Herb lust has had an amazing career in both the finance and art world but has faced many bricks, especially in his childhood. He describes the neglect and abuse he suffered and the whispers that kept him going. He reminds us that there is beauty in even the difficult times in life. That no matter how hard the bricks we face there are always things to be grateful for.
Ari: Welcome to whispers rubrics. My name is Ari Sherman. I’m your host I have with me a special guest. His name is herbalist. Herb started his career in 1976 in the art world in France. It was three years later when he made the decision to go into the world of finance, and he has been there ever since. He just celebrated his 41st year in finance. I met her when he came to Cantor Fitzgerald in 2012. We work together he seemed to be the shy type and we really didn’t socialize together, do pleasantries between us but that was about it. It was only recently that I found out who herbalist really is, and what he had gone through that I decided to ask him to come on my podcast. Please help me welcome herb. Herb, how are you?
Herb: I’m doing great. Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it.
Ari: It’s my pleasure. Now I got to tell you, you had quite a career in finance. I checked out your your bios and everything. But according to your bio, you actually started out in the art world in France. Can you tell us a little bit? Tell us a little bit about that?
Herb: Absolutely. So my father had an art collection. And he was an art dealer with along with his third wife. And I grew up in the art business. That was the business I always thought I was slated for. So I would go to auctions with someone I was a kid and that type of thing. And eventually, I became an art dealer went along into the family business. And after a few years, I realized that people were buying the art hat were making more money than the people who were selling the art. So I decided to do what they were doing.
Herb: Wow. Wow. So how old were you at that point?
Herb: Well, I graduated college in 19. So by you, but I technically I had been in the art business all along, I was always helping deliver pictures and meet customers and work in the back of the gallery and that type of thing. So I majored in art history is one of my two majors. So it was pardon, but it was part and parcel of My Life for a very, very long time.
Ari: Wow, wow. Okay, great. So, as you know, the name of the podcast is whispers and bricks. Now the whispers are those voices telling you what the right thing to do is, and they represent the good in life. The bricks represent the bad things that we go through in life. And everybody knows, you know, there is no, no matter how good life seems to be on somebody else, there’s always an issue, there are always life’s not a straight line ups and downs, many bumps in the road. And again, what might seem like a perfect life most often is not. Now, when it comes to you, you got hit with a ton of bricks, excuse the pun, early on in life. You do you remember how old you were the first time your mom left you alone in your apartment? And what was that like?
Herb: Well, I’m about five years old, like five years old, early, six years old. And you know, most of the time, I was more quietly amazed, you know, I opened a frigerator there might be a half a banana, or nothing, or three or four grapes or something. And I just remember everything being very quiet, you know, and sort of just shutting things out and just not really fully letting myself experience what was really going on. Which you know, was a temporary expedient at work that got me through whatever that moment was.
Ari: Now, are you an only child?
Herb: Tech technically, I mean, I have half sister half brother, but I wasn’t raised with Him. So I was raised as an only child. Yes.
Ari: Right. Okay, great. So, wow, that I can’t imagine what that must have been like. But you know, it only it only gets better, so to speak. All right. And I’m saying that sarcastically Yep. Because when you were about six years old, I don’t get your mom tried to commit suicide and you actually saved her life.
Herb: Yeah, it what happened was she, she and I heard this groaning from the back from the bathroom, right? We were living alone on the Upper East Side, the 60s in New York Avenue, first seven or something like that. And in Manhattan, and I heard this groaning and it was my mother’s groaning in the bathroom. So I opened the door to the bathroom out of concern for my mother, obviously, and there’s blood everywhere. And she shows me her wrists and her wrists are slashed. Now. Now she had slashed them horizontally, which I now know is highly ineffective way of committee. Suicide via that method, you slashing vertically along the veins, and then you really bleed to death. He obviously didn’t know what she was doing. She risked cutting your tendons and not losing use of her hands forever after, but that didn’t happen either. But I mean, it’s very specific memory because she was obviously sobbing and crying hysterically and all this type of stuff. And I remember the the glint within her cut open wounds of the light bulb from the ceiling, you know what I mean? That reflection, you know, the glistening of the the lamp light, and she held out her wrists and I, I grabbed the gauze and I that was that I knew was underneath the sink, and I wrapped up her wrists where she was kept on holding out to me. And then the only phone number I knew was my babysitter’s. So I called the babysitter, and the babysitter came over.
Ari: Wow. And then I guess somebody must have called an ambulance or something.
Herb: Yeah. Maybe after that I really kind of blank out. You know what I mean? Right? Yeah. What happened was ultimately she ended up in Bellevue. My father lived in Illinois, the authorities called him, he came to New York. And and I mean, you know, after spending a night with a babysitter, he was there the next day, and I stayed with him in a hotel. And then there was a custody battle, obviously, and eventually the court granted him custody, which 1963 was highly unusual. Right,
Ari: right. I was gonna get to that in a minute about that verdict, that actually, again, changed your life again. But you mentioned to me that your mom had epileptic seizures. That’s, that’s true. Yeah. When When? When was that? And was that like, just throughout the course of, of your life? Or was that specific times what? What was going on?
