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In pursuit of the American Dream

His family emigrated to the U.S. from El Salvador when Martinez was just 12 years old. He was born into a 12-year-long civil war (from 1980 to 1992) between the government and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, which was punctuated by violence and human rights violations.

“I remember as a kid when I lived in El Salvador hearing the bombs and the gunshots and people running on the roof and us hiding underneath our beds,” says Martinez.

“As a kid I didn’t really appreciate what my parents in their early 20s were going through,” he adds, his voice cracking with emotion. After the war, they lived a modest life: they had a house, they had food on the table, but they didn’t have any luxury items — they couldn’t even afford Christmas presents.

His family left for Houston in 1997 in pursuit of the American Dream, working minimum wage jobs and renting a one-bedroom apartment that cost $450 a month. Martinez knew he was going to make something of himself so he could support his parents one day, “because I wasn’t going to stop until I did.”

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From immigrant to multi-millionaire

Martinez made his first million when he was 29 years old, trading natural gas. He’s still a trader, though he’s also a serial entrepreneur, investing in a number of start-ups, from fitness and racing to construction and tech. He attributes his success, in part, to the fact he likely has a “higher tolerance of stress and risk than most people.”

While trading natural commodities can be a great way to generate wealth, he says it’s also a “great way to be stressed out and lose your mind over the stresses of the market.” In other words, it’s not for everyone — especially since commodities are considered one of the riskiest ways to invest.

But the secret to his success? He trusts his gut — even if he happens to be down $60 million.

“I understand markets are going to fluctuate, and so if I can withstand the fluctuations and still stick to my guns, then I can see positions play out while other people sometimes have to get out.”


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Vawn Himmelsbach Freelance Contributor

Vawn Himmelsbach is a journalist who has been covering tech, business and travel for more than two decades. Her work has been published in a variety of publications, including The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Post, CBC News, ITbusiness, CAA Magazine, Zoomer, BOLD Magazine and Travelweek, among others.


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