The legendary money manager John Marks Templeton started early. At age 4, young Templeton was making money at a vegetable business in his native Winchester, Tenn.
Templeton, who recently died at the age of 95, established a pattern of success at a very early age thanks to two remarkable parents. Harvey, his father, was a small-town lawyer who once owned a half dozen farms. His mother, Vella Handly Templeton, was a brilliant woman who studied Latin, Greek and mathematics. Both parents encouraged self-reliance, telling their children they could accomplish anything.
Both parents wanted young John and his brother Harvey to think independently and follow their curiosity to wherever it took them. And they did. Young Templeton experimented with electricity and rebuilt an old car. Almost every pursuit was open to the brothers. That is, as long as they diligently studied and prepared for each venture.
Templeton was also developing a counterintuitive streak, and this independent-minded, high-energy curiosity would serve him well when he became a money manager.
Templeton wasn't born to wealth. Though his parents were comfortable in the 1920s, by 1930 they had been hurt by the Great Depression, and his higher education was in jeopardy.
"At the beginning of sophomore year  my father told me with regret that he could not contribute even one dollar to my education. At first this seemed like a tragedy, but now, looking back, it was the best thing that could have happened," Templeton told his great-niece in the book Investing the Templeton Way.
He sailed through Yale University on scholarships and various part-time jobs and by making money from small-stakes poker. It was a game that Templeton mastered but would never play again after Yale.
Later Templeton was a Rhodes scholar, studying in England. Then he toured the world, trying to learn everything about foreign cultures. Templeton was preparing to become an economic adviser. So he studied law because he believed that knowing law and different cultures would prepare him for his life's work.
His lineage and his record of academic accomplishment certainly gave young Templeton a good start on his march toward a fabulous career in money management. However, there was something else, something that was a unique part of his life and success: Templeton's spirituality.
His mother was a Presbyterian church elder. But she was also a follower of the early 20th century Unity School of Christianity. This was a kind of offshoot of Christian Science and the transcendentalism of Ralph Waldo Emerson, a philosopher Templeton revered.
Here would be another key element in Templeton's wildly successful career. His spirituality was an essential part of everything he did. His religion viewed material prosperity as "a good thing ... it should flow naturally from intelligent planning and preparing spiritually and intellectually for success," wrote William Proctor in The Templeton Touch (Templeton's authorized biography).