Herb: Well, I mean, you know, you never knew when the what they call the grandma, these very large epileptic seizures, you don’t know, when they were happening. I remember one time, she took me on a day to introduce me to some guy that she was particularly fond of, apparently, and some Hungarian restaurant at 57th street, I think it was actually still there for until quite recently. And, you know, they had like, live violin, Hungarian music, whatever, and then dance. And then I saw it, you know, those were the days where, you know, she wore makeup or women commonly wear makeup. So I remember seeing a little dribble of wine down the side of her mouth. And then she starts trembling, the gentlemen that she with his eyes starts bulging, he has no idea what’s going on. I get out of the way, she goes into a full seizure, on the floor, and you know, with, you know, her arms or legs flailing all over the place and eyeballs going in different directions. And then, you know, her eyes lock on me. And it’s very typical to go into an incredible rage when you come out of these seizures, and have absolutely no memory of anything. So she was looking at me and saying, How are you get them out of here, you know? And and I’m going mommy, mommy, mommy, and then event. So I spent, you know, the next couple of nights with the owners of that Hungarian restaurant as an example. Oh,
Ari: wow. Oh my god. So in 1963, that’s when you add up again, the victim of a custody battle that your father won. And if memory serves me correct, it wasn’t the greatest experience.
Herb: Now, what was going on there, she had his own prop up. His idea of punishment was to take a hatchet handle and beat me with it. So he would beat me basically, from, you know, head to toe on my backside right? And I would get these softball ball size bruises over my body, and it’d be things like, if I didn’t get him the morning newspaper at seven o’clock in the morning, got to it like 710 in the morning, or I didn’t take out the garbage or something like that. So and he did it more when I was young, it got less and less the older I got. But it was quite often it was quite often Wow.
Ari: Wow. And I guess there’s nobody to protect you nobody to
to step in. I guess there was no such thing as or they know things like child services or anything like that at the time. I have to imagine I I can’t imagine living through that. I just wow. So how old were you when when your when your dad got custody of you? Six. He was six years old. So all of this was going on. By the by the time you were six all this has been happening to you. Yep. That’s that’s man.
Herb: I mean, you know, and the thing is, you know, I had a stepmother and she was an alcoholic because she got drunk on her skull. You know, every night basically. And And at one point, you know, she broke all the windows in the house and also started yelling at me while she was sprawled on the floor out of her mind. And, and then the violence wasn’t only directed me. I mean, one time, she bought like a cactus for $2.39, something like that without his permission. So he beat her up, and she had on a white turtleneck shirt at the time. And in order to remind her, you know, the how she had misbehaved. He made her wear that bloodied turtleneck shirt without it being washed for 30 days in a row. It was unbelievable.
Ari: Oh, thank God. With all due respect, how did you wind up normal? Well,
Herb: I mean, there are people say, I’m leaving that to one side, you know, I don’t really know, I think I was just lucky in the sense of knowing right away that this isn’t how was supposed to be. I will say this, that my father’s mother, grandma, Jenny was a very, very, very loving person. And I knew that she really loved me. And I and I knew that for sure. And of course, you know, she’s a saint, the name in my memory. And I think that helped me a lot. I also think that, you know, from six to 13, I lived out in the country. And the nature really helped me a lot. Furthermore, the the gallery was open from 12 to eight, and it was an hour away. So what would happen is, I would wake up early in the morning, go to school, and I make myself breakfast, they were still asleep, right? And then and then I would go to school, I’d come back three, four o’clock, in the afternoon, five o’clock, something like that after school, and they wouldn’t get home until eight o’clock, nine o’clock. Right? So there was lots of times where I wouldn’t see them. And if they were out entertaining, then I would put myself to bed before they would show up. So I could go for two, three days at a time, you know, without seeing them. A lot of times, I would stay at my friends. You know, I had a close friend of mine whose mother asked me once very seriously, you know, you want me to take you to the sheriff’s office? Because she saw the bruises. Right, right. No, no, no, no. Like that. But I was spent a lot of time at other people’s places. And I think that mix did help me, you know, string along. Wow.
Ari: So what did your mom do for a living?
Herb: Well, I mean, initially, she had spent a year or so working for the FBI. She didn’t like that. Then she worked
Ari: full time at about how did she get a job with the FBI?
Herb: That I don’t know. I have no idea. I was boring. She was she was forced to, you know, follow some guy for a year. And he never did anything. And so she thought it was an interesting, so she ended up quitting. Wow. And then what? Then she worked at Scribners. You know, there’s the old Scribners building in the 50s on Fifth Avenue, which is known as the clothing store. And if you go in the back off the right and the ground floor that used to be the children’s bookstore area. And that’s where she worked for a number of years. Finally, she ended up being a full time mother to other children with a different husband. And apparently, in that particular relationship, she didn’t find, in fact, find peace. She converted to Orthodox Judaism. He was Sephardic. And apparently that structure actually works for her and calmed her down. I met her first cousin, many years after her death, and she said that she had found peace through that, which was nice enough.
