Max Salk: Investment Analyst and Landscape Photographer


Preparation is key, but you’ll never know how something will turn out until you get it off the ground.

Max Salk is currently an investment analyst in New York City. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2011 with a degree in Finance and a minor in History. Following graduation, Max worked at Morningstar in Chicago for 10 months before joining PPM America, where he spent 3 years as an investment analyst. Max left PPM in June 2015 to move to New York to join The Blackstone Group.

Max’s interest in and passion for the financial markets began late in college, watching CNBC and researching/trading stocks. His interest in the markets expanded greatly during his tenure at PPM, where he first had the opportunity to closely follow companies, and research and recommend investment ideas for a living.

In his free time, Max enjoys traveling, exercising, listening to music, attending concerts, bowling, following the Chicago Cubs and the Bears, and hanging out with friends and family. Some of his most memorable travel moments come from his time with friends on road trips across the western United States. He is also passionate about music. His favorite artists include Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, and a variety of old-time blues and folk musicians.

Max also volunteers with and supports the Navy SEAL Foundation, which is a non-for-profit organization that raises money to support active-duty and Gold Star SEAL families.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

I first became interested in landscape photography during my semester abroad in Rotterdam, the Netherlands in 2010. I remember going for a walk on a very foggy morning and getting a few shots around one of Rotterdam’s harbors, with the thick fog adding a cool effect. One of the photographs from that foggy morning is the first picture that visitors to see.

Thereafter, I made sure to bring my digital camera wherever I traveled. Since that semester, I’ve traveled to a variety of places and have taken a lot of pictures, but my favorites are often the ones of open, dramatic landscapes. Eventually, I had a large and diverse enough portfolio that I decided to start a dedicated photography website.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Usually after first waking up in the morning, I check emails in bed. My commute isn’t particularly long, so I don’t have much time to catch up on emails on the subway. This way, when I get into the office, I can get right into whatever it is I’m working on.

When I need to intently focus on something, I put in headphones and listen to music. I also try to get up periodically throughout the day to walk and stretch my legs, as I find it helps me be more productive.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Everything starts with planning and preparation. Whenever I have an idea for something – whether it is something in my personal life or at work – I always start with a plan or idea as to how I ultimately want something to turn out. However, I’ve also found that you never really know exactly how or what something will turn out like until you actually attempt it. Planning and preparation are critical, but can only take you so far. Once you actually start working on or drafting something, the process and idea can evolve into something even better.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive?

I try to be diligent and pragmatic in how I approach things. This helps me manage my priorities, spend time on the right problems, and improve my work product.

What advice would you give your younger self?

The world is full of opportunities, and there is no one path to success or satisfaction in almost anything in life. Find something you love doing, and pursue it relentlessly. If it doesn’t work out, try something else. You’re young.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

I’m somewhat old fashioned with technology. I rarely buy a new gadget or device unless I feel like it will truly improve a process of mine or solve a problem. For instance, it took me until 2018 to download Spotify. I had been using (and still regularly use) the same iPod I’ve had since 2007.

What is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I try to prepare in detail whenever I have to present something. People may not know what you are doing every minute of every day, but they will form impressions of your work product based on how and what you present to them.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Consistently being diligent and reliable, paying close attention to detail, and going the extra mile in your work product will almost always pay off.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

A day of ski school in Colorado on a recent trip with friends. Five hours with an expert instructor went a long way in building both skills and confidence.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I’ll pick a movie instead.

Free Solo.

It is fascinating, inspiring, and truly unbelievable. It chronicles an individual who goes his own road, is in love with and absolutely dedicated to his craft, and pursues it to the extreme.

What is your favorite quote?

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin



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About Author

Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. •

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