At 30 years old, Sam was earning millions of dollars a year as a senior trader for one of the largest hedge funds in the world. Inspired by a book, and the guidance of a spiritual teacher, Sam left Wall Street and founded Groceryships, a non-profit in South Los Angeles that works with impoverished families living in food deserts. This is an incredibly inspiring story about changing the lens from what you can "get," to what you can "give."
The Roots of Ambition
A deeply personal story of family, addiction, and the making of a Wall Street trader, this is a presentation about how the tears of children become the never-enoughs of rich men. Sam talks about how his relationship with his ambitious, controlling father led to an inner hole that he tried to fill first with alcohol, drugs and women, and later success and money on Wall Street, and how he ultimately filled it not through achievement, but through spiritual healing.
The Ripple Effect
Groceryships, the non-profit Sam founded to help poor families living in food deserts, has quickly become a thought-leader in the fight against obesity and poverty. This is not only an inspiring story about how and why Sam started Groceryships, but it’s also an in-depth look at the intersection of poverty and obesity, and the innovative, multi-faceted strategy that Groceryships has employed to great success.
Sam Polk is the founder and executive director of Groceryships. He is a graduate of Columbia University and holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, which he earned during his eight years as a bond and derivative trader for Bank of America and King Street Capital Management.
On Wall Street, he was more "successful" than he'd thought possible, but he still felt empty and unfulfilled. He quit the investment world in 2010 and moved to Los Angeles, where he spent the next few years writing a book and doing volunteer work, teaching writing to foster kids, and working with homeless teens. He began speaking at jails and juvenile detention centers about recovering from addiction.
In 2013, Sam founded Groceryships with his wife Kirsten Thompson. A nonprofit organization that provides "scholarships for groceries," Groceryships is creating a network of support/education groups for low-income families struggling with obesity. Groceryships approaches obesity from a holistic perspective, and the six-month program includes education, healthy cooking, and a support-group format that addresses the emotional, spiritual, and social aspects of obesity.
In January of 2014 Sam electrified the world in a New York Times OpEd that appeared on the front cover of The Sunday Review. Since its publication, Sam has appeared on hundreds of media outlets including The Today Show, Morning Joe, Tavis Smiley, NPR, CNN, and Bloomberg. His writing has also been published in The Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, The Orange County Register, and MariaShriver.com, and Sam’s memoir will be published in January 2016 by Scribner.