Fast 15: Max Mahler

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Max Mahler said the key to any early successes in his chosen profession is simple.

“I work a lot,” said Mahler, a Fayetteville native who graduated from the University of Arkansas with a finance degree in 2009. “I almost live in my office.”

If that makes Mahler a workaholic, it might be in his blood. He fondly remembers, after all, a story his grandfather once told him. His grandfather, a World War II veteran, worked as a concrete mason in Los Angeles.

“I didn’t make any of my money during regular hours,” he told Mahler. “I made my money after everybody else went home.”

Mahler actually has been working day and night since before he joined Wells Fargo Advisors. When he didn’t get a suitable job offer after graduating at a time when more financial advisors seemed to be getting laid off than hired, Mahler decided to spend the summer working as a river guide at the Grand Canyon.

After that, he returned to Fayetteville and Pack Rat Outdoor Center, where he’d worked throughout college. Mahler also found time to work as a substitute teacher and night manager at an Arsaga’s coffee shop.

Mahler was helping a customer at Pack Rat, in fact, when he got an unexpected career break. A manager, it seems, had mentioned Mahler’s background in finance to the customer.

“So, what are you doing?” the customer asked Mahler.

“I’m helping you get shoes,” Mahler told him.

The two shared a laugh, and a series of interviews soon followed. Mahler eventually ended up with an offer from Wells Fargo’s Fayetteville office.

Mahler began work on his MBA at the UA about that same time, and he’s currently “finishing up on it.”

Part of his MBA work has involved HomeDx, a student business plan competition team “working to develop the first over-the-counter influenza test that would be distributed through large retail channels,” according to a UA release. The team has enjoyed some success, including a first-place finish in the graduate division at March’s Global New Venture Competition at the University of Nebraska.

Mahler also has found time to win an elevator pitch contest for a coffee company, as well as co-found a nonprofit called Cow Paddy Inc. CPI benefits public schools in Fayetteville, and has raised about $20,000 since November 2010.

As for hobbies, Mahler said he enjoys running, preferably — and perhaps predictably — long distances.

“I have completed three marathons,” he said.