We have three boys, ages 27, 25, and 23. Our youngest son was born with a hole in the center septum of his heart. Every time his heart would beat, he would lose 40% of his oxygen needed to pump blood back through to the other side of his heart. When he was 18 months old, he had open heart surgery. During the procedure, they stopped his heart for six hours. It was stressful in one respect, but in the same respect, I was at peace knowing that there were tens of thousands of people that were praying for him in that room. It was a humbling experience.
That experience changed me and my perspective on life. I was a material guy before that. I had to drive the nicest cars, live in the nicest house, and wear the nicest clothes. Not anymore. I shifted focus off of me and onto everything except me, especially my family.
This shift also affected my professional life. There was an old sales guy back in the day, Zig Zigler. Zig said, "If you help other people get what they want, you'll get what you want." I adopted his way of thinking, and it's something that's always been a part of what I believe. To this day, it's a part of my personal and professional philosophy. I want to help everyone around me get what they want. In turn, this philosophy helps me get what I want, which is not about stuff. It's about love, happiness, family, and people.
I have a comprehensive teaching degree. I majored in Physical Education with a concentration in coaching. I actually coached gymnastics for almost four years. People would say, "Gosh, Mark, you never did anything with your degree." But I don’t see it that way. I use what I learned in my teaching degree every single day at OTA. I'm teaching and coaching our owners. I'm teaching and coaching our staff and my team. I'm teaching and coaching in our training every day.
In fact, in some way or another, everything in my life has prepared me to be at Online Trading Academy. I don't believe in fate. I do believe we have choices. As you go through life, you come to these forks in the road and you have to make a choice. Your experiences in life, your perspective, how you've grown up, and what you believe, whatever it might be, will help you make the right choice. And when you don't make the right choice, you'll get other choices down the road that will help you correct past choices.
When the boys were 11, 9, and 7, tired of the snow and the slush and the cold, we decided to move to Phoenix, Arizona. It was a big move for us; 2200 miles away from home and both sets of grandparents. I grew up in the Midwest in Northern Illinois, about 70 miles west of Chicago, near a town called Rockford, Illinois. My wife and I went to high school together. We started dating when I was 15 and she was 14 and lived there for nearly forty years.
The move allowed for our two oldest boys to earn scholarships to college for tennis. They could play 12 months a year. That would not have happened in Illinois. And our youngest, even with everything that happened to him, ended up being an amazing gymnast. He recently moved to Redondo Beach upon graduating from college. Today, he's an aerospace engineer for Northrop Grumman.