Business consultants and CEOs often share one key trait — they tend to have a 10,000-foot view of situations the rest of us feel like we’re just swimming in. Jeffrey A. Martinovich has been there, done that, and fought for it. He’s seen firsthand how confidence, focus, perseverance and celebrating others’ successes can generate lots of personal and professional wins.
When Jeff decided to sit down and write “Just One More: The Wisdom of Bob Vukovich“, it was to get down these invaluable lessons in work and in life — but as stories, not just strategies. The combination of an engaging character and the wisdom he shares makes for a page-turner. But the trick is that this book has critical guidance we can all use to get farther.
Our conversation spans the author’s own experiences, his mentors, his triumphs, and most of all, his well-honed point of view on how not just to find success, but how to have success find you.
Here’s some of our conversation:
Talk a bit about yourself: how did you get to where you are today?
I earned my B.S. in Business Management from the United States Air Force Academy and my MBA in Finance from The College of William and Mary. I had the honor of serving my country during The First Gulf War at Tactical Air Command Headquarters, Langley, Virginia. Pursuing a second career in financial services, I was Founder and CEO of MICG Investment Management, a billion-dollar wealth management firm nationally recognized for its rapid growth, WoW service and A-Player culture. Following the 2008 Financial Crisis, MICG’s proprietary hedge funds experienced regulatory scrutiny and allegations.
As CEO, I vigorously defended my firm. I refused multiple settlement offers and instead chose to defend my employees and myself in federal court. In a bizarre narrative, I was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in federal prison. My case was reversed twice by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, two separate U.S. District Court Judges were removed, and my successful federal suit uncovered fraud and collusion holding me at a higher-security, violent prison. In May 2020, after nearly 7 years, I was released to home confinement and began my journey of rebuilding, restoring and turning disadvantages into advantages.
What prompted you to write this book in terms of your own experience?
We’ve always known that people learn best through stories. I’d been focusing more on business lessons about success and failure, but there are about 15 lessons that were which really were more about life than business. I decided to create Just One More and deliver this wisdom through a more contemporary parable of life’s real challenges.
Can you talk about the lessons learned through your long (and ultimately successful) legal challenge?
Perseverance. Resilience. The Universe helps those who help themselves. I filed over 500 motions and actions in my legal battle. I’m fairly certain there is some Grand Design, even though I’m not bright enough to understand it. Bad things happen to everyone, but you can separate yourself from the rest of the world by how you handle it and what you do.
Why did you choose to write the book as a work of fiction — and set the leadership and career guidance within the storyline?
I have always noticed that the greatest lessons are learned through great stories. This is how humans learn. So, I wanted to help people enjoy learning these lessons and truisms.
Talk about the character: Is Bob Vukovich based on a real person in your life? And what about the narrator?
I have been extremely fortunate to have many great mentors and leadership examples in my life. My father was a classic Horatio Alger story. He grew up poor and without a father but refused to be a victim and rose to the top levels of government service for our country. I attended the United States Air Force Academy, which exposed me to tremendous leaders with great courage. It also instilled an Honor Code in me that served me well through my own trials. And when I was a young finance professional, I was very fortunate to work for some really smart people who did business the right way. I have had many great mentors. Cole, the narrator, is likely a “younger me” — who was very fortunate to be exposed to great leaders.
Talk about the symbolism of the “perfect martini,” which comes up in the book quite a bit. What does it represent?
I believe it represents perfection and attempting to live a better life. It symbolizes our attempt to appreciate the finer things, all wrapped into a life of class and grace.
What is the “halo effect” and why is it so important when it comes to business leaders?
As Bob Vukovich explains in the book, the halo effect is a very powerful example of how success begets success. Confidence and experience rule the world simply because they are confidence and experience. In business, sports, and relationships, the person who has confidence keeps succeeding and succeeding — and people are drawn to them. Of course, that multiplies into helping them have more success. You just have to believe first. Then the world will be attracted and help you achieve the success you desire.
Can you talk about brain compartmentalization, and how it can help with multitasking and management?
The great majority of people cannot handle too many things at one time. They are serial thinkers instead of parallel thinkers, especially when it comes to challenges. But the more successful you become, the more problems you encounter. Great leaders have the ability to shift drama to the side and focus on being productive in the moment. Think about Michael Jordan’s “The Zone,” for instance. The best part is that this is a learned skill. It’s not a matter of some people having it and some not. You can learn it, perfect it, and practice it.
In one of your articles you talk about the problem with reveling in other people’s misfortunes, and why that’s so destructive to one’s own goals and success. Can you talk about the idea of a universal power of good?
Schadenfreude is the worst human trait throughout history, but it’s so true. There’s a rare percentage of people who figure out the laws of attraction and figure out that rooting for our neighbors and coworkers actually brings us great success. These are the people who end up living amazing lives and very content lives. We have to focus on cheering for everyone else every day. Then the world brings us great cheer as well.
What do you think is the single most important quality to be successful in business as well as in life?
Just one quality is difficult! But let’s say “aligning our interests with the interests of our business associates and our relationships.” Most of us are misaligned in both our work and our life. If we understand that all people work in their own interests, and that many times those are aligned with our own, then we can create business models, government, and relationships that have a compounding success — because everyone is rowing in the same direction. Very few people reach this congruity, or even consciousness, and see that alignment is the key. In business, I once read that we should stop trying to talk people into joining our Mission: there are so many others who already believe it and will join us if we just ask them. Just spread the word.