SPEAKER

 
President Matt Rupert introduced member Jeff Cutler, “Part Four" in our series of ‘Getting to Know You’ classification talks.
 
Jeff is an only child from New Jersey. At age 45, Jeff has been reflecting on his life and how everything has tied together. “I think I just saw opportunities differently. Maybe it’s the way my parents invested me with the ability to see the wonderment of the world; everything’s available if you want it to be.”
 
As a kid, Jeff was allergic to a lot of things, and he was hyperactive (ADD). Both parents worked in medical fields (mom was a pediatric nurse and dad was in pharmaceuticals), and his mom started talking to Dr. Feingold, an allergist who was doing an internship at the hospital where she worked. He hypothesized that Jeff might be allergic to food additives such as coloring and dyes, and he asked permission to work with Jeff. Interestingly, when all of the food additives were removed from Jeff’s diet, the hyperactivity went away. If you ever read Dr. Feingold’s book (which is still available), Jeff is the child the doctor talks about in the book. Although Jeff, as an adult, embraces his ADD (“I’m working on a book right now; the chapters will all be out of order…”), he still strives to eat natural foods as a healthy habit.
 
Jeff believes in the “hedgehog” – the sweet spot where an individual or a company can put together the things they are extremely passionate about, the things they can do the best, and the things that allow them to generate money. “That’s where my callings have started coming together.”
 
Jeff saw the movie “Wall Street” and was intrigued by the idea of being a stockbroker. The next day he saw an ad in the paper for work training as an investment banker. He followed up, learned the ropes, and eventually became an options trader at Schwab, trading $80-90 million per day. “It was kinda crazy, because in the process of growing up, I found that I was extremely dyslexic. I will write upside down and backwards if I’m not paying attention. So to do all that key punching was pretty amazing – to overcome working with numbers – and numbers really became my thing.”
 
Jeff left Schwab to develop a public aquarium for Tempe. “If you’ve ever heard the story that there was going to be an aquarium on the Tempe Town Lake, that was me.” He developed the $42 million project as “an investment banking thing,” but the funding didn’t work out, so Jeff went indirectly back into the market, working in the public sector, talking in libraries and senior centers about fraud and investments. He developed a relationship with TV3 and began working with them, both advising and interviewing about the stock market. Eventually, the relationship led to a TV pilot, “Talk of the Table,” that answered impromptu questions about financial planning. The show didn’t launch, but it caught the attention of Pat McMahon, who started booking him on his show.
 
Jeff and Tammy also started a co-op office called “My Brother’s Office” where small businesses could share space. Eventually there were four locations of My Brother’s Office.  Jeff’s brother, who works in Hollywood, put together a proposal for a six-week pilot of “The Office,” a reality TV show, shot at My Brother’s Office, that focused on the drama experienced by small businesses trying to get off the ground. “If you ever have the opportunity to be on a reality TV show: don’t. They will follow you to the bathroom to try to get the shot.”
 
After a car accident that left Tammy with a 30% loss of brain capacity, “not that anybody would notice because she was really smart before,” Jeff and Tammy left the business to simplify their lives, and they started brainstorming different inventions. One of their creations, a guitar stand, has become very popular, not just with musicians, but also with gun enthusiasts. Jeff has a meeting coming up with the Duck Dynasty folks, who are interested in picking up the product.

 
Throughout his life, Jeff has followed the hedgehog, and has found that it always leads to diverse, interesting, and profitable things. “When this country started, we had Ben Franklin and later, Edison, and Tesla, and all these different guys who would invent all this stuff; they were diverse, with all these different things they did. We never called them crazy; we didn’t call them hyperactive or ADD; they were just making something happen. I want to be that kind of Renaissance entrepreneur. I love doing all kinds of different things. My life is going to be driven in this second half by the ideal that everything I do is of value to society. Used properly, ADD is a wonderful thing.”