An Officer and Entrepreneur: Financing a Second Career | American Funds

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An Officer and Entrepreneur: Financing a Second Career

Mike Madison served in the U.S. Air Force for 23 years before beginning a second career in real estate. He also made the strategic decision to consult a financial advisor to pilot his investments.



Mike Madison



Mike Madison: The first time that I met a president, I didn’t actually meet him — he came by in a motor pool — and it was President George Bush, the first. The motor pool came by and he was on his microphone and he said, “Hey, Lieutenant, how you doing, thank you,” and stuff like that. I also met President George W. Bush, President Jimmy Carter and President Barack Obama, but the first time was kind of special.

When I was in Peru, President George W. Bush took one of his last presidential trips, and I was kind of in charge of putting together the Air Force element of that trip. It was a big operation that lasted for months. When President Obama took over, he was going to take his first trip down to Trinidad and Tobago down in the Caribbean. They called me and wanted me to come up there for a month to put together his trip, so that’s what I did. Got the opportunity to go on Air Force One and to meet the president, and it was quite thrilling.

I started investing in real estate back in the mid-’90s and I was kind of a self-taught real estate investor. I remember exactly when I first became involved with mutual funds. Back in 1991, I was a brand new officer, I had some income for the first time, and I had big goals and dreams of becoming independently wealthy.

We put $25 a month — that was what we could afford at the very beginning — and made it monthly. Every raise it went up. If I got a $100 raise, then I increased my investments by $100. It just built up throughout my career.

I remember when the tech bubble burst. I was stationed over in Japan, and there were a few of us that were really hot stock traders and mutual fund buyers and we thought we had it going on, because everybody was making money, and it was easy. The big lesson was to diversify. You’re going to have to just keep looking at the long term.

I was investing on my own for the first probably 20 years before I used a direct advisor. I chose to change my strategy over to an advisor because he’s involved in the market; he’s involved in the industry. He knows the current strategies, the current products that are available, the current tax laws. They advise you on all these areas that you can’t become an expert in unless you devote your whole life to it, and I wasn’t prepared to do that. I wanted to focus on my real estate, and I wanted somebody else to focus on my investments.

Trust is very important in my relationship with my advisor. He’s a retired colonel as well — that gives me some good feelings about him. I know about his past and what he’s done. I also know he’s gone through a lot of training and education, so I trust that he’s an expert in what he’s talking about. I know he’s a man of integrity.

The money that I’ve saved throughout my life; we called it “attitude money.” We put money away for retirement and then we put money away to give us a better attitude about life and an outlook on life that we were going to be able to do some of the things that we wanted to do. It allowed me to make the transition from being a full-time military guy to a full-time investor in real estate.

I want to travel; I want to get in a motor home. I just want a good life where I can golf, and enjoy my friends and my family, and do some traveling. That’s the goal.

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Statements attributed to an individual represent the opinions of that individual as of the date published and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Capital Group or its affiliates. This information is intended to highlight issues and not to be comprehensive or to provide advice. Investors should consult their tax or legal advisors. 

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