At 37, Kevin Dick has developed a professional career that most people take a lifetime to attain.
"It's been an evolution," he said.
Sitting behind his relatively clutter-free desk with two flat-panel computer screens off to the side, Dick's life is placid compared to the fast-paced tourist industry career of his teens and 20s.
"I always knew I wanted to own my own business," he said.
Last year, Dick -- now the managing principal and senior financial adviser of his own firm -- went solo and opened Kevin Dick Investments and Financial Services of Wachovia Securities.
Dick, like many self-employed young professionals, started working as a teenager. His drive came from his father, a retired army sergeant and fire chief. His mother gave him an entrepreneurial spirit.
In the 1980s, he got his first taste of business while spending time with corporate executives as a grunt worker for his mother's firm, Destination Management.
"It was awesome," he said. "I had a big brick cell phone before everyone else had one."
His mother was a seminal figure in the business. Destination Management is a service that facilitates the arrangement of corporate events and meetings for large companies. The firm handled everything from the travel to the accommodations to the catering to the decor.
When Dick graduated from Saguaro High School, he signed a two-year enlistment as an army infantryman and earned the rank of corporal.
"The military taught me discipline, but also a passion for our country," he said. "When you're training, you learn what we fought for in the past."
But after his discharge, the rigid world of the military faded into the past. Dick's background allowed him to work as operations manager for Destination Management while attending classes at Arizona State University.
A few years later, Maritz Inc., a Fortune 500 company that specializes in orchestrating corporate events, recruited him. Dick traveled to destinations, such as the Caribbean, arranging meetings, facilitating retreats and creating party sites for large corporations. As an employee, he enjoyed the fringe benefits of high-profile travel, hotel accommodations and cuisine.
"It's a lifestyle," he said.
By the time Dick was in his late 20s, he had reached the top echelon of the destination management industry, and he returned to the Scottsdale Princess Hotel and Resort as director of operations.
Nine years ago, he switched careers found himself at Edward Jones as an investment representative.
But something was missing in his life, and he needed to sate his passion for the outdoors. He and his wife, Carrie, yearned for the simplicity and beauty of the Rim Country and a healthy place to raise their two children, 2-year-old, Mason, 8-month-old, Bailee.
"All my life I said I was going to live up here. We just knew we needed a better quality of life," he said.
Besides, episodes of his favorite TV hero Grizzly Adams were taped in the recesses of the national forest.
"I always wanted to live where Grizzly Adams lived."
Dick, a savvy investor, prepares his clients for lifelong financial decisions, including retirement, asset management, estate planning and wealth preservation, and comprehensive financial health. A collection of financial licenses -- the series 7, series 63, series 65, series 24, and health and life insurance accreditations -- provides Dick with a solid investment foundation. Dick is also a licensed asset management specialist.
"Managing money is easy," he said. "My business is more about managing emotions."
Dick's personal satisfaction comes from his civic investment. He's vice president of the Payson Rotary Club, chairman of the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce and a board member for the Payson Regional Medical Center and the Payson Regional Economic Development Committee.
"In life, I try to be, as Wayne Gretzky said, ‘Not where the puck is, but where it's going to be.'"