Valley dad Michael Self was born and raised in Toledo by a single mother. One of four children, he began working at just 9-years-old.
“Toledo, in 1969 was not an easy place to live for a single woman, without a college degree and no support for her children,” says Self. “All of us children found different ways to contribute and cope with the situation. I found my place working on a farm, picking strawberries, cleaning poultry, milking cows and hauling firewood.”
By high school, he owned a small landscape service which allowed him to think about college as a next step. He sold the business for a tidy profit before heading south to Georgia to attend college. He attended school in the mornings and worked at an automobile franchise as well as started a restaurant. He also began learning more about the financial industry. In 1992, while still working full-time, Self earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.
Armed with his degree – and newly married – Self moved to Arizona to take a position with Prudential Securities. While he enjoyed the work and the time spent with Prudential, he felt his training and education had not given him sufficient knowledge to properly serve his growing list of clients. This led him to pursue additional education, this time online through Kansas State University, where he received his graduate degree in Family Financial Planning and earned his Certified Financial Planner (CFP ®) designation.
“That was an intense three years, as we were having our children and I was in school full-time, working 60 hours a week,” says Self. ”But it laid the solid foundation for my career and for what we all enjoy today.”
After more than 13 years in the industry, Self made the decision to become an independent advisor and launched his own business, Self Wealth Management, in Scottsdale in 2005.
“I am fortunate and lucky in that not only my faith, my childhood experiences and education prepared me for my chosen profession, but some of the challenging situations I encountered along the way, have as well. I think that’s why my family and I have been so blessed. It’s just a natural progression.” says Self.
Today, Self has a blended family with his wife Leticia that includes seven children. Some of the kids are attending their final year of college, others have graduated and are currently working in their respective careers.
Growing up without a father made a very significant impact on Self’s ideas of what it would mean to be a good father.
“I think I clearly understood what it would take to love and provide for my children, I just had no idea of how much fun it would be. It’s been my greatest joy! A lot of what some may say is success, is a direct result of difficult times, fear or even misplaced priorities,” says Self.
He hopes to contribute in a meaningful way to the next generation in his family, which already includes four granddaughters under the age of 3!
Self’s early years continue to influence how he interacts within his community, especially when it comes to topics like children, hunger and education. Self volunteers for several different organizations including Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos and Habitat for Humanity as well as faith-based organizations.
Among the ways he has assisted some organizations: initiating endowments.
“It’s not enough to simply meet the demands for those we serve today. But when possible, we need to begin to build a firm foundation for those who come to serve after us, when we are no longer able to do so. The future volunteers should be better equipped to take up where we leave off,” says Self.
Looking to the Future
As it was for many of us, 2020 was a year of change for Self. In late 2020, he partnered with Wilde Wealth Management in Scottsdale.
“I was looking to partner with someone who had a similar work ethic as mine and that cares about our community and family,” said Self. “Trevor and his team were the strong, competent, professionals we were looking for.”
While Self intends and hopes to work for years to come, he also realizes “plans do not always work out.”
“It is so nice to be surrounded by up and coming professional. This association has been a breath of fresh air for me. While part of my responsibilities focus on mentoring and training, it is very exciting to also be in a place to learn so much from them,” says Self.
Written by: Justin Liggin, Arizona State University Journalism Student, intern at HMA Public Relations