This week's guest, Jeff Muhlenkamp – the lead portfolio manager of financial planner Muhlenkamp & Company – got a unique start in investing... Jeff's background is impressive – 20 years of service in the U.S. Army, a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering, a master's degree in organizational leadership, and a Chartered Financial Analyst designation. As a result, he brings the perfect blend of discipline, analytical prowess, and leadership to portfolio management. Jeff's foray into investing shows just how resourceful he is... Back in 1988, when his father ran Muhlenkamp & Company, Jeff made his first investment there. He came up with the money by applying for a military car loan... then shrewdly using only a small portion to buy the cheapest car he could find and dedicating the remainder to launch a new career in investing. Today, Jeff prefers a measured, bottom-up approach when screening for opportunities. (One of his metrics happens to be in Dan's list of "Five Essential Financial Clues.") But he knows a well-rounded investor can't discount top-down considerations as well, like the No. 1 macroeconomic factor for U.S. investors to understand right now and the importance of market-cycle dynamics. And for his answer to Dan's "Final Question," Jeff leaves listeners with stunningly practical advice... Don't risk money you can't afford to lose... At an individual level, where your decision-making starts is: How much do you make? How much do you spend? Are you saving money? And for what purpose? Those sorts of strategic decisions in your life are going to be much more important than the kind of decisions you'll hear analysts and financial planners talk about.