Ari: Wow. Wow. Now. When was the last time that you saw your mom? When I was 12? When you were 12? Yes. And that was the last time? Correct. Were you Was there any were you in touch with her at all?
No, no, no phone conversations? No letters? Nothing.
Herb: Wow. Now you, you mentioned that your mother has passed away? I mean, how old was she when she passed away? She was 51. Man. I was 21. Wow. Wow. So at that time, where were you living? We live in with your dad. Have you? Are you
on my own? I graduated college in 19. So I was living by myself.
Ari: Did you graduate college at 19?
Herb: I mean, I graduated high school in three years. I graduated college in three years.
Ari: Wow. Wow. Okay, so I guess you’re smart.
Herb: Maybe? Or maybe the people who were grading me you weren’t as intelligent as they should have been?
Ari: No, I think I think you’re I think it’s you’re very very bright. I think that’s what it was. That’s all Thank you. If you don’t mind me asking how did she die? How did your mom die? Do you know?
Herb: Yeah, well, she had a headache. And she went To the hospital, and 24 hours later, she was dead. She had brain cancer, but apparently was the kind of brain cancer you don’t necessarily feel until it just absent so
Ari: well, and you were how old at that point? 21. You said
anyone I found out about it a couple years later, but yeah, I was 21 at the time.
Wait, what? Whoa, timeout? What?
Herb: Well, I didn’t have any contact with her. So I only found out two years after the fact.
Ari: So then how did you find out with you,
Herb: you know, various people who knew or etc. And they tracked me down and I saw content. Oh, wow. Now,
Ari: are you married?
Herb: No, I’m divorced time. I’ve been single for about eight, nine years now.
Ari: Single for about nine yearst. You have kids? Yes, I do. Boys, girls, how many? How old? Come on, come on. Well, it’s about you.
Herb: More than more than one. I had one marriage that had no, no issue. And that ended, you know, then. And then I had another marriage. I had three children. Okay. And then I had another marriage. I had two children. Okay, that ended and three are young adults. And the two are, you know, in seventh grade, and they’re all doing well.
Ari: Oh, wow. Wow. Okay. I mean, I can’t imagine. All right, what you’ve gone through, and how you’ve gone through. I can’t imagine how you stayed sane. But, you know, I do know you on a personal level. And I will attest to the fact that you are saying you’re a little strange. But you are saying but you’re definitely saying. Last but not least, let me ask you this. Do you have any words of wisdom for my audience? And what I’m asking you really is? That? If, well, let’s start with that. Do you have any words of wisdom for my audience?
Herb: Well, the first thing is, you really should love life. Life is very precious. And the worst things are, the more beautiful those moments are that are good. And no matter how tough life is, that is beauty in the world. There is beauty and other people, you should cherish every moment of happiness you have. And children bring you joy and children are my strength. Children have healed me. And life is really worth living and really worth affirming and actually beautiful. And the more difficult it is, the more beautiful it obviously is. And you should cherish it all the more. Wow.
Ari: No, I do know that you ended your story with I think you said at the age of six. You said your mom was the most beautiful woman you had ever known. Yep. And you still believe that to this day, though?
Herb: I still think she is I still think she yeah,
Ari: that’s that that’s special. That’s really special. So let me ask you, then, you know, after listening to your story, I know that there are people out there in my audience that have gone through or are going through some of the things that you’ve gone through some little better, some a little worse. If you want to get in touch with you just to like offer words of encouragement to you, or to ask your advice on would you first of all, would you be open to that? And trying? Okay, so what would be the best way for people to get a hold of you? What’s the like? Yeah, well, website or something or just social media or email or what what?
Herb: Well, the only social media I have an easiest way to get in touch with me from that point of view is on LinkedIn, I have a LinkedIn profile. You can message me, or you can, you know, ask for us to connect and anything like that, and then we can take it from there.
Ari: Oh, great. That’s That’s wonderful. Herb. I mean, again, I am, I’ve got a lump in my throat. I gotta be honest with you. Thanks so much for sharing your story with my audience. I know that you’ve touched the lives of 1000s of people. You may not know it, but you really, really have and I wish you all the best going to you know your kids. Oh, by the way, I will tell you if you think kids are great. Wait till you have grandkids. That’s what they say. Oh my god, I will tell you this. I have I have a bunch of grandkids. And and by the way, this truth, this truth in the saying that children are our parents and no grandchildren, our parents revenge on their children. Wow. That’s funny. So anyway, Well, we certainly do I wish you all the best. I wish you so much. Thanks so much. You been listening to this prison bricks and I’m your host Gary Shermer. Remember, if you feel like you’re stuck in the mud, like you’re spinning your wheels, wasting time, your career, your business your life. If you know you’re not enjoying all the success, satisfaction and significance that you desire, then it’s time for you to book a call with me at call with ari.com Check out my whispers unbrick Academy and until next time, listen to the whispers avoid the bricks and never ever give up on your dreams. Bye for now.