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Iconic California Kid Turns 80

Arcadia High School athletic phenom Les Schultz made a name for himself on Wall Street before returning to his home state of California. With more than 6 decades in the investment arena, the Cal State graduate is still moving money around the markets with large positions in relatively small companies.

The natural athlete Schultz excelled in several sports, including Track, Baseball, Football, and, later in life, Golf. The latter lasted for over half a century, winning various tournaments and raising money for charities and nonprofits. Still, it was his passion for stocks, numbers, leverage, and business that he played like his favorite sport.

At age 13, his father sent him to work in the mail room. He recalls, “My dad (the owner) went on vacation, and I went to work…I started at the bottom and learned the value of work. Whether I was playing sports or on the job, it was a fun busy time. My father was my hero. He was one of a kind.” Regardless of options to work at his father’s company or to follow in his father’s footsteps, Les was more interested in blazing his own trail.

“Yeah, I loved money and numbers, but I was always driven more by making deals, picking winners, and going with my gut after learning everything I could about the businesses I invested in. Crunching numbers in an office life wasn’t what I wanted. I loved the risk and the reward, and more importantly, I was good at it.” And he was right. By all measures, he seemed to have the golden gut; not to say he didn’t have his losses, but his track record is still running strong.

Once considered one of the most eligible bachelors (being published as such), he now lives in the prestigious Rancho Santa Fe community outside San Diego with his wife Angie and her daughter. I was lucky to visit his home office, and I saw firsthand how he’s still dialed into the markets with multiple TVs running the financial tickers in several rooms.

Our interview ran up against and through several conference calls where I witnessed firsthand Mr. Schultz in action asking direct questions, hearing people’s pitches, and making decisions about where to invest his time, money, and resources. I could have done it all day. The history is evident, and Les is the type of guy that has probably forgotten more than most ever learn about financial markets.

This month he celebrates his 80th birthday as a modest man with a big heart, still connected and doing what he loves. Surrounded by family, friends, and his golden retriever (name?), life seems complete. Happy Birthday, Les Schultz, and thank you for all you have done for so many. You deserve the biggest compliment you would personally value the most…”I know your father would be proud.”

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