and interests. Upon graduation, Pamela enrolled into the Peace Corp, for what would end up being one of the most memorable experiences of her life. Her group embarked on a journey into the country of Panama to help in a variety of ways. This was a time when the Peace Corp was “less structured,” Pamela said. “They just dropped you into a village and said find something to do.”

Old Stock Certificates on the wall at Forte Capital

She began by teaching some of the locals English, as it was a key ability to facilitate wealth generation. More importantly, she helped form a co-op for men and women, by growing vegetables in the tropical environment and selling them. In addition, they started to buy and kill animals to help the folks get better nutrition. She took her turn selling the meat, which was an essential task to do efficiently as there was no refrigeration. Not only did the team’s efforts help the rural community members' diets, but it also helped them make money. This effort in community development helped set the tone for service that Klainer would adopt throughout the rest of her career.

Panama taught Klainer much about the human condition and what it means to be a global citizen. She now stresses that one of the most important things for people to realize is that every place is not like America, and not everybody thinks like us. “People raised in different cultures have different mindsets about the world,” she professes. “Even though we are a powerful country, we must not think that other people think the way we do.” This is a key piece of knowledge, especially for a world traveler like Pamela.

When traveling to another country, Klainer makes sure that she takes all the necessary actions to respect the native culture. This even means sucking the eyes and brains out of a fish head, as is customary in some South American countries for the guest of honor. Another adventurous feast involved the infamous “Rocky Mountain Oysters,” or bull’s balls, while yet another delicacy, blood sausage, was consumed when visiting Argentina. Pamela confesses, “I am pretty adventuresome.” After this line up of special little treats, one would have to agree.

The partners of Forte Capital

After the Peace Corp, Klainer got her Master’s degree in Education and began teaching. This was only a brief tenure however, because she realized that she did not want to be a salaried worker. Her common protest which she realized quickly was, “What do you mean I’m going to get paid according to a chart?” This could have led to her attraction to the man that would become her husband, Dr. Jeremy Klainer, an MBA and Ph. D. in Organic Chemistry. He was very entrepreneurial and their relationship was mutually beneficial. “I learned from him and he learned from me,” she stated.

Dr. Jeremy Klainer worked as a stock broker while the two lived together in the Rochester area. He had the idea of a fee based financial services company, which was unique for the industry at that point in time. Previously everything was commission based, so money was only made when it moved. The belief that people needed financial advice regardless, helped motivate the two entrepreneurs to create their own wealth management company.

They ran the company for nearly thirty years on this principle. Pamela gave insight into what it is like to work with family. “Working with a spouse is great when it works and it did work for us because we had different areas of interests,” she said. “Jerry loved working with clients and doing the research and I liked hiring, building, marketing, and getting clients.” She summarized, “It was wonderful.” After Jerry’s sudden death, Pamela took the company over and sold it to Forte Capital, where she continues to serve as the Senior Advisor and Chair of the Advisory Board.

In respect to the family, Pamela has two children, Matt, 28, who is currently studying at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and Sarah, 30, who will be enrolling in the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Both have achieved success in their own ways.

She is proud of having done a “good enough” job as a mother. “I don’t think anybody does anything better than good enough,” she smiles. “It was my job to help them become who they are.” She discusses the balance of motherhood as “figuring out how I could help them flourish in what they want to do.”

Pamela defines her strengths as her intellectual curiosity, perseverance, and listening skills. On the other hand, her impatience is a weakness and often times leads to her “evil twin” coming out. At meetings she can sometimes “drop a verbal bomb” when her fire is fueled enough. Fortunately, she has progressed far enough in her career that people listen closely to her advice, especially when these “verbal bombs” are inspired and released.

In terms of professional involvement, Dr. Klainer funded the Pamela York Klainer Center for Women in Business at the State University of New York at Geneseo. She also plays a key role in the Center for Governmental Research, the SUNY Geneseo Foundation, and the Advisory Board of the Center for Nursing Entrepreneurship at the University of Rochester’s School of Nursing. In addition, she has led a philanthropic project at the College of Saint Elizabeth involving collaboration with world renowned poets.

A big reader, Dr. Klainer is consumed by a variety of different materials. She reads both fiction and non-fiction, but finds herself leaning more towards the non-fiction side. Her interests often include political history and current events. One of her present reads is Cobra II by Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor, a story about the Iraq War. She loves mysteries, her favorite author in that genre being P.D. James, and she has started to develop a passion for poetry because of her aforementioned philanthropic project at the College of Saint Elizabeth.

