Michael Kothakota is a native of Oklahoma, but has lived the last 20 or so years of his life in North Carolina. That is, with the exception of a 5-month train-up and a 13-month deployment to Iraq in 2003-2005. Michael was an infantryman in B Co 1/120th Infantry under the 1st Infantry Division, conducting operations in eastern and central Iraq. He returned to his job as a security manager at Guarsmark, LLC but left shortly thereafter to pursue his career in investments with Edward Jones. Despite a semi-entrepreneurial culture, after 3 years Michael decided to strike out on his own, forming the investment advisory ﬁrm WolfBridge Financial Corporation. As an additional line of business, WolfBridge Divorce Solutions grew out of the need for ﬁnancial professionals in family law. More recently, he has formed WolfWise analyst reports, an organization that sells investment research to both individual and institutional clients. He also recently wrote the book The Diversiﬁcation Myth: Quelling the Arguments and possesses several ﬁnancial designations. Michael lives with his wife, Jessica and his stepdaughter, Madisen in Apex, North Carolina. They spend their time as a family discussing various business ideas and reading.
What are you working on right now?
Currently I am working on expanding my client base so that I have global reach.
What does your typical day look like?
I typically wake up at 4:30 AM and get to the gym by 5:00 AM. After that, I shower, dress and get to the ofﬁce by 6:00 AM. I get in earlier if I happen to skip the gym that day, but I like to get in before the sun comes up. I drink my coffee and read various investment articles and get prepared for the market day. I typically have 2-3 appointments per day with either existing or new clients and the rest of my time I spend in analysis. I often skip lunch, but am home by 4:30 PM most days to help my wife cook and possibly clean. After we have all eaten, I work on paperwork until about 7:00 or 8:00 PM. Then we usually have a family discussion about some interesting topic.
3 trends that excite you?
I am most excited by the digital revolution, but more speciﬁcally, the shrinking of our globe. With the newer software and hardware that allow us to speak at little to no cost across the oceans, it has enabled entrepreneurs to constantly come up with new products and services.
Another trend Iʼm excited about is blogging. While itʼs been around for a while, it is incredible the amount of information that can be gathered simply by reading peopleʼs blogs.
And ﬁnally, the trend towards behavioral ﬁnance as a fact. Along the fringe of social science and economic thought, it is truly the way we should look at investments and people.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I liken myself to a man of action. So when I see an idea or have an idea, I want to make it a reality. I think out the process in mental stages, and if it makes it past the mental stage, I actually begin to plan it.
What inspires you?
My wife. Sheʼs a brilliant woman who is constantly thinking. I honestly donʼt think her brain ever takes a rest. I get ideas from her all of the time–and discussing the viability of one idea over the other is what helps them get traction.
What is one mistake youʼve made and what did you learn from it?
I think the biggest mistake I made was relying too much upon traditional marketing methods. In an industry saturated with many workers, the differentiating factor is often the individual–and there is no substitute for a face-to-face meeting.
What is one business idea that youʼre willing to give away to our readers?
One idea that has been germinating in the back of my head is a phone application that allows people to project investment returns by making changes to their portfolio without actually making the changes.
What do you read every day and why?
I generally read several different authors from Seeking Alpha as well as the CFA Institute Daily news brief.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?
Dan Arielyʼs Predictably Irrational. I would also suggest the follow on book, The Upside of Irrationality. Understanding why we make the decisions we do and understanding how customers make decisions is very interesting to me.
What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?
I use a VeriSign app to verify my access to accounts. It keeps things secure.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
I would follow JeffRoseCFP, because Jeff is not only a ﬁnancial industry standout, he is also a social media genius. ShellyKramer, a marketing professional whose tweets are always insightful and IreneKoehler, who is also heavily involved in social media.
Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?
James Altucher. He is a trader, investor, entrepreneur and writer.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
This morning I sent my wife an e-card for her birthday that was hilarious.
How do you view the economic landscape going forward?
I think as we move further into the digital age, we begin to have more market entrants who are entrepreneurial in spirit. I also see less need for a formal post-secondary education at a university. While it will still has itʼs place, more speciﬁc training will be needed. A new breed of trade schools will develop.
What drives you as a person?
The desire to better myself every day. The journey we take during our life should be ﬁlled with the desire to become more than who we were the day before. Stagnation is the enemy of creativity and we need to be able to move forward each day. Challenge ourselves. What we leave behind is our personal legacy and our actions will deﬁne what inﬂuence we have. Whether itʼs a large or small impact. Or whether it is an impact on an individual or the entire world.