Erico Tavares: Mark, it is a great pleasure to be speaking with you today. Your life has been an inspiration to many, as a market trader, family man and someone very involved in spirituality and philanthropy. What has inspired you to have such a keen interest in these often conflicting fields?

Mark Andrew Ritchie: I spent part of my childhood, aged 9 to 13, in Afghanistan. It was a unique experience, trading in the bazaar for strings, kites and pigeons with some very poor people. After returning to the US and trying to have a normal youth, tragedy struck and I lost my younger brother in an accident.

It has occurred to me, only recently in fact, that these two factors have been the most important in shaping my personal development. Throughout all these years I have never discussed them with any of my peers and friends. This is understandable as losing someone so close is a very sensitive topic, and the experiences in Asia were just too distant for any of my peers to have any discussion with me about it. But that’s why I am who I am.