From Farm Boy to Financial Guru

Mark Cook has been a featured financial expert in 15 books—including the bestselling Stock Market Wizards by Jack Schwager—and has authored Prepare Now & Survive The Coming Bear Market. He is an internationally renowned motivational speaker. He has been featured in Forbes magazine and was a regular contributor to Barron’s. His day trading techniques have inspired countless people to begin their own journey to financial independence.

“How often do you get to work with fellow Christians and do something meaningful like this?”—Mark Cook

But long before he was an acclaimed speaker, Mark’s biggest claim to fame was his role as personal chaperone for a cultural icon: Elsie the Cow.

“Everybody knew Elsie the Cow,” Mark said. The jersey cow was the official mascot for Borden Dairy Company, and she has been named one of the top 10 advertising icons of the twentieth century.

Since Mark grew up on his family farm, it probably wouldn’t have surprised anyone to see him step into the dairy business—but his role with Borden Dairy was pretty unique.

“Elsie appeared on television and radio and attended grand openings,” Mark said. “She got the key to the city in Chicago. She did everything celebrities do, and I took her around.” Elsie has even been awarded “honorary degrees” such as a Doctor of Ecownomics.


                 The original Elsie the Cow debuted at the 1939 World's Fair (photo ©New York Public Library)

And while everyone was paying attention to Elsie, Mark was getting his own time in the spotlight, frequently speaking on Elsie’s behalf.

Standing Out in the Financial Crowd

Strange as it may sound, Mark’s connection to this famous cow opened the door to his career in trading. He made his debut in finance by applying to Merrill Lynch, along with about 30,000 other people. It’s hard to stand out in a crowd that big, but Mark was already used to big crowds.

“When the secretaries saw my résumé, they recognized me from the appearances with Elsie. They told their bosses, ‘We have to meet him!’ So I got an interview,” Mark said. “They gave me an aptitude test, and I happened to do well. And when they hired about 1,800 people, I was one of them.”

Mark quickly demonstrated his proficiency as a trader and began teaching others to use his techniques. In one sense, he had left the farming world long behind. And in another, he brought it with him.

“I got my speaking skills from my parents,” Mark said. “My dad owns an antique tractor museum, and he always gave tours and presentations. My mother, Dr. Martha Cook, is the author of Grammar Toward Professionalism.”

And while Mark may owe his knack for public speaking to his parents, Mark has helped his parents make some savvy financial moves—including their investment with CDF.

Investing in Something Meaningful

It might seem odd to some people that someone who has been called a “stock market wizard” would advise people to invest in a church extension fund. But Mark is quick to point out that the only reason he has enjoyed this life of success is because of the Lord. And the Cook family has a rich history of church planting.

In 1840, Mark’s great-great-grandfather planted a church that his family still attends. Mark wanted to use the resources God has given him to continue this legacy, so he invested in Ohio Church Development Fund (OCDF). When CDF acquired OCDF, Mark developed a friendship with one of CDF’s field reps, Brad Dupray.

“I see the real bond that held us together was being a part of the family of God.”—Brad Dupray

The genuine relationships are part of what Mark—and now his parents—appreciate most about CDF. Mark met CDF Senior Vice President Brad Dupray over twenty years ago when Brad ventured to Ohio to attend a tractor auction that Mark and his father were conducting on the family farm. “I was a fish out of water,” Brad said. “I was definitely the city boy in the crowd, but on that day I established a relationship with the Cook family that engendered trust and true friendship. Now, two decades later, I see the real bond that held us together was being a part of the family of God.”

“With a lot of other investments out there, you’re just another account to them,” Mark said. “How often do you get to work with fellow Christians and do something meaningful like this?”

But that’s only one of the reasons why this financial guru continues to recommend that people invest with CDF. When you put your resources into CDF Capital, your investment grows—and so do churches across the country. Christians like Mark have been doing it for decades. And with every new investor, the legacy continues.


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