Employee Spotlight: Steven Martinez

Sometimes, life puts obstacles in your path and even allows you to fail in order to teach you valuable lessons—and District Manager Steven Martinez has learned his fair share. “Losing is learning and winning is teaching,” he says. “Embracing failures shaped me into the man I am today…and learning how to fail properly was instrumental to my growth.

But late last year, he learned he was going to fight his biggest battle yet: cancer.

One week later, he learned that he and his wife were expecting a baby.

Failure was not an option.

Steven remained steadfast in his belief that there were lessons to be learned here…and he was ready for them. “The most difficult part of my cancer journey was dealing with my thoughts,” he says, “but it was important for me to stay present. I needed to understand each and every possibility, and be ready to fight any challenge that came my way.” He was embodying his favorite “Be the Buffalo” mantra, referring to the fact that buffalo run through storms as opposed to from them to minimize the storm’s impact.

And fight he did. After one surgery and three rounds of chemotherapy, Steven is officially in “surveillance,” which means he is checked every three months for any sign of cancer. After five years of cleared “surveillance,” he will be in remission. His daughter is now a healthy three-month-old.

He’s also back in the field doing the job he loves so much, although he never truly left, insisting on staying involved throughout his cancer battle. “Working helped me get away from all the cancer talk and talking to my team gave me solace,” he said. “I needed to be involved in some way, shape, or form.”

Steven oversees 13 locations and 60+ team members in Los Angeles County, California. In fact, his team ranked #1 for the month of December, right in the throes of his chemo. But he says he takes zero credit: “My team and colleagues were instrumental in ensuring the business stayed afloat. My department leads and team heeded the call to action and ensured they executed in every way. When our normal cadence was interrupted, they ensured in the stores it was “business as usual”—pushing themselves individually and challenging each other.”

So winning is, in fact, teaching. He taught his team through example that a positive attitude, resilience, and determination is not only what helps you overcome obstacles, it helps you win. And while Steven is quick to mention his failures, he has had some momentous wins.

“Life’s storms will come whether you want them to or not—you can’t control that. What you can control is how you react to them and how you live your life. Be happy, be positive.”

Be the buffalo.