An ex-Green Beret and former river guide, Phil Town is a self-made millionaire several times over and America's most widely sought-after speaker on investing.
An average high school student, he completed college on his fourth try. Of his early working years, he says he "mostly got dirty for a living", taking on jobs such as digging ditches and pumping gas. Town spent three and a half years in the Army, returned from the Vietnam War and found a job in the States as a river guide.
Drifting through California, Utah, and Idaho, he subsisted at poverty level, combining his wages from the guiding season and unemployment. He wore black leathers, sported a goatee, lived in a teepee in the woods near Flagstaff, Arizona, and "drove around in a really loud black Harley Davidson".
In the early '80s, Town's life changed radically. He was guiding trustees from the educational program Outward Bound down the nastiest rapid on the Grand Canyon's Colorado River, when his split-second decisions saved a boatload of people from a whitewater disaster.
A grateful and financially astute client returned the favor by guiding Town into serious, successful investing using the first rule of investing as ascribed to by Warren Buffett: Don't lose money.
Within five years, Town had built a borrowed $1,000 into $1 million. His fortunes improved radically, and rapidly, from then on.
Phil Town appears regularly on the same stage as Rudy Giuliani, Jimmy Carter, and Colin Powell as part of the Get Motivated touring success seminar. He speaks to more than 500,000 people annually about Rule #1. He is a regular guest on CNBC's The Millionaire Inside, alongside fellow wealth experts like David Bach, Barbara Corcoran, Loral Langemeier, and frequently appears on the MSNBC program Your Business.
Town lives in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
His second investing book, PAYBACK TIME, will be published by Random House in February 2010.