Love and learn from your customers, your team, and your products.
Before joining Market Traders Institute as VP of Managed Accounts in 2004, Jacob Martinez was already putting his leadership skills to the test. As a military intelligence leader in the U.S. Army, he was quickly promoted to sergeant and held multiple leadership positions during his 4.5-year career.
Jacob’s unique experience with serving 2 tours in Afghanistan, coupled with his executive education from Rollins College (Mini-MBA Crummer Certification), it proved to be a clear asset to MTI where he once again moved up the ranks. Eventually Martinez was earning his current position as CEO and President.
Today, Jacob continues to lead the company towards tremendous growth, while still honoring the legacy his father Jared Martinez. It was built over the last 25 years, with the privately held trading education and software company being listed in the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Companies list 4 years in a row.
Where did the idea for MTI come from?
My father, Jared Martinez, came up with the idea for Market Traders Institute. It goes back to him owning an art-publishing company back in the late ’70s and early ’80s. He used to buy all his product from Japan, and the Yen strengthened against the U.S. dollar during just a few short months in the mid-80s. So, his product cost basically doubled.
He realized, “Had I known that was going to happen, I could have had money in Japanese Yen and doubled my money.” In the ’90s he started to trade Forex, and by 1994 he got really good. People began to pay him to teach them to trade it too. He realized from there, “The Forex is big. I can make a living off trading Forex, yet I can also impact others by teaching the Forex.”
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I’m a very hands-on CEO. My day starts with analyzing yesterday’s performance and identifying any missed opportunities we need to work on (whether they be immediate fixes or longer-term solutions needed). We operate on the EOS (Entrepreneur Operating System), so I have a series of standing meetings and Rocks that get my daily focus.
I also have an open door policy, and so anyone on the MTI team is welcome to share ideas that will enhance our clients’ experience, collaborate on company initiatives, or help me understand what I can do to assist them with their individual goals.
How do you bring ideas to life?
One bite at a time, together. Our company follows the Agile philosophy. It allows us to deliver on ideas quicker. We start with a vision and goal, then we meet with the leaders of the organization to help them understand the why. Then, we empower teams to ideate solutions. Having that open communication within the team has allowed us to rapidly bring ideas to fruition that we might not have dreamed of ourselves.
What’s one trend that excites you?
With the world being more connected than ever, I like the idea that anyone can be successful with the right access to education, tools and mentorship; to be it Forex trading or anything else they choose to do.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Staying vigilant, by continuously monitoring and evaluating how we do business, why we do the things we do, and most importantly, what benefit(s) are we passing down to our customers. At the end of the day, it’s all about creating the best possible customer experience. And that sometimes means shaking things up a bit, and not getting caught up in the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality. To me, that’s not good enough. I will always look for ways to improve.
For the past 5 years, I have been an active member of Vistage. As leaders, we each face unique journeys on the road to success. By connecting with like-minded executives, I’m able to gain a greater perspective on how we could approach our own challenges differently. This collaboration has made me a stronger leader.
What advice would you give your younger self?
First rule to failure: Trying to please everyone. Instead be caring, be compassionate, be understanding, but also don’t be afraid to be a little selfish with your time to get what you want.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
You can have your cake and eat it too. It’s entirely possible to be passionate about what you do, be financially successful and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Love and learn from your customers, your team, and your products.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Our main strategy is simply providing the best possible products and tools people need to succeed at trading. We find that when you are producing valuable, user-friendly products that people want, your focus shifts from trying to get people to buy to simply showing the benefits and the value.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Not living the mantra: “what doesn’t get monitored, doesn’t get done”. It’s natural to want to build trust with your team members, but when you stop monitoring progress and rely solely on blind faith, that’s where problems can happen. Today, we have systems and processes in place that give us a complete dashboard of all our business functions to ensure we minimize our “blind sides”.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
To teach adolescents and teens how to invest and manage their money and to provide them with an easy technology solution that facilitates their teaching and investing. The world of investing to most people is overwhelming and if someone can overcome that thought process from an early age, we can give people opportunities to earn an income in ways they never thought possible.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
It was a personal donation to our Trading for Ta-Tas fundraising campaign. Trading for Ta-Tas is an annual campaign that supports our local hospital’s efforts to fight breast cancer. The whole team works hard to change lives for our customers daily and we extend that focus to our community as much as possible.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Our company uses different software products to keep us productive. One of the most basic, that any company can get is Google Suite. We try to operate electronically as much as possible. Google Docs and Spreadsheets has helped us cut our paper waste drastically.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I highly recommend the 360° Leader by John C. Maxwell. This book has been a tremendous help in keeping me on top of my game as a leader for the organization and has helped other leaders in the organization realize their potential. “Leadership is a choice you make, not a place you sit.”
What is your favorite quote?
Stephen Covey quotes are very important. I keep them right next to my computer. From “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” there are two that really, I live by the most.
One is, “Begin with the end in mind,” because you’ve got to understand where we want to go so, we can put the proper steps in place to get there.
And the other is, “First seek to understand, then seek to be understood,” making sure that we’ve covered all the angles of an issue before I start putting direction in place, because by no means do I know it all.
● To be successful in business you must put your customer’s needs first. Shift from trying to sell them on something to showing them the benefits and value of your product.
● Break big projects down into bite-sized pieces. The agile business model is a great tool for this.
● Minimize your blind spots by monitoring and evaluating your team in a structured way.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.