Never Stop Learning

never stop learningOver the years, I have been involved in many types of businesses, legal and illegal. I have no shame as my father used to tell me you learn everything, because you never know a day might come where you will need those skills to survive. My father was my first teacher when it came to business, and never stop learning was ingrained in me. At first I thought it was fun, I was five years old and helping my dad with his “work”. My dad had many legitimate businesses over the years, but he always supplemented his income running numbers, or better known as the ghetto lottery. In the eighties, my dad started giving me little jobs to do in the business, since he ran it from our home, I had business education .

Beginning Years

At an early age, although I was having fun with my sister, I was being taught how a business is run with systems. I would see my dad creating charts by hand to document his “work”, then their were recordings of phone calls as back ups to the charted data, and more. As I grew older, I wanted to take part in my dad’s other business which consisted of property management, video stores, grocery stores, a social club and a softball team. My dad took me everywhere with him and I learned about all the businesses and participated in the management too.

By age twelve, I was managing one of the video stores, working along my dad learning about the administration of employees and dealing with direct sales. Up until this point, I was always behind the scenes doing mostly administrative work at home. By the age of eighteen, I would’ve continued working along my dad, but his words still resonated, never stop learning. Since my business background was probably more of an education than I would’ve received at any institution, I decided to go into the legal field. I attended John Jay College of Criminal Justice in NYC and received a Bachelors in Legal Studies.

Before I even received my degree, I started to work in a law firm, learning what else but real estate. I actually am trained in all areas of law, but my main activities revolved around the buying and selling of property, as well as management and the eviction process of tenants. I have continued to learn in the 15 years I’ve been actively working in the legal field, and I use what I’ve learned in all of the businesses I now own. I have developed a tough skin, especially since I’m a small business owner in a male dominated world, especially in the real estate business in NYC. It doesn’t help me that I’m only 5 feet tall, you should see how I look in Court among dozens of attorneys, usually 5′ 8″ and taller. I have to literally push my way to the front just so the judge can see and acknowledge me when the case is called.

The Downfall

In recent years, I had to learn about Alzheimer’s and epilepsy. In 2008, my dad fell down the stairs on New Years Eve. I was bleeding for hours, unconscious on the floor, until a tenant found him at around 1AM, January 1. Because my dad smelled like beer, he was automatically classified as an alcoholic that was celebrating too hard. No testing was ever done and no follow ups were scheduled. He again fell and had to be taken to the hospital, sometime in February. Again, no testing was done and no follow-ups were scheduled. Since I was working in the law firm, I did not notice that my dad was doing worse than originally thought of, but the tenants noticed and they began to take advantage of the situation, including my uncle, his brother.

The “falls” stopped for years, so I was continued to be oblivious to the situation in the  businesses. My dad had already put me on the business documentation, but I had not taken over anything, as I did not see the need. In my mind, dad was still capable of running things. Everything changed when Hurricane Sandy hit, and our main residence was damaged. Since there was an apartment vacant in one of our rentals, I was able to move in with my daughters. Now I was spending more time with my dad, since we was now together everyday; my mom moved in with my sister since that was closer to her job.

Picking up the Pieces

Now that I was there everyday, I was shocked to see the state of things, and immediately began to take action and enforce the paperwork dad had prepared. I began to evict all the tenants that were not paying and began to rehabilitate the properties. You need to invest money, to make money. I had some help from about 3 family members, but that is it. No one wanted to help me because I would not do things shady, or was not lenient with any of them.

As things started to turn around, my dad “fell” down the stairs again and had to be hospitalized. This time around, he had to spend 8 days, since the injury to his skull was severe. About a month after being released from the hospital, he had a seizure early in the morning. The doctors again said it was the alcoholism, but my dad was now living with me permanently, and he was not drinking at all. I was ignored and he was released a few hours later. The following month, Thanksgiving day, my dad fell and had another seizure. This time around, I changed the hospital and he finally got the treatment he needed. He was having seizures all along, but since he was classified as an alcoholic, he was never tested or treated for it.

The epileptic seizures runs in our family, as does Alzheimer’s, which accelerates if the seizures are left untreated. All of these obstacles in the latter part of my life, have opened me up to learning more. Not about business or legal stuff, about myself. I’ve learned that I can do it, no matter how hard the obstacle seems. I was faced with threatening tenants, abusive family members, abandonment when everyone turned their backs with the hurricane and with my dad, as well as legal issues and contempt when I had to evict my uncle from an apartment. It was hard but I learned and pushed thru. I still get the occasional hater, but I just brush it off and continue to do what I have done.

never stop learning

Never Stop Learning

I was able to work on the properties, all the while taking care of my father, 2 girls and officially starting my business, Martinez Consulting Services. I was already providing these professional services to many locals since the early 90s, I just never made it official until 2015. I learned I was being selfish by keeping all the skills I have learned over the years, and I should be sharing them with others, not just locally. By providing professional services, I have been able to continue to deal with the mess my father created, unintentional, but still a problem I had to deal with, since no one else stepped up to the plate, out of six kids.

Everyday I try to learn something new and share something new. Maybe I’ll start a new saying with my girls: Never stop learning, but at the same time, never stop teaching. Your gifts and talents are not yours, they are to be shared with the those who need them.

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