Dr. Klainer's Office Book Shelf
Three people that Pamela Klainer would like to meet are all women although she is “not indifferent to the lives of men in anyway.” They include: Eleanor Roosevelt, a woman truly before her time that achieved so much. “She handled herself with incredible grace and dignity,” Pam said. The next is Evita Peron, who was “by any standards a terrible person,” Pam confesses. Her story is of interest though because after living and working in Panama, Pam noticed that there are many poor, beautiful girls like Eva Duarte, but she made it to the top. “I don’t think I would have liked her, or picked her to be my best friend,” Pam said. But, “I am fascinated by her.” The last is Anna Akhmatova, a Russian poet, whose work she has developed a passion for after her recent trip to Russia.

Dr. Klainer is irked by people who give the wrong answer because they are too lazy or do not care enough to find the right one. “It bothers me when that happens with people who cannot really fight back,” she said. Also, she is disturbed by people who blow other people off. This is a sign of the same laziness to engage as described in the first troubling character trait. She recently helped a friend who had been blown off by a financial advisor because he did not take her seriously. Pamela let the friend invest in Forte Capital at the minimum fees, even though she was below the company’s normal account minimums.

Now, it is important to discuss the little things that make Pamela who she is. She sleeps eight to nine hours a night, enjoys Kit-Kat bars and Thai food. Traveling is a must, and her recent athletic pursuit is cycling. She rides 15 to 25 miles a day (longer on the weekends) and tries to make one big cycling trip a year. This past year she tackled the Andes Mountains. Currently, mountain biking interests her because it is something new and challenging.

A 2007 Jaguar convertible lets her travel in style in the summertime and is courtesy of an “$80,000 impulse buy.” After purchasing her first Jaguar about five years ago, she has been hooked on the beautiful automobile and had to have the new model. Her favorite movie is Funny Bones, a cult classic with Jerry Lewis and Oliver Platt, and she loves to watch The Sopranos. In fact, the show is filmed in her hometown in New Jersey.

A 2007 Jaguar Convertible

Pamela York Klainer’s definition of success has a few parts. Part of success for her was financial stability because of her father’s death. “It was hard to live like that,” she said. “Money does not make you a good person, but it gives you choices.” Having enough money to be able to have a roof over her head, travel to see her kids, buy her Jaguar, and be independent has been a must.

There is also a public component to success. She desired to have a book published by a major New York publisher to make her mark on a bigger vista than just a local one. She wanted to do something that made a difference: “I think you have so many years in the world and I think there is an obligation to make a difference in some way,” she states.

She has found her personal mantra of life to be a simple one. “Always have a goal in mind, but focus on the piece that is right before you.” Having dealt with the death of her husband just over five years ago, she said about her work with their financial firm, “I knew it would take 18 to 24 months to position the firm to sell.” Her method of attack was, “If I said, ‘Can I do this today?’ I was able to maintain my equilibrium and keep moving forward.” This approach has served her well over the years, especially on her cycling trip over the Andes Mountains.

In closing, advice Dr. Klainer would give is, “No matter what stage you are at in life, this is no dress rehearsal; it is your life.” Take time for yourself and have some fun. Too many of her clients confess that they have not taken time for themselves in years. She says, “Do things because they are enjoyable and interesting, and because they offer you something, not because they get you somewhere.” Also, “I think people are so over scheduled and over stressed,” she states. “You have to have some fun along the way. Carve out some time for you to just hang out and have fun.”

Pamela York Klainer has lived an incredible life of service in both the financial community and the philanthropic one. She continues to travel the world, while maintaining a home base in Rochester, New York. Taking one day at a time, she accomplishes much even though she is no longer bound by any financial burdens. Her independence is essential to her, and with her life she continues to make a remarkable impact, not just locally, but globally.

Ben, Dr. Klainer, Joseph

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Dr. Pamela York Klainer
Klainer Consulting Group
Forte Capital: Senior Advisor
Philanthropist / Entrepreneur

95 Allens Creek Road
Building 1, Suite 201
Rochester, NY 14618
Office: 585.586.8100


How Much is Enough? By: Pamela York Klainer